Aberdeen Jazz Festival has officially kicked off today (March 17). So, The P&J entertainment team caught up with Coralie Usmani, CEO of Jazz Scotland, to find out more about the 10-day music extravaganza.
Taking place in various venues in the Granite City, Aberdeen Jazz Festival is the largest of the festivals that Jazz Scotland runs. And for the first time, the festival’s CEO is based in Aberdeen.
“It’s really nice for me to be close to what’s happening and close to the planning,” said Coralie who is very excited about this year’s programme.
“It feels really really special that we’re putting on such a big festival with such a short leading time.
“It’s a packed programme and it’s got some new things in there.”
Specially commissioned performance at the Bon Accord Baths
One of the highlights of the festival is a specially commissioned performance at the Bon Accord Baths, which has already sold out.
Coralie said: “We’ve had heaps of interest in the show at the Bon Accord Baths – I’ve been there and it sounds absolutely amazing. It’s actually very very immersive – the sound really gets to you.
“And also, the Cowdray Hall is a nice hub for arts and performances that hasn’t been used much lately so it feels like a nice chance to bring that venue to life as well.”
Coralie also thinks some of the late-night gigs are going to be “really pumping”.
She said: “We’ve got a nine-piece band called Yong Pilgrims coming to Aberdeen.
“We’re really capitalising on them coming – they’re having a huge party on Friday night (March 25) but they’re actually going to stick around for the weekend.
“They’re also doing a workshop for young people at Aberdeen University and they’re also writing arrangements for another event and one of their members is also commissioned to do one of the Soundbath performances (at the Bon Accord Baths).”
Workshops, films and music performances
Another highlight is Rhapsody in Blue at the Queens Cross Church.
Coralie said: “They’ll play with a string orchestra – and most of the orchestra players are from Aberdeen. It’s a good chance for local players to play such a headline concert.”
This year, most musicians are from Scotland, with many of them hailing from the north-east.
“There are some international performers though – Hooten Hallers are from Missouri and Shapes Of Time Trio is from the Netherlands,” said Coralie.
Don’t miss Jazz The Day
The Jazz Scotland CEO would also like to highlight the upcoming Jazz The Day event on Saturday March 26.
She said: “It’s a full day of jazz. It’s family-friendly and there’s also a bit of participation involved.
“Ali Affleck is going to turn The Blue Lamp into a zone for people to come in and be part of the action, which is also quite new for the festival.
“There’s a chance to sing with the band and dance – we have the Aberdeen University Swing Dance Society coming. If anybody is interested in participating, they can get in touch and let me know.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in participating in Jazz The Day.
Coralie added: “Three venues – Aberdeen Arts Centre, The Lemon Tree and The Blue Lamp – will host the events and they are within walking distance of each other. There’s something different at each venue – it really has that festival feeling – there is so much on, you’ll have to look at the programme and really choose what you want to go to.”
Online Aberdeen Jazz Festival offering
While the events won’t be streamed online in full during the festival, those who cannot attend Aberdeen Jazz Festival in person will be able to watch around eight to ten performances online a week after the festival.
Coralie said: “We have a virtual festival pass. It was very popular during the previous festivals. We heard a lot of feedback from people saying that it improves the festival’s accessibility as they can go to more than one concert.”
You can find out more about Aberdeen Jazz Festival below: