Bristol, 15 to 18 March
This annual event – now in its sixth year of existence – has established itself as a guarantee of great talent. 2018 is no exception – and there’s even some familiar Guitarist faces in the line-up…
“It’s always been my goal to provide a festival programme that appeals to as many music fans as possible,” the festival’s Artistic Director Denny Illet tells us. “I try to represent as many styles of jazz and blues as the schedule allows and I hope we succeed with that. Being a guitar player, I always like to programme in a few choice axemen into the festival line-up and this year is no exception.”
He’s not wrong. And things start very strong indeed — jazz masters Martin Taylor and Ulf Wakenius play a duo show of the first day with the Friday bringing a rare return to the UK for a show from Matt Schofield, who will host an Advanced Blues masterclass the following day at the nearby Folk House venue. Jump Blues maestro and occasional
Guitarist contributor Chris Corcoran will also host his own masterclass alongside his rhythm section, to help players understand the art of blues with swing.
The Saturday will also see another special duo performance with Ant Law playing an 8-string guitar for a unique contemporary jazz collaboration with the acclaimed classical percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.
Clapton, Bruce and Baker fans are in for a treat too with last year’s Slight Return lineup who played a performance of Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love in full, now turning their attention to the 50th anniversary of Cream’s final 60s gig. That means Guitarist’s own editor-in-chief Jamie Dickson, contributor and Guitar Techniques editor Neville Marten and former Guitarist editor Mick Taylor, now of That Pedal Show, joining forces as players once more.
Neville tells us we’ll get Cream classics, and deeper cuts too. “What surprised even me was how many great Cream songs exist in the public consciousness,” he tells us. “For instance, I Feel Free, Strange Brew, White Room, Badge, Sunshine Of Your Love… but quite a few album tracks too, such as Born Under A Bad Sign, Crossroads,
Politician and so on. So expect all the ‘greatest hits’ but also some of the better and lesser-known album tracks – those that Cream fans will appreciate, but so will the casual observer.”
So what are the biggest challenges with three guitarists tackling this material?
“It’s good and it’s bad for all of us in a way,” Neville admits. “There are obvious ‘big’ ones that everyone is quietly wishing they get — the impressive solos, the heaviest riffs and so on. But, at the same time, it’s brilliant to be able to do double meaty rhythm tracks and riffs, play actual twin guitar harmonies and so on. We’re all very respectful of each others’ preferences and abilities though, so it’s certainly not a prima donna show as there’s plenty of great stuff to go around. Plus, there’s plenty of harmony vocals, which Mick and I particularly enjoy doing.”
There’s even more 50th anniversary action on the final day with the Electric Lady Big Band, a project realised by Denny himself, celebrating 50 years of Hendrix’s masterpiece Electric Ladyland.
Inspired by the album of Jimi’s music released by the Gil Evans Orchestra in 1974, Denny and his 16-piece big band will re-imagine the whole of Electric Ladyland featuring many of the UK’s greatest jazz and blues soloists.
Matt Schofield will make a rare UK appearance for a show and masterclass
Expect great things from Chris Corcoran’s blues seminar