Cheltenham Jazz Festival will return this spring featuring some of the biggest names from the worlds of jazz, soul, blues, pop and beyond. One of Europe’s biggest jazz festivals with over 55,000 music fans in attendance across the week, 2024’s event will take place from Wednesday, May 1 to Monday, May 6 incorporating a carefully curated mix of international jazz icons, up-and-coming new artists, unique one-off performances, world premieres, masterclasses, family-friendly shows, industry talks, free events and lots more.
With a cross-generational theme that brings together jazz legends with the very latest new artists, the Festival will play host to a string of world-class artists including the legendary 100 million-selling US vocalist Dionne Warwick; Grammy-winning singer Gregory Porter – who will perform twice at the Festival, in a very special solo show and a collaboration with Blues House of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra; English dance-pop star Sophie EllisBextor, whose 2001 hit song Murder On The Dancefloor recently made a return to the Top 10 following its inclusion in cult film Saltburn; multi-platinum-selling reggae royalty UB40, who’ll perform a career spanning set; powerhouse South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo; the distinctive, soulful singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti; electronica/trip-hop pioneers Morcheeba; Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman and BBC 6 Music presenter Huey Morgan; and acid jazz and funk group the Brand New Heavies who’ll be joined onstage by players from the London Concert Orchestra. In a major tribute to British blues, a luminary of the scene, Robert Plant, will also perform a set with Saving Grace feat. Suzi Dian mixes his latest music with old favourites.
The Festival will once again host the most exciting and revered artists from across the contemporary jazz scene including New York collective Snarky Puppy, US piano giant Brad Mehldau, one of the most celebrated British jazz musicians of all time Courtney Pine – who’ll be marking his 60th birthday with a special edition of his Caribbean themed, dance-inducing House of Legends project – Grammy-nominated American trumpeter Theo Croker, genre-defying Scottish multiinstrumentalist and producer corto. alto, the hotly tipped saxophonist and bandleader Lakecia Benjamin, New Zealand Australian singer-songwriter Jordan Rakei, and a double bill featuring 10-piece afro-jazz outfit Nubiyan Twist and West Africa’s iconic dance band Orchestra Baobab.
Dedicated to making a positive contribution to the ongoing music festival gender divide, Cheltenham Jazz Festival is signed up to the Keychange programme and aims for an equal gender balance across the breadth of its line-up. This year’s programme is notable for its huge array of boundary-pushing female vocalists including Malian singer and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara, MOBO award-winning Zara McFarlane, the bold Newcastle-born singer-songwriter Nadine Shah, much-loved UK singer and broadcaster Clare Teal, multi-Grammy Award-winning Dee Dee Bridgewater, distinguished singer and actress Elaine Delmar, rising jazz/soul star CHERISE, Brit jazz mainstay Liane Carroll, one of America’s finest vocal talents Bettye Lavette, the multi-talented Allysha Joy, and one of the all-time great jazz singers Norma Winstone. The Festival’s commitment to talent development is at the centre of the programme, with this year’s annual Showcase event featuring rising stars Amahla and Ruta Di.
2024 will also see the return of the Parabola Arts Centre programme, which is dedicated to new, innovative music from around the world. Gracing the stage this year will be British saxophonist Trish Clowes performing alongside US trumpeter Dave Douglas, rising Brit jazz pianist Sultan Stevenson, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Nikki Yeoh together present “Speechmik Ex-Ploration”, free jazz virtuoso Charlotte Keeffe, and Mercury Music Prize nominee Kit Downes who will perform a special set with Norma Winstone.
The Festival also features a significant “… around Town” element that sees unsigned and local talent play in venues across Cheltenham, including The Wilson, John Gordons and grassroots venues the Frog and Fiddle and the Bottle of Sauce. Part of the Festival’s wider commitment to talent development and local arts scenes, performers will include Plymouth’s Joanna Cooke, Gloucestershire natives GS Collective, and sets from acts from the UK’s pioneering jazz music education and artist development organisations, Tomorrow’s Warriors Youth Ensemble and Jazz North’s Ni Maxine.
Festival Director Ian George:
“We’ve worked incredibly hard for this year’s programme to reflect the full breadth of the jazz spectrum. We have jazz legends and crossover stars nestled between an incredible array of up-and-coming talent and it could well be our broadest line-up to date.” Cheltenham Jazz Festival takes place in a tented Festival village in the town centre’s Montpellier Gardens, which features the Big Top stage, Jazz Arena, Free Stage, a programme of family activities and events and street food traders. The Festival also stretches beyond the central public gardens and across the town, bringing jazz to venues throughout the day and late into the night including Cheltenham Town Hall, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre, Hotel du Vin and the vibrant, fun, and – in an exciting new partnership for the Festival – in the unique urban woodland atmosphere of Cotswold favourite, Dunkertons Tap Room.