Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender

Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender | Friday 19 October to Sunday 21 October 2018 | Middlesbrough Town Hall

Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender   |   Friday 19 October to Sunday 21 October 2018   |   Middlesbrough Town Hall

Welcome to Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender!

Both familiar and new, traditional and cutting edge, jazz music can simultaneously evoke a sense of nostalgia whilst pushing new boundaries and reaching new audiences. As a Town Hall for the 21st Century, a venue steeped in tradition whilst championing the innovative and inventive, we are delighted to present the inaugural Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender – a forward-looking and exciting festival featuring performances from some of the UK’s most contemporary young acts, whilst keeping one eye firmly on the traditions that make this music so accessible and universal.

The last time there was a major jazz festival in Middlesbrough was the ‘Newport Jazz Festival at Ayresome Park’ in July, 1978, where large crowds of local jazz enthusiasts still remember seeing such stars as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton. We are delighted that two of the acts from that special weekend, Chris Barber and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, are returning to us for this festival 40 years on. We will mark this anniversary with an exhibition of memorabilia from that weekend, and anyone interested in contributing materials to that should contact the Town Hall Box Office at Middlesbrough Town Hall at [email protected].

Looking to the future, we hope that there’s plenty on offer over this Jazz Weekender to interest you.

Contemporary acts such as Manchester-based Beats & Pieces Big Band, Break Out Brass Band, and Mercury-nominated band Dinosaur will light the way, and new commissions from female jazz composers Nikki Iles and trumpeter Laura Jurd will showcase the work of some of the UK’s most talented new jazz artists. Texas born singer Hailey Tuck, who recently featured on Later with Jools Holland and Teesside born trumpeter Noel Dennis feature as part of a packed Sunday afternoon, before the weekend culminates in a visit from one of the most exciting American ensembles, the Mingus Big Band.

Special offer!

Book for any 3 of these concerts and get £1 off per ticket!
Book for 4 or more of these concerts and get £2 off per ticket!

The Big Chris Barber Band
Family Jazz All Stars
Sunday Afternoon Jazz in the Crypt
Mingus Big Band

Gather and Sing Tomorrow

Friday 19 October 2018 | 1.30pm
Main Hall

Back in June 2018, children from 14 primary schools from across the Tees Valley travelled to London’s Royal Festival Hall to perform Rainbow Nation: Gather and Sing along with children from other areas celebrating the hope of tomorrow through music and song. The show was a resounding success, bringing together the proud heritage of diverse areas, individuals and communities and demonstrating the difference we can all make if we stand and sing together, with our voices raised as one.

Now, some of the Tees Valley children involved, including pupils from Brambles, Dormanstown, Pennyman and Wilton Academies present Gather and Sing Tomorrow in a ‘homecoming’ gig at the Town Hall, supported by a team of top class musicians led by composer and educator Pete Churchill, with Katie Teage, Adam Saunders and more.

Beats & Pieces

Date: Friday 19 October 2018 | 7:30pm 

Beats & Pieces Big Band take the big band sound to places it’s never been before, with a distinctive blend of rocking energy and precise dynamics, infectious floor-filling rhythms, and generous individual freedom and tight collective interplay. Embracing modern textures and techniques while acknowledging and celebrating their big band lineage, they’ve earned a reputation for a joyful interaction between audience and band, with songs to make you think, dance, laugh and cry.

A driving force of the vibrant Manchester music scene and one of the most striking ensembles of its kind, the group continues to win new fans and friends across Europe and beyond. Beats & Pieces is not an average ‘big band’ – rather a band that’s big.

“Fast becoming one of the foundations of the current UK jazz scene, Beats & Pieces make fun, grooving, high- impact music Mancunian style… continuing the great tradition of UK big bands” Jez Nelson, BBC Jazz on 3

There hasn’t been a ‘live’ British big band since Loose Tubes with the same degree of energetic spontaneity and enjoyment of performing as this one” Jazzwise

Video at http://beatsnpieces.net/videos/

Book tickets for Beats & Pieces

National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO)

Saturday 20 October 2018 | 3 – 5.15pm (doors 2.30pm)
Main Hall

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra’s mission is to promote jazz as an exciting, engaging and inspirational art form through world-class performances and education work.

National Youth Jazz Orchestra

The UK’s premier youth (under 26) jazz orchestra, they perform around 40 concerts annually – nationally and internationally, as well as delivering inspirational education work wherever it goes. NYJO has helped launch the careers of many of the UK’s most renowned musicians, including Guy Barker, Amy Winehouse, Mark Nightingale, Laura Jurd and Gwilym Simcock, as well as Dave Arch (leader of the Strictly Come Dancing band) and most of his band.

Recent highlights of the flagship band’s concert diary include a yearly residency at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, a major European tour with the German (BuJazzO) and Dutch (NJJO) National Youth Jazz Orchestras, BBC Proms and repeat appearances at the EFG London Jazz Festival. NYJO were also one of the UK ensembles performing at ‘Newport Jazz Festival at Ayresome Park’ back in July 1978, featuring trumpeter Guy Barker at the age of 20!

Their programme will celebrate female contributions to jazz through history; from instrumentalists such as 1930’s trombonist Melba Liston, composers like Mary-Lou Williams and lyricists such as Marilyn Bergman, to some of the most exciting composers in jazz today. The centrepiece of the first half will be the world premiere of pianist and composer Nikki Iles’ new commission for the band, ‘Wild Oak’, while the second half will feature music by Mercury Award Nominee, trumpeter Laura Jurd: her arrangement of Mary Lou Williams’ Zodiac Suite and her original commission, as premiered at the BBC Proms: The Earth Keeps Spinning.

NYJO members will also be running workshops for the newly reformed Tees Valley Youth Big Band during their visit and the concert will start with a short performance by NYJO with the young people involved. Nikki Iles and Laura Jurd’s commissions for NYJO are supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund.

Book tickets for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra

The Big Chris Barber Band

Saturday 20 October 2018 | 7.30pm (doors 7pm)
Main Hall

Celebrating more than 65 years as band-leader and in his 88th year, Chris takes to the road with the Chris Barber Big Band for a Europe-wide concert tour through 2018.

Inspired by the ‘King Oliver Creole Jazz Band’, Chris formed his first Band in 1949 at the age of nineteen and has since gone on to become not only one of Europe’s most successful and influential bandleaders, but a bona fide jazz legend. Like NYJO, Chris Barber was also featured in the July 1978 Newport Jazz Festival at Ayresome Park, and has been a regular visitor to the North East since then, engaging new generations of music lovers over the decades.

With his 10-piece band, featuring a 7-strong front line, Chris plays a selection of his favourite music: from his roots in New Orleans style in ‘Bourbon Street Parade’ to the early music of Duke Ellington and Sidney Bechet … before going back to ‘When the Saints’!

The Big Chris Barber Band combine all these ingredients into an exciting, and often moving, evening of world-class jazz.

Book tickets for the Big Chris Barber Band


Saturday 20 October 2018 | 10 – 11.30pm (doors 9.30pm)

Following her appearance earlier in the day conducting her commission for NYJO, BBC New Generation artist 2015-2017 trumpeter Laura Jurd presents her groundbreaking band Dinosaur, with Elliot Galvin on keys; Conor Chaplin on Bass and Corrie Dick on drums.


2018 has seen the band back in action with some immensely colourful, new music – full of imagination and surprise. Their highly anticipated second album ‘Wonder Trail’ (released May 2018 on Edition Records) sees the band further their exploration into the world of ‘synth-pop meets jazz band’ as they present a journey of mesmerising new compositions. Expect folk-infused grooves and glistening melodies – all tied together by a love for extemporisation and improvisation.

Receiving a rare 5-star review in the Guardian for their 2016 debut album, ‘Together, As One’, the band have toured extensively in Europe and beyond at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals including North Sea Jazz, Montreal Jazz Festival and Molde International Jazz Festival. In addition, they have collaborated with some of the UK’s most celebrated ensembles including the BBC Concert Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia and the Ligeti Quartet.

Book tickets for Dinosaur

Family Jazz All-Stars with Zoe Gilby and Band

Sunday 21 October 2018 | 11 am – 12 noon (doors 10.30am)

Hear the stunning vocals of singer Zoe Gilby plus her band Noel Dennis, Mark Williams, Andy Champion and Richard Brown in a friendly show for all the family including songs from jazz down the years as well as her distinctive take on popular classics, plus plenty of opportunities to join in!

Ages 5+.

Book tickets for Family Jazz All-Stars

How to make the words dance – vocal workshop with Pete Churchill

Sunday 21 October 2018 | 11am – 1pm (doors 10.30am)

Pete Churchill is a hugely experienced jazz educator who specialises in running vocal workshops and ensembles. This workshop will focus on connecting the body and the text, developing skills in learning by ear enabling singers to learn an astonishing amount of material in a very short time. So come and prove you groove! Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to share what they’ve learnt at the start of the afternoon’s Freestage programme.

Open to all ages.

Book tickets for How to make the words dance

Sunday Afternoon Jazz in the Crypt

Sunday 21 October 2018 | 2 – 6.30pm (doors 1.30pm)

A series of high quality and contrasting bands from the region and beyond – a chance to see four bands all of whom would normally command a whole evening – fantastic value and not to be missed!

The bands include:

Already lauded for her live shows, featured on Later…with Jools Holland and tipped by Nylon, People Magazine and Marie Claire, Texas born jazz singer Hailey Tuck is on a mission to turn jazz on its head.

Hailey Tuck

Junk, her spectacular debut album for Sony, is infused with her powerhouse personality, her love of the dark side of life and her carefree approach to convention. Produced by the multi Grammy Award winning Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Melody Gardot) it features songs by artists as diverse as Leonard Cohen, Pulp, The Kinks and Paul McCartney. Her UK band includes jazz pianist Rick Simpson who grew up in Guisborough, near Middlesbrough, and before going to London to study jazz at the Guildhall School of Music was a member of the youth jazz ensemble Jambone based at Sage Gateshead.

Aurora with Noel Dennis, Zoe Gilby, Andy Champion and Mark Williams present an exciting new collaboration exploring the music of American jazz trumpeter Tom Harrell with new songs written by Zoe.

Well known Teesside born jazz trumpeter Noel Dennis is now enjoying having returned to Teesside to take up a role as Principal Lecturer and MBA Programme Leader at Teesside University where he brings his jazz skills to the field of management training! Here he is joined by one of the North East’s favourite vocalists- Zoe Gilby, plus her regular musical collaborators including her husband Andy Champion on bass.

The Ushaw Ensemble originally formed to perform a specially commissioned suite to celebrate the life and story of St. Cuthbert, this septet founded by composer, pianist, educator Paul Edis is made up of some of the best musicians from the North East from jazz and beyond, including the acclaimed Northumbrian Piper Andy May. Fusing elements of folk, contemporary classical and jazz, the band were chosen as one of the Jazz North – Northern Line ambassador artists in 2017/2018.

The Printmakers featuring some of the finest UK performers of recent years, including pianist/ composer Nikki Iles (following her Saturday performance with NYJO) Grammy nominated and ECM recording artist singer Norma Winstone, saxophonist Mark Lockheart, guitarist Mike Walker, Steve Watts on bass and James Maddren on drums. The group formed at the instigation of Steve Mead at The Manchester Jazz Festival several years ago and since then has gone from strength to strength.

Book tickets for Sunday Afternoon Jazz in the Crypt

Tots Play Jazz

Sunday 21 October 2018 | 2.30pm (doors 2pm)
The Studio

This fun-packed show from guitarist Chris Sharkey provides an exciting and engaging musical experience for toddlers, providing an introduction to jazz as well as an enjoyable musical moment for children and families.

Ages 2-5.

Book tickets for Tots Play Jazz

Mingus Big Band

Sunday 21 October 2018 | 7.30pm (doors 7pm)
Main Hall

The Jazz Weekender culminates in one of the finest large-scale jazz ensembles coming out of the USA today. The Mingus Big Band celebrates the music of the acclaimed composer/bassist Charles Mingus, who died in 1979. One of the most important figures in twentieth century American music, he wrote music that is still far ahead of its time.

Mingus Big Band

A virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer, Mingus recorded over a hundred albums and wrote over three hundred compositions, leaving the second-largest legacy in American music after Ellington. Mingus received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Smithsonian Institute, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

After his death, under the artistic direction of Charles Mingus’ wife Sue, this 14-piece band continued to present his music, performing on Thursday nights from 1991 to 2004 at ‘Fez under Time’ Cafe in New York City, maintaining residencies in the city from May 2004 until October 2008, when it began “Mingus Mondays” at Jazz Standard alternating with the Mingus Orchestra and Mingus Dynasty.

The Mingus Big Band now tours extensively in the United States and abroad, and has ten recordings to its credit, seven of which have been nominated for Grammys. The band not only attracts audiences that might not typically come to see jazz, it provides a home base for many of today’s top performers and exciting new players. The Mingus Big Band regularly tops the lists in critics and readers polls. In 2009, NPR selected the Mingus Big Band to ring in the new year for their nationwide broadcast and podcast. The 2010 Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard was awarded the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

Book tickets for the Mingus Big Band

Fire Station Stage

The Fire Station Free Stage will also present a range of bands from the North East and beyond between the ticketed concerts so the music can flow uninterrupted though the weekend.

These will include one of the North East’s most popular classic jazz duos – guitarist James Birkett and violinist Emma Fisk – who specialise in the music of such well known figures as Django Reinhardt and Joe Venuti on Saturday Oct 20, and Chronotic Brass, the energetic young brass line up originating from Durham University, who were a major hit at the DJAZZ Festival last year, on Sunday Oct 21.

Times tbc.