Aberdeen Jazz Festival: This City is Going to Make Some Noise!

Aberdeen Jazz Festival: This City is Going to Make Some Noise!

Various venues, Aberdeen City: 14 - 24 March 2024

Aberdeen Jazz Festival returns for 2024, bursting with exciting and dynamic acts. Building on the huge success of previous years, and with support of The National Lottery through Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council, the festival promises 10 days packed with engaging and energetic live events across the city. 

True to this year’s festival slogan ‘This City is Going to Make Some Noise’, the programme is set to rouse the city from its winter slumber and fill a host of venues with decidedly diverse sounds. This year’s venues include the well-loved settings of The Blue Lamp, Lemon Tree, Spin, Cowdray Hall and Queen’s Cross Church, plus the addition of the Tunnels for some late night club vibes, and the sophisticated surroundings of the Sandman Signature Hotel and The Advocates Library. 

The huge variety of musical styles on offer will range from blues to big bands; swing to soul; vintage vocals to cutting-edge composition. Highlights include a solo performance by internationally acclaimed guitarist Martin Taylor. Described by the legendary Pat Metheny as ‘one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument’, Taylor has had a remarkable musical career spanning five decades, with performances across the globe and has won a record-breaking 14 British Jazz Awards. His show at the Lemon Tree promises to be an unmissable opportunity for guitar enthusiasts to experience this jazz giant up close!

Another of the festival’s highlights will be the ‘Doric Suite’ performed by the Aberdeen Jazz Festival Orchestra - a specially formed ensemble in which classic big band instrumentation meets the skirl of traditional fiddles. Under the guidance of the inspirational Richard Michael, the ensemble will perform his ‘Doric Suite,’ inspired by the countryside around Inverurie. The performance will bring together numerous community music groups from across the city, including Jazz at the Blue Lamp Community Jazz Big Band plus players from SC&T, Aberdeen Music Service and Aberdeen Jazz Festival Youth Ensemble alongside The Struttin’ Futrets - the North East’s leading trad jazz band. The festival is also issuing an exciting open call for fiddle players of at least Grade 4 standard to take part.

Community involvement is a strong feature in the work of the festival, not only in this year’s public programme, but also behind the scenes. Recently appointed Community Engagement Worker and well-known local jazz singer Melodie Fraser has been hard at work getting to know different communities across the city to understand their musical lives as well as expanding opportunities for participation. Initiatives including a concert in Middlefield Community Hub and work in Sheltered Housing complexes allow new groups to experience and enjoy jazz in its many forms.

Several innovative festival features established in recent years are also set to return. These will include the immensely popular Soundbath performances in the atmospheric Bon Accord Baths and the ‘musical tapas’ of Jazz the Day - this year expanding to fill different venues in the city centre and takeover Great Western Community Centre in the west end. 

A strongly international flavour is a feature this year, both in regards to the festival’s performers and their influences. From Stockholm-based pianist Britta Virves, to the Laird-Jarvie Hong Payne Trio fresh from Amsterdam, several international acts will appear for the very first time in Aberdeen.

Vocalists are well represented in the programme with Ali Affleck’s Spicy Lil’ Devils, New York-based singer songwriter Michelle Willis and Paisley powerhouse kitti all set to serenade the city.

Closer to home, an abundance of top Scottish talent will be showcased with three exciting new bands to be unveiled by Colin Steele, Graeme Stephen and Alex Hitchcock respectively. Renowned saxophonist Tommy Smith also returns to Aberdeen along with pianist and former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Peter Johnstone. 

The Aberdeen Jazz Festival is funded by Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council

Clare Hewitt, Music Officer at Creative Scotland commented:

“Aberdeen Jazz Festival is an event that takes pride in its city, with an amazing programme that creates spaces where audiences and performers can connect through sound. Whether it’s listening to notes floating through the Bon Accord Baths, feeling the heartbeat of the music in The Blue Lamp, or making the best kind of noise with the Doric Suite Big Band, this festival captures the distinctive flavour of jazz in the north-east.”

Cllr Greig, ACC Culture Spokesperson commented:

“Aberdeen City Council are pleased to once again support Aberdeen Jazz Festival as it delivers another exciting programme across a range of city venues. We’re particularly pleased to see the growing community programme delivering new opportunities for participation in Sheltered Housing and across our communities, showing the importance of culture to wellbeing in Aberdeen. The Jazz Festival is an important part of our city’s vibrant festival and events calendar and I’m sure it’ll be a huge success once more.”

View the programme!