Mulatu Astatke at The Old Fruitmarket (Photo: Sean Purser)
Mulatu Astatke at The Old Fruitmarket (Photo: Sean Purser)

Audiences up almost a third at Glasgow Jazz Festival

The Glasgow Jazz Festival is celebrating a year of growth, with audiences up almost a third on last year.

The 33rd annual festival saw a 27 per cent increase in attendances this year, which staged more than 50 events across five days from Wednesday 19 to Sunday 23 June 2019.

Locations right across Glasgow were bursting with jazz talent including iconic new venues House for an Art Lover, which staged a stunning recital from Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie alongside rising stars Joe Williamson and Luca Manning, and The Planetarium at Glasgow Science Centre which hosted electronic jazz duo Herschel 36.

For the second year running, the festival pledged to ensure more than half of the acts playing included female musicians, as part of the Keychange initiative to achieve a 50:50 gender balance at festivals by 2022. The event successfully championed female talent, with 60 per cent of shows at this year’s festival featuring a female musician.

The festival has become renowned for hosting some of the biggest names in jazz, blues, soul, funk, R&B, electronic and world music. This year it welcomed musicians from Ethiopia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA who performed alongside a wealth of home-grown jazz musicians to make up the diverse and eclectic programme.

Jill Rodger, director of Glasgow Jazz Festival, said: ‘2019 has been a bumper year for the Glasgow Jazz Festival and we’re really encouraged to see such an appetite for jazz from audiences. We always aim to bring a breadth of musical talent from local and international jazz scenes to the city and this year’s programme has had great appeal, with thousands of people enjoying the best musical performances in some truly stunning venues.

Mulatu Astatke at The Old Fruitmarket (Photo: Sean Purser)

‘It’s tremendous to see the event grow and to have successfully achieved our Keychange pledge to champion female talent in the industry. The calibre of talent across the five days of the festival was sensational.’

Headliners included Ethiopian musician and arranger Mulatu Astatke, known as the father of Ethio-jazz, David McAlmont who gave his unique interpretations of Billie Holiday’s extraordinary life story, and The Old Fruitmarket triple bill of young Scottish bands Mezcla, Graham Costello’s Strata and the 14-piece instrumental collective Fat-Suit.

Fresh from touring with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, British Jamaican soul singer Ruby Turner treated audiences to her undeniable vocal talent and Scottish Jazz Award Vocalist of the Year Georgia Cecile wowed crowds at an intimate Blue Arrow gig, while the closing night of the festival saw Brooklyn singer-songwriter Madison McFerrin will showcase her soulful take on acappella to Glasgow.

Scottish jazz bands were also showcased to 120 delegates from across the UK and Ireland as part of this year’s Jazz Promotion Network Conference which took place during the Thursday and Friday of the festival.

The festival took place thanks to funding from Glasgow City Council and Creative Scotland, and is supported by new charity partner Help Musicians Scotland who hosted a panel focusing on building a resilient career for jazz musicians in Scotland.

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