Preview: Ribble Valley Jazz Festival

The Ribble Valley Jazz Fest announces star names and shows for the more intimate audience, with Claire Martin and Courtney Pine heading the bill

The seventh Ribble Valley Jazz Fest, taking place from 28 April to 2 May (the May Bank Holiday weekend), features 50 bands - over 350 musicians - in large and small venues across Clitheroe. Star performers include Claire Martin and Ray Gelato, Courtney Pine and Zoe Rahman, Snarky Puppy's Bill Laurance and musician-in-residence Arun Ghosh.

Bill Laurance opens festivities with a concert from his quartet on Thursday 28 April, featuring music from his forthcoming third album, Aftersun. Bassist Ben Crosland heads the programme on Friday 29 April with The Ray Davies Songbook, a tribute to songwriter and singer Ray Davies, perhaps one of the most quintessentially English of songwriters. Crosland's band features saxophonist Dave O'Higgins, guitarist John Ethridge, keyboard player Steve Lodder and drummer Sebastiaan de Krom. 

Saturday 30 April is UNESCO International Jazz Day. Ribble Valley will celebrate the occasion with two events: an afternoon performance from Martin Taylor and an evening concert of classic jazz songs from Claire Martin and Ray Gelato at the Grand Theatre. Claire Martin will also present a jazz vocals masterclass during the weekend.

Clarinetist and composer Arun Ghosh will play an afternoon concert on Sunday. The festival has commissioned Ghosh to write new music for the Blackburn With Darwen Big Band, a group of 20 young musicians from Lancashire. Ghosh and the band will debut this music at the festival: there will also be a Conversation With Arun Ghosh, at which he will discuss with Jeremy Davies of Roots Music the cultural influences that have helped to develop his approach to music.

The festival's Sunday evening concert, at the Grand, features the duo of Courtney Pine and Zoe Rahman (pictured left), spotlighting their new album Song, The Ballad Book - a collection of mellow, stripped-back arrangements of jazz classics.

Other acts are to be announced. There are also plenty of smaller events and gigs across town, some free of charge. They include a Blues Stage at the Rose and Crown Hotel and "high quality shows for a more intimate audience" at The Atrium at the Castle.

Organised by Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues, the festival has gained support for the 2016 and 2017 festivals from Arts Council England and UCLAN (University of Central Lancashire). The promoters hope that the festival will deliver record audience numbers across the weekend: they're aiming for a strong national profile in 2016, whilst looking for more high-profile sponsors and local patrons to help give an international flavour to JazzFest 2017.

More details about the Ribble Valley Jazz Fest can be found at the festival website.

Tickets can be booked online at The Grand website or the festival website, at the Ticket Hotline on 01200 421599, or at The Grand Box Office, York Street, Clitheroe BB7 2QQ.

Bruce Lindsay

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