Cheltenham Jazz Festival


For the musicians of London’s recent jazz resurgence, the pristine Regency architecture and middle-class suburbia of Cheltenham is a long way from home. Now in its 23rd year and having historically broken acts including Jamie Cullum and Soweto Kinch into the jazz world, the festival has nevertheless often been in stark contrast to the London scene and spaces such as Total Refreshment Centre and Church of Sound, where open communality is key.

For its 2019 edition, though, Cheltenham took on a more relaxed form, expanding from multi-venue pop-ups to taking over the town entirely, putting on everything from big-top festival headliners to pavement buskers and after-hours sessions, where the new generation made their presence felt. Pianist and producer Alfa Mist, a criminally underrated staple of the London scene, exemplified this. Playing his deft hip-hop inflected compositions from latest album Structuralism, he featured trumpeter Johnny Woodham on a series of coruscating solos and the beautiful vocals of bassist Kaya Thomas-Dyke on the languid Breathe.

Read the review in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 06/05/19]