Preview: Jazz On A Winter's Weekend

Southport's Jazz On A Winter's Weekend returns for the 12th time, with a programme of contemporary jazz from an international array of performers

The festival, which its director Geoff Matthews calls " event to tempt contemporary jazz enthusiasts to brave the winter winds," has sold out each year since 2008. The 2016 incarnation takes place at Southport's Best Western Royal Clifton Hotel and Spa from Friday 5 February to Sunday 7 February.

The festival has always aimed to create a programme with an international flavour and the 2016 festival includes musicians from Denmark, France, Norway and the USA as well as from the four corners of the UK.

Over 70 musicians will be appearing across the 11 concerts of the main festival. British vocalist Ben Cox gets the programme under way on Friday afternoon. Veteran guitarist Jim Mullen plays the final concert on Sunday evening, in the company of the Neil Burns Trio.

Other star attractions from the UK include the Royal College Of Music Big Band, featuring guest trumpeter Ryan Quigley; Alec Dankworth's Spanish Accents, a septet led by the bassist (pictured right by Bruce Lindsay) and featuring guitarist Phil Robson; and the David Newton/Iain Dixon Quartet.

Barnes-O'Higgins and the Sax Section, an octet led by Alan Barnes and Dave O'Higgins and featuring Sam Mayne and Karen Sharpe (pictured left by Bruce Lindsay) will perform on Sunday evening.The band's set will contain original compositions as well as early Duke Ellington tunes.

The festival also sees concerts from Danish singer and instrumentalist Mads Mathias and from Paris-based violinist Daniel John Martin. Baritone saxophonist Frank Basile, from the USA, will join trumpeter Steve Fishwick and tenor player Osian Roberts in the Fishwick, Roberts, Basile Sextet (with Matt Fishwick on drums).

Another American saxophonist, Patrick Cornelius, will present the European debut of his suite While We're Still Young. The work, commissioned by Chamber Music America, was inspired by the children's poems of A.A. Milne. Cornelius's band will feature Fishwick and Robson, as well as saxophonist Alex Garnett.

Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset (pictured right), will perform with pianist Ivo Neame, bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Anton Eger. The festival organisers say that they have given the young saxophonist "free choice of material" for the date.

There's also a Jazz On A Winter's Weekend Fringe, a guitar workshop, exhibitions and talks (details of these events are not yet available).

Weekender tickets cost £135. Day tickets are also available (Friday £42, Saturday £68, Sunday £58). Tickets for individual gigs, ranging from £14 to £22, go on sale from 1 November (subject to availability).

More details can be found at the festival's website. Ticket order forms can be found here.

Bruce Lindsay

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