When Colin Gorrie and Denny Ilett started the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival, they shared the belief that a city like Bristol needed, and deserved, a high-calibre festival dedicated to jazz and blues.
Bristol’s long and illustrious association with jazz dates back to the 1950s and 1960s when a dizzying array of stars – including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald – regularly played to sell-out audiences at Colston Hall.
And so Colin and Denny’s set out to produce a jazz and blues festival unlike any other for a maverick city that likes to break the rules.
The programme is designed to appeal to music lovers of all ages and tastes and over the past few years the event has successfully grown and diversified its audience considerably.
This year audiences can enjoy Get The Blessing presenting ‘Bristopolis, using archive footage and music to tell the story of jazz in the city. The Bruce/Ilett Big Band will help audiences party like it’s 1949 and radio and TV star and jazz vocalist Clare Teal will bring her energetic and swinging nine-piece ensemble to the festival.
What makes this such a special event is the way the festival, approaching its sixth year, celebrates jazz and blues in a way that makes these hugely important musical genres accessible and appealing to a wide and diverse audience, from primary school children all the way up to pensioners.
With 50% audience growth and a growing appeal, the festival is one of Bristol’s biggest music events and while it’s largely based at the Colston Hall, involves 50 events that take place across the city centre.
See the festival’s official website for updates as the event weekend gets closer.