New Town to host jazz festival in Spiegeltent

Davina and The Vagabonds in St Andrew Square. Picture: Toby Williams
Davina and The Vagabonds in St Andrew Square. Picture: Toby Williams
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An ANNUAL celebration of all things jazz will be staged in the New Town for the first time this summer.

Performers at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival will take to the stage in St Andrew Square, which is already home to major events throughout the summer and winter months.

The world-famous Spiegel-tent will arrive at the square a fortnight before the main festival season kicks off in August.

It will play host to a series of “high-energy” gigs – including a vintage jazz party, gospel music and Mexican jazz-rock.

Davina and the Vagabonds, who recently performed on the Jools Holland show, are also on the line-up, and helped launch the programme at St Andrew Square yesterday.

This year also marks the first time that Summerhall, in the former Dick Vet building in Newington, will be used.

The venue will showcase contemporary jazz acts influenced by music styles including soul and hip-hop as part of the Cross the Tracks programme.

Other locations, including the Festival Theatre, Queen’s Hall and Jazz Bar, will continue to be used for 150 concerts from July 17-26.

Festival chairman Brian Fallon said the event programme has “never been stronger”.

He said: “Last year we had record attendances, record sales, and a feast of high-quality music. 2015 looks set to be another record-breaker, and we look forward to welcoming old and new friends.

“We have a great line-up with something for everyone and we are looking forward to seeing you over the ten days of the festival.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, which manages the square, welcomed the plans to host some events in St Andrew Square.

He said: “The jazz festival is an appendant to the main festival in the summer. It means there will be an extra couple of weeks of the Spiegeltent than last year, an extended time frame. We thought it was a great idea to bring jazz festival events here.”

Forty artists – ranging from Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, to new US blues musicians Brandon Santini and Ben Rice – were revealed in yesterday’s programme launch, and the full line-up will be announced on April 30, with tickets going on sale on May 6.

Free events will also help launch Edinburgh’s festival season, with the Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket on July 18, and the Edinburgh Festival Carnival in Princes Street on July 19.

A week-long course at Napier University Jazz Summer School will be open to participants of all ages and playing ability, resulting in a performance during the jazz festival.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The expansion into the New Town shows the ambition of the festival to engage with even more local people.”