Jazz in Cleo's garden

The 14th annual Music In The Garden festival includes Kansas Smitty, Tina May, Enrico Tomasso, Robert Fowler and Pointless presenter Alexander Armstrong & band

For the 14th year running Dame Cleo Laine will again host Music In The Garden at her Wavendon gardens this summer, with five weekends of open-air jazz from 14 June to 13 July.

The line-up this year includes a jazz turn from Alexander Armstrong (pictured), Pointless host and one half of comedy duo Armstrong and Miller whose career has lately taken a more musical direction, as well as Jacqui Dankworth, Tina May, Simon Spillett and Enrico Tomasso.

The festival opens with the Mark Nightingale/Alistair White Quintet on Saturday 14 June, with their jazz trombone 'Sound Of J&K'. Cleo Laine and Friends with guest Earl Okin follow on Saturday afternoon, with Brass Jaw and Pedro Segundo’s Kansas Smitty House Band completing the first weekend’s entertainment on Sunday.

Weekend two (21-22 June) kicks off with Alexander Armstrong and His Band with their unique take on a surprising range of pop, jazz and rock, followed by the 13-piece Mulligan Concert Jazz Band paying tribute to Gerry Mulligan with Robert Fowler on sax.

The third weekend of the festival (28-29 June) sees Allison Neale then John Bird with James Pearson and trio take to the stage, as well as Christian Garrick and Peter Fisher’s tribute to Grappelli and Menuhin.

Weekend four (5-6 July) features more tributes with Enrico Tomasso’s ‘Trumpet Greats’ set and Tina May’s ‘Divas’, as well as the Eddie Harvey Award Band and Simon Spillett’s ‘Standard Miles’ rounding off the weekend on Sunday.

The final weekend of the festival (12-13 July) concludes with Perfect singer Eddie Reader followed by Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood who will play the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Dame Cleo founded Music In The Garden with husband John Dankworth in 2000 with the aim of raising funds for their charity the Wavendon Foundation, which is “dedicated to the furtherance of good music” and has supported many young artists, educators and youth orchestras over the years.

Concerts at the festival are held under an all-weather canopy with the opportunity to hire your own gazebo or picnic on the lawns. There are also refreshments, a bar, craft and book stalls and free parking. The gardens can be found next to the Stables Theatre in Wavendon near Milton Keynes (full directions here).

Tickets can be booked either online through the Stables Theatre or by calling the box office on 01908 280800. More info is at musicinthegarden.org.uk.

Sally Evans-Darby

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