Van Morrison set for Edinburgh Jazz Festival

Van Morrison is just one big name set to appear. Picture: contributed

Van Morrison is just one big name set to appear. Picture: contributed

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VAN Morrison, Jools Holland and former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman are among the acts due to headline at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.

More than 60,000 people are expected to flock to the Capital to see 120 acts play 145 concerts over the course of ten days, and the festival will also celebrate the life of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Soul legend Van Morrison last performed in Edinburgh in 2012, when he entranced fans with a one-off gig at the 
Playhouse. The Northern Irish singer-songwriter’s live performances regularly receive rave reviews and he is often cited as one of the greatest musical artists in the world.

This year’s strong line-up has been praised by renowned figures in the music industry.

Bruce Findlay, former manager of Simple Minds and radio broadcaster, said: “They are all very impressive names. I mean, Van Morrison – and Jools for that matter – they cross boundaries.

“I think it is excellent for the festival to be attracting names like this, given that really Edinburgh plays second fiddle to Glasgow so often in terms of music acts, and yet we have a very strong music scene in Edinburgh – in folk, pop, on all fronts.

“I haven’t seen the full line-up, so it’s not even a reservation – but my only thing is I hope local Scottish acts get a prominent place too.”

The first day of the festival will coincide with Mandela Day and will feature three of South Africa’s biggest acts. Opening act Abdullah Ibrahim made South Africa’s first jazz record and played at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994, while follow-up group Freshlyground were behind the nation’s official World Cup song in 2010.

Veteran performers the Mahotella Queens, who played at the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations in 2012 and have been South Africa’s most popular singing group for 50 years, will close the evening.

“I think having South African acts to coincide with Mandela Day is a great theme, and things like that would attract me to the festival just as much as names like Van Morrison and Jools,” said Mr Findlay.

Fiona Alexander, one of the producers of the Jazz and Blues Festival, said: “Van Morrison is a huge name to get. He is one of the biggest names we’ve ever had. We’re expecting Van Morrison and Jools Holland to be sell-out shows at the Festival Theatre.

“And as well as the headline acts, we have assembled a line-up of three absolutely incredible names from South Africa.

“We are very excited about what we have announced so far, but there are plenty more acts to reveal.”

International jazz supergroup the Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band are also due to perform, along with the return of festival favourite Chris Barber and popular free events the Mardi Gras and Edinburgh Festival Carnival.

The full line-up will be announced in May.