A 10th winter’s jazz at Southport

The 10th ‘Jazz On A Winter’s Weekend’ festival at Southport features Jean Toussaint Art Themen, Alan Barnes, Robert Fowler and more

Southport celebrates its 10th year of jazz next January with the return of the town's “Jazz On A Winter’s Weekend” festival, running from Friday 31 January to Sunday 2 February 2014.

Held at the Royal Clifton Hotel on Southport’s Promenade, the festival is designed to offer a non-stop jazz programme over the weekend with no overlaps or waits between concerts.

As well as the headline acts there are also fringe events including talks, exhibitions, workshops, and a supply of real ale on tap.

Tenor and soprano sax player Jean Toussaint with the Reuben James Trio is the first act on Friday, exploring John Coltrane’s music from his album Ballads. This is followed by the Lennon & McCartney Big Band on Friday evening, with musical director Ian Darrington putting a jazz twist on Beatles favourites with the help of a big band including Alan Barnes on alto sax and AJ Brown providing alto support and vocals.

The next day’s entertainment gets underway with the Art Themen Quintet on Saturday morning, with the septuagenarian presenting “New Directions”, which he says aims to “reinterpret some of the more challenging tunes by established writers and … create something exciting but still accessible and appealing”. Freddie Bryant (pictured) brings his Kaleidoscope Trio for Saturday afternoon, with Bryant described by Kenny Burrell as "a brilliant young guitarist and composer". The Bunch of Fives Quintet is Saturday night’s performance, a high-energy sax-duelling act featuring Alex Garnett and Tim Armacost.

Sunday’s programme begins with Robert Fowler’s “Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band”, with Fowler on baritone sax presenting some reinterpreted Mulligan/Brookmeyer arrangements with his 12-piece band. Gordon Jack reviewed the band in July. Alan Barnes and his octet present “Carte Blanche” on Sunday evening, with Barnes’ own arrangements of some of his favourite straight-ahead jazz. The festival closes with the Brandon Allen Quartet late on Sunday evening, featuring Australian saxophonist Allen and his quartet who play a weekly gig at Ronnie Scott’s.

Tickets for the whole weekend are £135, with day tickets £44-55 and gig tickets £14-24. These can be purchased by calling 01704 541790. More info at jazzinsouthport.co.uk.

Sally Evans-Darby

Photo by Elmer Lemes

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