A significant new addition to the Fringe’s music venues – a veritable mini-fest within the fest – arrives next week in the shape of the British Vocal Jazz Festival at the stylish Le Monde Hotel in George Street (Venue 47), providing a showcase for the cream of British jazz singers as well as a late-night jazz cabaret-style club, writes Jim Gilchrist.
Launching on 5 and 6 August with Scotland’s own Carol Kidd accompanied by pianist Brian Kellock in a Cole Porter programme, the 14-night run includes such major names as Gwyneth Herbert and Clare Teal, both of whom launch new albums at the festival, and Ian Shaw with trumpeter Guy Barker, while Claire Martin teams up with Joe Stilgoe to sing from the great American songbook.
Other “themed” nights include Niki King and her band performing Duke Ellington, Shaw singing Joni Mitchell, Christine Tobin delivering Leonard Cohen and Kate Dimbleby covering the songs of Dory Previn.
The festival closes with its organiser, Edinburgh-based singer and jazz promoter Todd Gordon, joining with Jacqui Dankworth for “The Frank and Ella Show”, paying tribute to Sinatra and Fitzgerald, both of whom were major influences on Gordon’s singing career.
Gordon, who is running the festival with media sponsorship from Jazz FM, explains that while there is quite a spread of jazz across the Fringe, he felt there could be more of an emphasis on singing.
“Obviously my passion is for vocal jazz and I realised that a lot of the best British vocal jazz talent was seldom in Scotland. That was the kernel of the idea, then we realised that there is such a wealth of British vocal jazz talent, it would be great to have it under one roof and we thought a festival within the Fringe would be just the right setting for it.”
Le Monde has hosted music before, most notably Curtis Stigers and Ray Wilson, and Gordon hopes that the vocal jazz festival will become an annual event.
As well as the headline concerts, he will be joined in late-night “After Hours” sessions by such leading Scots instrumentalists as Colin Steele, Ryan Quigley and Konrad Wiszniewski, while he expects visiting Fringe performers with gigs elsewhere to drop by.
He sees the event’s emphasis on vocal jazz and the ambience of the boutique hotel as complementing, rather competing with, other Fringe music venues.
“Rather than having to queue up a stair and be ushered in at the last minute, it’s a more relaxed pace.”
MORE INFO: The British Vocal Jazz Festival runs from 5-26 August, www.britishvocaljazzfestival.com
Originally published in The Scotsman