This week in Bristol and Me, we speak to Katya Gorrie, assistant producer of Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival
We’re going into our seventh year of the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival and it has grown every year, so I think we’re doing something right. We work hard to say “If you think you don’t like jazz, come along, there’ll be something you like.” There’s such a broad spectrum of talent and style – our biggest band is Gipsy Kings, at the O2 Academy.
It’s going to be really interesting, moving from Colston Hall into the outside world – the two main venues are St George’s and the Anson Rooms. The latter will act like the Colston Hall, with a main room, smaller theatre and studio, where we’ll be holding our workshops, and the Balloon Bar will essentially be our foyer stage. In the last couple of years there’s been a lot of feedback from people saying they want more blues, so there’s a whole day – and pass – dedicated to it.
The festival isn’t just about performance, but people practising their own art as well. We’ve been encouraging young players to come along, connecting with schools – we always have a big band from one of the colleges. For the first time we’ll be doing family swing dancing, too.
Jazz singer Liane Carroll blows my mind, so I’ll be going along to her masterclass. Other artists doing them include Dennis Rollins, Josh Smith and Kirk Fletcher, and we’ll have Pee Wee Ellis – James Brown’s former saxophonist – in conversation. He’s an extraordinary player and such a delightful person as well. Like our masterclass leaders, he’ll be playing his own set, too. My band, Moscow Drug Club, will be launching our fourth album. It’s loosely themed on love, loss, lust and death – you know, the big ones! What do we sound like? Somebody came up with a phrase the other day: “The transcendent troubadours of gipsy, Latin and swing.”
There’s nothing else quite like the festival. It’s got its own signature, offers something for everyone. Every year, people come away going “Wow, that was a human experience as well as a musical one.”
Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival takes place from March 22–24: bristoljazzandbluesfest.com