Looking back at the city jazz festival

Jazz musician Acker Bilk plays the clarinet, with Currie Primary School children on recorders, in Princes Street Gardens in June 1987. Picture: TSPL
Jazz musician Acker Bilk plays the clarinet, with Currie Primary School children on recorders, in Princes Street Gardens in June 1987. Picture: TSPL
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MUSIC lovers in the Capital will be getting back into the swing of things this weekend for the start of this year’s Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival.

This year’s impressive line-up is ­expected to see 60,000 fans flock to the ten-day event, with more than 140 concerts being held across 13 venues, and big-name stars such as Van ­Morrison, Jools Holland and Bill Wyman all headlining.

Ladies dressed as jazz-age flappers make their way to Leith Links for the Leith Pageant in June 1992. Picture: TSPL

Ladies dressed as jazz-age flappers make their way to Leith Links for the Leith Pageant in June 1992. Picture: TSPL

The programme proves that the UK’s longest running jazz festival continues to go from strength to strength, and it has long been a popular part of the city’s cultural scene.

Jazz legend Acker Bilk delighted youngsters at Currie Primary School when he joined them in Princes Street Gardens, with the youngsters on recorders and Acker on his famous clarinet. The festival has always celebrated the traditions and style of jazz and blues, and in 1992 ladies were dressing up as jazz-age flappers as they made their way to Leith Links for the Leith Pageant.

Hosting such an array of musical talent has had a knock-on effect for city students, and in 1993 saxophonist Tommy Smith took time out from performing to help music students at the Lothian Jazz School.

Of course the event hasn’t always been quite as well ­organised as it is today, ­although the free form ideals of jazz were certainly in ­keeping with Danny Dolant and his jazz band playing in the window of the Woodhouses furniture store in Princes Street back in 1959.

There were plenty of big crowds for the concerts even then however, and in 1958 the Waverley Market was packed out as fans came to listen to the Clyde Valley Stompers.