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Pianist Roberto Fonseca to open eighth Gateshead International Jazz Festival

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  December 19, 2011 | 0 Comments

Roberto Fonseca will have the honour of opening the eighth Gateshead International Jazz Festival in March 2012 ©

Jazz from across the globe will fill every corner of the Sage Gateshead for three days next spring.

The eighth Gateshead International Jazz Festival gets underway at the unique North East music venue on March 23, 2012.

The first such event in the UK jazz calendar, Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, popular at The Sage Gateshead from appearances with Ibrahim Ferrer and his own band, will open the festival in the magnificent Hall One.

Meanwhile, in the more intimate surroundings of Hall Two the funkier side of jazz gets going with Porkchop and Pee Wee Ellis (James Brown’s saxophonist), and in the festival’s very own Jazz Lounge, will be one of the world’s great alto saxophonists, Peter King with his quartet.

With other headliners such as Curtis Stigers, well known as a singer and saxophonist way beyond the jazz field, next year’s programme will appeal to serious jazz enthusiasts and simply fans of good music alike.

Other American artists include the superb pianist Marcus Roberts and trumpeter Ambrose Akimusire.

The festival also celebrates the best in UK jazz with a unique double bill of two of the leading musicians of the past two decades – Andy Sheppard with Trio Libero (Sheppard, Michel Benita and Sebastian Rochford) and Courtney Pine with his stunning Europa project featuring him on bass clarinet.

Black Top is the latest project of one of the most captivating figures in European improvisation, British pianist Pat Thomas. Pat describes the project as “improvised dubstep – with lots of broken beats.” He appears with saxophonist Steve Williamson and vibes player Orphy Robinson.

Broadcaster Alyn Shipton brings a new project to the festival – Life is for Living – a celebration of American singer Peggy Lee. Singer-songwriter Gwyneth Herbert will join a specially created band including Alyn on bass to deliver this project. The event will be introduced with film and audio clips of Peggy Lee herself.

The piano theme continues with British/Bengali pianist Zoe Rahman, Norwegian Tord Gustavsen and a new project from Neil Cowley and a string quartet.

As always the festival will also include opportunities to learn and to participate – a festival choir will work though the weekend towards a performance on Sunday evening and The Sage Gateshead’s jazz youth ensemble, Jambone, will present their collaboration with Andy Sheppard, plus a range of master classes.

Performance Programme Director Ros Rigby comments: “Gateshead International Jazz Festival has now become established on the UK jazz calendar as an opportunity to see the very best in UK and international jazz in an action packed weekend all under one roof, and in superb performance spaces.”

The festival is produced in collaboration with international music producers Serious in association with BBC Radio 3. John Cumming, director of Serious, adds: “Serious places immense value on its role in the evolution of Gateshead International Jazz Festival. This has become an event that reflects the extraordinary range of jazz within today’s musical universe, as well as having a distinctive style that illustrates The Sage Gateshead’s commitment to music education in its broadest sense.”

Tickets are now on sale for the festival which runs between March 23-25. Visit The Sage Gateshead’s website to find out other acts added to the line up at




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