The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival has announced its programme of events for 2014. Tickets are now on sale for all 140 events at 13 venues over 10 days.

The biggest Festival of its kind in Britain presents a super-charged line-up designed to delight Festival regulars and first-timers alike. For 10 groove-packed days from Friday 18th to Sunday 27th July, venues across the capital will play host to the finest jazz and blues talent from all corners of the globe. From bop to boogie-woogie to blues-rock, from samba to swing to soul: there’s something in our programme to suit every mood and musical taste.

There are plenty of opportunities for Festival-goers to get involved with this Festival – listening, jamming, dancing, uploading photos, and more.


Look out for jazz legends, blues greats, red carpet nights, show-stopping vocalists and swingin’ vintage fun. There’s a showcase of never-before-seen acts in the city under the EDINBURGH FIRSTS strand, cutting edge sounds with the return of CROSS THE TRACKS, and an exciting presentation of 2014 EXCLUSIVES, including the Mandela Day Concert on opening night, and Kaiser Bill Invented Jazz, a special production to mark the centenary of The Great War, in which the link between European turmoil and the birth of Jazz is explored. The concert is part of a programme of SCOTTISH JAZZ EXPO projects, where the Festival supports top Scottish musicians and features a host of collaborations between Scottish and international performers.

Brian Fallon, Chair, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, said:

“This is the most ambitious programme to date for the Festival, building on our record sales and attendances last year. We are able to move forward again, thanks primarily to the continued commitment from the Scottish Government, through their Expo programme, and the continued support of the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland. The Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra is supported by Culture 2014 and we thank our business sponsors, too. Most of all, we are able to present such an exciting programme because of the commitment of our audiences to come out and listen to great music. Thanks to them, and we look forward to a successful year.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“Edinburgh’s Jazz & Blues Festival is the UK’s longest running jazz festival and continues to go from strength to strength. Once again the festival brings together talent from all over the world to celebrate the history of jazz, as well as new music coming from Scotland. This year’s programme is especially timely, celebrating as it does both the enduring links of the Commonwealth and the wider cultural impact of World War 1.

“I am pleased that once again the Scottish Government Edinburgh Festivals Expo funding will highlight the enormous talent of our musicians and performers. The varied festival programme will appeal to established fans and newcomers alike, and the increased exposure that our artists will gain through the Expo fund will, I am sure, do much for the profile of Scotland’s Jazz and Blues scene both at home and abroad.”


Ian Smith, Portfolio Manager for Music at Creative Scotland, said:

“The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival occupies a critical place on Scotland’s global events calendar. Creative Scotland is happy to support this musical feast with leading artists including the iconic Maggie Bell, world-renowned guitarist Martin Taylor and the wonderful tribute band to Jelly Roll Morton directed by Ken Mathieson, so long a revered writer, arranger and MD on the Scottish scene, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the band.  Bill Kyle’s Jazz Bar will again feature as one of the key venues for the event. Brian Kellock, Dave Batchelor and the Average White Band underline the eclectic mix that make this event so special. We wish them all well.”

The range of venues provide great settings to complement the acts. The sumptuous surroundings and wonderful acoustics of the Festival Theatre; the unconventional Grade-A listed backdrop of the Queen’s Hall; the special listening environment of the Festival Theatre Studio: spine-tingling sessions at 3 Bristo Place: feel-good Festival favourites at the Royal Overseas League and Heriots; and foot-stomping parties in the Mash House. The Jazz Bar, in its atmospheric basement setting, hosts both gigs and our famous JAM SESSIONS, and back in George Square especially for the Jazz & Blues Festival, visitors can party under the magic mirrors of the Palazzo Spiegeltent.

The 17th century church-turned hip jazz club, the Tron Kirk in the heart of the Old Town will once again be the setting for our popular FESTIVAL CLUB, featuring six performances throughout the day for the duration of the Festival. And the Napier University Jazz Summer School is again open to participants of all ages and playing ability. A week-long course will culminate in a performance during the Festival, where audiences can hear these jazz stars in the making.


The annual FREE EVENTS are also back to launch Edinburgh’s Festival season with a storm of colour. The Mardi Gras on Saturday 19th July from 1-4pm, brings non-stop entertainment and a party atmosphere to the Grassmarket, with support from the Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District. The line-up includes Hamish McGregor Quintet, Jensen Interceptors, Lyndon Anderson, Freddie King, Gramophone Jass Band and Mardi Gras stalwarts the Criterion Brass Band.

And in its third year, the Edinburgh Festival Carnival on Sunday 20 July from 2-4.30pm is back to fill Princes Street and the Gardens with costumes, music and dance – with plenty new tricks up its sequined and feathered sleeves! The Carnival is supported by Edinburgh City Council, and details of the full programme will be released at the end of June. There are several opportunities for members of the public to be a part of the Carnival, either taking part in the parade or volunteering with the team – please see the website for details.

A fresh website at www.edinburghjazzfestival.com welcomes visitors with an eye-catching design, the latest news and an easy-to-use ‘MyFestival’ function, which allows users to customize their programme. Festival-goers are encouraged to join in with the latest conversations through Twitter  by using the hashtag #edjazzfest) or on Facebook.


Ticket information

Tickets are available:

  • Online at www.edinburghjazzfestival.com
  • By phone on 0131 473 2000. Tickets also available for relevant concerts from The Queen’s Hall (0131 668 2019) and Festival Theatre (0131 529 6000).
  • In person from The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE.

During the Festival, on-the-day tickets are sold until 4pm, then are available from 30 minutes before the performance time at the relevant venue.

Details of booking fees are available at the website here.

Four concerts went on sale early on 15th April and tickets are selling fast: king of boogie-woogie, swing and r’n’b Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra (featuring special guest star Melanie C), legendary singer-songwriter Van Morrison, rock ‘n’ roll icon Bill Wyman with the fabulous Rhythm Kings, and the Mandela Day Concert featuring three popular South African acts. We can announce that Maggie Bell, Scotland’s Queen of the Blues, will open the show for Bill Wyman at the Festival Theatre with her four-piece band – an evening not to be missed!

The SCOTTISH JAZZ EXPO features several exciting collaborations this year. They include the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra, which is part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme and is directed by James Morrison, paying homage to Oscar Peterson, the Canadian jazz pianist described by Duke Ellington as the ‘Maharaja of the keyboard’ with We Love Oscar! On this special night, two former members of Oscar’s Trio will also take to the stage with Edinburgh’s Brian Kellock. A special concert, marking the 10th anniversary of the great Scottish jazz institution, the Ken Mathieson Classic Jazz Orchestra play Jelly Roll Morton, with Evan Christopher, Duke Heitger and Don Vappie. Mathieson presents rarely heard, unpublished Big Band scores, made available from the archives of The Historic New Orleans Collection at the University of New Orleans. And Martin Taylor Great Guitars with Christian Escoude and Ulf Wakenius brings these jazz guitar giants together for solo, duo and trio mind-blowing performances.

Our EDINBURGH FIRSTS strand offers Festival audiences first time opportunities to hear some great jazz and blues names. Fusion jazz fans will be jostling for tickets to see the Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band, featuring Dennis Chambers and Tom Kennedy. Stern (guitar) and Evans (sax) played together in the Miles Davis 1980s band, and the passion and dynamism that were the hallmarks of that group will be there for all to see in the Queen’s Hall. Bringing rockabilly and rocking soul to the Spiegeltent, Nikki Hill makes her Festival debut. A charismatic performer of American roots music, her gritty and raw voice with Stax soul dynamics ranges from smooth and dreamy to floor-buckling intensity. Another captivating singer, MOBO-nominated Zara McFarlane is making waves across Europe with a soulful jazz sound akin to Nina Simone and Roberta Flack.

‘Face of the Festival’ appearing on the cover of our brochures and posters this year, Christian Scott performs with his Quintet. Hip, focused and charismatic, Scott is every bit the iconic jazz trumpeter. And Blues guitarist, Otis Taylor, brings his unique electric version of Delta-inspired country-blues to enthrall the Queen’s Hall.

After a successful year last year, our CROSS THE TRACKS strand is back, presenting edgy, contemporary acts that highlight the heritage of jazz and blues on the underground music scene. With influences from hip-hop and electronica to soul and funk, expect raw musicality without boundaries!

New Orleans heavy duty Hot 8 Brass Band made a lasting impression at their sell-out gig last year. Mixing the traditional brass band sound with soul, jazz and funk, their shows are about good vibes and pulsing dancefloors! Fat Suit, a 15-piece instrumental collective, delivers a mighty fusion of jazz, rock and folk. Often compared to American fusion group Snarky Puppy, the line up features guitars, violins, keyboards horns, bass, drums and percussion. Playing a mix of original material and interpretations of tracks by the likes of Kanye West, Canadian hip hop/jazz trio Badbadnotgood unleash their murky bass lines, pounding exuberant drums and chilling cymbals on the city; and legendary Edinburgh club, Four Corners play a club get-down of deep funk to afro beats.

For jazz traditionalists, we have a special performance from Batchelors of Jazz. Dave Batchelor brings together New Orleans trumpeter, Duke Heitger, and a collection of Scotland’s finest musicians to play classic dixieland jazz with real verve and rhythmic punch. An international dream team of classic jazz superstars, the International Hot Jazz Quartet play jazz from the 1920s and 30s, with a verve that transports you to feel the excitement of the time. Europe’s finest exponent of swing jazz on the clarinet, Engelbert Wrobel plays Benny Goodman in a fitting salute to the ‘King of Swing’. And the most celebrated gypsy guitarist of the last 30 years, Fapy Lafertin brings a Trio to ignite the Spiegeltent with his distinctive gypsy swing sound.

Audiences can sit back and soak up a session of the highest quality with Australian star – exceptional trumpeter, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, and the frontman of Australian Top Gear! – James Morrison and his Quartet. One of the world’s greatest jazz pianists, Enrico Pieranunzi plays Bach, Handel, Schumann, Debussy with his trademark passion and sensitivity as he merges classical music with jazz improvisation. And master trio, The Bad Plus, bring their defining sound – quirky and offbeat, yet fully absorbed in the jazz tradition – back for a much-anticipated performance at the Festival.

A whole host of swinging acts are coming to get the party started! Inspired by Parisian jazz of the 1930s and 40s and Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club de Paris, Havana Swing combine lightning solos and subtle harmonies. Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra bring an eclectic and upbeat mix of Western swing, gypsy jazz, blues, cajun, and country. Favourites at Festivals and clubs over Europe, Hannah Williams & the Tastemakers present deep soul with a raw edge in an undoubtedly blistering live show. If you want to feel like you’re walking in to a 1920s or 1930s dance hall, check out the authentic swing of Pasadena Roof Orchestra, and the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, a 19-piece band in period costume with vintage instruments that play hot jazz and sweet dance music with pinpoint precision and pizzazz.

For something a little different, audiences can enjoy Dinner Jazz at Le Monde, a wonderful evening of dinner and entertainment at Dirty Martini, with music by three of the original members of the Average White Band. The Saturday and Sunday Blues Afternoons are also back at the Spiegeltent, offering a rich list of blues performances set against a chilled-out backdrop.

PHOTOS Simon Williams