It started with a gig. The pianist, the bass player and the singer looked at each other and said “Let’s start a festival!” As you do.
And they did! In 2014, with no money but with a drive fuelled by their passion for jazz, they recruited some fellow musicians and set up Cambridge Jazz Weekend. Their aim then, as now, was to bring together all the many strands of the strong Cambridge jazz scene into one glorious jazz binge. It went so well that they subsequently received some funding from the Arts Council and attracted local sponsorship. And so the Cambridge Jazz Festival was born.
Now in its third year, the Festival is still run by that original team who put it all together whilst holding down their day jobs. Their mission is to offer an outlet for local jazz musicians, to create a forum which will attract national and international jazz acts to Cambridge and to encourage community involvement through a programme of workshops.
This year’s Festival runs over fifteen days, from 11 – 26 November, and offers a packed schedule of vibrant live music at locations across the city. It celebrates the variety of jazz styles from dixieland to choral and big band to gypsy. “Jazz is a magpie music,” says Gavin Spence, a co-founder of the Festival. “It’s adopted and adapted constantly so this year we’re featuring hip hop and electronica styles of jazz too.” The Festival closes with a day of New Gen Jazz at The Corn Exchange, featuring eleven up and coming young bands, to showcase a new generation of talent.
The programme, much of which is free or low cost, includes events for children (many of the mainstream events are also child-friendly), a poetry night, films, workshops and much more. You can book tickets online at http://www.cambridgejazzfestival.info