Jazz Festival Launched
When 8000 revellers gather in Edinburgh's Old Town for the annual Mardi Gras, they will be the visible expression of one of the city's most vigorous festivals. A celebration of Scottish and international musical talent, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival gets the capital swinging with ten days of world-class performances, ranging from exciting names from Poland and Italy to veteran hit-makers such as the Manhattan Transfer and the Average White Band.
The Mardi Gras happens on the opening Saturday, when the Grassmarket becomes a mini-New Orleans for the afternoon. The free event has a tremendous party atmosphere helped along by the up-beat sounds of the Stooges from New Orleans, the Savannah Jazz Band, Al's Dixie Palz and the Criterion Parade Band. Look out too for singers Iain Hunter and Freddie King, blues harmonica wizard Dana Dixon and the lazy acoustic blues of Sleepy Eyes Nelson.
This year, the festival has added to its roster of venues the large-scale Edinburgh Festival Theatre, where you'll be able to see Maggie Bell & Blues 'n' Trouble, Dr John & The Lower 911 and the Kyle Eastwood Band plus Martin Taylor. That's just one of more than a dozen venues across town, showcasing large and small-scale acts, as well as presenting talks about the art form.
A special highlight is the Scottish Jazz Expo, a series of international collaborations funded by the Scottish Government. This year's line-up includes the World Jazz Orchestra in which musicians from every continent play the music of Duke Ellington under the direction of ace Scottish saxophonist Joe Temperley.
All this is just the tip of a cool jazz iceberg and, with anything up to a dozen gigs to choose from every day, you'll be spoilt for choice.
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, 20–29 July, www.edinburghjazzfestival.com