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Roberto Fonseca joins Gateshead International Jazz Festival line-up

Posted on 18 December 2015

GRAMMY nominated and award-winning Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca joins the line-up for Gateshead International Jazz Festival. The festival, the UK’s biggest held under one roof, runs from Friday 15 – Sunday 17 April 2016 at Sage Gateshead.

The fully-fledged Buena Vista Social Club prodigy was born in Havana into a musical family and started studying piano at the age of 8, drawing inspiration from afro-Cuban music and jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, but also old American funk and soul classics. Roberto has gone on to work with various members of the Buena Vista Social Club including stars such as Omara Portuondo, Ibrahim Ferrer and Rubén González and he has recently collaborated with Mali’s music sensation Fatoumata Diawara.

Ros Rigby, Performance Programme Director, said:
“We’re very excited to bring Roberto Fonseca to next year’s festival. We first brought him to the North East to perform to a packed Newcastle City Hall audience back in 2003 as a relatively unknown young virtuoso pianist with Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer, a concert that was part of our pre-opening programme. He returned after Sage Gateshead’s opening, as Music Director for Ferrer in May 2005, and then performed to a sold out Sage Two crowd in 2007 with his own band. He returned with the Columbian salsa collective LA-33 in 2009 and with Gilles Peterson’s Havana Cultura project in 2010 before opening the 8th Gateshead International Jazz Festival in 2012. It has been great to be part of his journey over the years and for this concert, he will be bringing his trio – Ramsés ‘Dynamite’ Rodriguez on drums and Yandy Martinez on bass.”

Also announced for the festival is a special concert for children aged 2-5 years, proving you are never too young to be a jazzer. Jazz for Toddlers, developed by festival co-producers Serious and following sell out shows at the EFG London Jazz Festival last month will be led by British-Asian clarinettist and composer Arun Ghosh and Taiko drummer and percussionist Nao Masuda.

Fonseca will be joining the previously announced headliners including GRAMMY award-winning singer Gregory Porter, leading British saxophonist and festival favourite Courtney Pine, Mobo award-winning pianist, Zoe Rahman and trumpeter/composer and former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Terence Blanchard with his new quintet, the E-Collective, in a powerful fusion of funk, R&B and rock. Headlining Sunday night is American soul maestro Charles Bradley. His well-documented against-all-odds rise saw him transcend a bleak life on the streets before being discovered by Daptone Records.

Other artists announced include award-winning singer-pianist Liane Carroll, described by Jamie Cullum as ‘one of the greatest singers we have in this country’. Saxophonist John Surman emerged as part of a gifted generation of British jazz artists in the 60s – proving the age gap is no barrier to creativity, he is joined in a brand new quartet by the Alexander Hawkins Trio, featuring three of the UK’s finest young jazz performers.

British-Asian clarinettist and composer, Arun Ghosh, has been captivating audiences and critics alike with his trademark IndoJazz sound and Ibrahim Maalouf, widely regarded as one of the finest trumpeters of his generation and a pioneering figure in the contemporary jazz world, fuses pop, electro, soul, hip-hop with the music of his Lebanese roots in the UK premiere of his super-charged new Impulse CD Red and Black Light.

Café Society Swing features stellar vocalists and some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians in a show that tells the true story of the legendary New York nightclub which promoted racial equality and great music. Following sold-out gigs at Ronnie Scott’s and the Brecon Jazz Festival we’re pleased to welcome award-winning British jazz saxophonist Simon Spillett and his quartet to the festival in a tribute to a revered British modern jazz star of the 50s and 60s, the late Tubby Hayes. The performance will follow a screening of the documentary film, Tubby Hayes: A Man in a Hurry, released earlier this year.

Fans of free jazz and improvisation will be treated to a solo performance from one of the most admired and influential saxophonists on the planet, Evan Parker.

Award-winning British punk-jazz-funk specialists, WorldService Project bring to the festival high-octane experimental but accessible music – think Frank Zappa, Loose Tubes and Stravinsky, played loud.

As always the festival brings some of the newest and brightest lights on the international jazz scene to Gateshead. New York-based pianist and composer Kris Bowers is a leading voice in a vibrant new wave of genre bending jazz musicians. He collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on the hit album Watch the Throne, scored movies, and is a past winner of the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. Saxophonist Phil Meadows is fast emerging as one of the UK’s most creative young jazz musicians. A former lead alto for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, he performs in several ensembles and collaborations including the acclaimed Phil Meadows Group and Engines Orchestra. In a special matinee concert Phil and his band will be joined by our very own Royal Northern Sinfonia and youth ensemble Jambone performing a new arrangement for larger forces of his acclaimed suite Lifecycles.

Airelle Besson’s sumptuous trumpet sound is catching the ears of listeners far beyond her native France. Her delicately nuanced duo with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras – discovered by Pat Metheny – is a masterpiece of chamber jazz. Malija is a brand new all-star trio, featuring saxophonist Mark Lockheart (Polar Bear), pianist Liam Noble and bassist Jasper Høiby (Phronesis). Pianist and composer Michel Reis splits time between his Luxembourg home and the USA, where he has performed with Dave Holland, Joe Lovano and Esperanza Spalding. He shares a double bill with John Law, who brings all his varied influences – from jazz through classical music and electronica – together in his new project, Congregation.

The ever popular free programme of jazz on the Concourse returns where on Saturday BBC Radio 3 will present a selection of national and international jazz artists recorded for a future edition of Jazz Line Up and on Sunday Jazz North East, celebrating their 50th anniversary year will present their choice of local and Northern artists.

Plus there will festival workshops, family fun, talks, late night club and much more still to be announced. Keep an eye on the website for further updates.

With all events taking place under one roof it couldn’t be easier to move between concerts and try something new. Bookers can take advantage of the Jazz Multi-Buy – the more concerts booked across the weekend the more money saved.

Tickets go on sale for Roberto Fonseca and Jazz for Toddlers Friday 18 December, 10am online at sagegateshead.com and 12noon at Ticket Office either in person or by calling 0191 443 4661.

ENDS