Arts Council funding brings young blood to Swanage Jazz Festival

An outstanding lineup of musical talent is in store for Swanage in Dorset as more than 80 events are lined up to take part in the town’s 2024 Jazz Festival.

Fifty bands will play ticketed gigs in four major venues between Friday 12th July and Sunday 14th July 2024, but another 30-plus events are to take part in a free fringe festival to bring Swanage alive with music following a boost from national funds.


Emma Rawicz, who has been featured in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition, brings her jazz orchestra to The Mowlem

Attracting a new, younger audience

Swanage Jazz Festival 2024 managed to secure Arts Council funding of more than £16,000 to attract a new and younger audience to the event and to add a second main marquee on Sandpit Field for a new generation of jazz groups to play live.

As a result, jazz of all genres from swing and bebop to progressive and contemporary will be played over the weekend, and a party atmosphere will be generated in Sandpit field on Friday evening to energise the festival.

And to broaden the appeal of the festival, as jazz has an unfair reputation as being the preserve of men with beards, special events like jazz yoga and interactive music for five to ten year-olds will be trialled for the first time.

The organisers say that more than ever before, the festival will showcase a real mix of well established names and new rising talents, as well as a wider range of genres as it aims to appeal to a younger demographic.

As well as full programmes at The Mowlem, Sandpit Field’s two marquees and The Centre in Chapel Lane, free fringe festival bands will be playing in Sandpit Field and in the Mowlem Showbar, and also at the Conservative Club, the Black Swan, the Red Lion, the Bandstand and the Grand Hotel.

azz festival at Sandpit field
Swanage Jazz Festival

This year, Sandpit Field will feature two music marquees, many more traders, yoga jazz and a party atmosphere


Jivin’ Miss Daisy, a band specialising in vintage jazz and swing will play at the second marquee on Sandpit Field on Friday night

Creating a jazz village

Chair of Swanage Jazz Festival Paul Kelly said:

“We are delighted that Arts Council England backed the festival. Our bid was built on attracting a new and younger audience through schools initiatives and adding a second marquee on Sandpit Field for a new generation of jazz groups, to add a vibrant extra layer to this much-loved festival.

“We are looking forward to welcoming some of the best jazz musicians in the country to Swanage and a really great audience to listen to it all – now we are just hoping for good weather!

“We are creating a jazz village up on Sandpit Field with far more traders than last year, three marquees rather than just the one and free events for the general public rather than just paid-for performances for the ticketed audience.

“There is lots of live music you can listen to for free, two fingers and toes sessions of interactive music for youngsters on Saturday afternoon, and jazz yoga on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, which you do need to book, but which will be free.

“There is also a fantastic ticketed programme, with single concert tickets available for those who haven’t booked a weekend ticket and just want to come and catch one band – they are £20 each, but that’s pretty good value in relation to what you pay for most venues.”


Saxophonist Sarah Bolter will play a Sax in the City concert as part of the free fringe festival in the Red Lion pub, Swanage


The Wonder of Stevie, a tribute to Stevie Wonder, is performed by Noel McCalla and Derek Nash

Specialising in vintage jazz and swing

The festival gets under way at 4 pm on Friday 12th July 2024 at The Mowlem with the Art Themen Organ Quintet, followed by Thokozile – jazz with an African influence

Closing Friday evening on the main stage are Ian Shaw and Tony Kofi with a tribute to Billy Strayhorn, who wrote most of the music for Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

Meanwhile, the party atmosphere kicks off in Sandpit Field with The Sound of Blue Note, Horns Upfront and The Wonder of Stevie, a tribute to Stevie Wonder By Derek Nash and Noel McCalla, giving the great man’s best hits a jazzy makeover.

For those wanting more classic jazz, the headline act in the second marquee is Jivin’ Miss Daisy, a hugely popular band specialising in vintage jazz and swing.

And as usual, the first full day of jazz is launched with the festival parade along the seafront with a New Orleans atmosphere as brightly dressed crowds follow energetic bands along Shore Road.


Martin Litton’s Red Hot Peppers will play at The Centre in Chapel Lane on Saturday 13th July


A Sunday afternoon treat on Sandpit Field, as Marianne Windham brings her Jazz Samba Project to the main marquee

“Should get people jumping up and down”

Paul Kelly said:

“On Saturday night we have the Gary Crosby sextet paying tribute to the great American bass player Charlie Mingus and we have the Emma Rawicz Jazz Orchestra.

“Emma Rawicz is a 20-something year-old tenor sax player and soprano sax player who is touring all over the country and all over Europe, she’s a rising star of the jazz world and has put together a 20 piece jazz orchestra to perform her own compositions, which is more than a bit special.

“If people like New Orleans Jazz we have Martin Litton’s Red Hot Peppers on Saturday night in the Centre, which is in the style of Jelly Roll Morton and should get people jumping up and down.

“On Sunday, headlining Sandpit Field, we have the Liane Carroll trio – she is a much loved, fabulous singer and pianist who hasn’t been at Swanage in 10 years, so it is great to have her back and we are really looking forward to that.”


Zoe Rahman’s Colour of Sound Octet is the Sunday night headliner at The Mowlem


Bristol band Snazzback, an abstract improv band, will headline Sandpit Field’s second marquee on Saturday

Rich vocals and classic repertoire

Closing out the festival at The Mowlem on Sunday night is Zoe Rahman’s Colour of Sound Octet, a much more contemporary outfit playing original compositions.

Zoe Rahman is a top level jazz pianist and is bringing an eight piece band full of jazz talent, including the alto jazz talent Camilla George who generally headlines in her own right.

And closing out Sunday night at the Centre with a New Orleans programme of music is the Pete Allen Jazz Band.

One further event is being held in conjunction with the festival, but with tickets being sold separately, when the Dylan Ross Jazz Collective plays at the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club at 7.30 pm on Friday 12th July.

Swanage born and bred Dylan Ross wowed the festival audience in 2023 with a fine Sunday morning set in the Sandpit Field marquee and his rich vocals and classic great American songbook repertoire will bring a touch of Sinatra and Tony Bennett to the golf club venue this year.


Swanage musician Dylan Ross will take his Jazz Collective to the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club on Friday 12th July


Swanage jazz duo Chantoozy will play in the free fringe festival at the Grand Hotel

The sound of jazz to come

Paul Kelly added:

“We also have lots of other names, but we are especially proud to be featuring young talent, with an 11-band programme of what we call the sound of jazz to come – newer sounds and styles of jazz, mostly in marquee two on Sandpit Field.

“But we will also welcome back some of the well established names like Norma Winstone, a fantastic British jazz singer for the 1970s, and Art Themen and Henry Lowther, guys who were developing jazz back in the 60s and 70s and are still going strong today.

“What I always say is that if you don’t like a band in one location we are aiming to put on something complementary in one of the other venues that we think you will enjoy.

“We have 50 bands, 230-odd musicians and one stroller ticket and not many people can make that sort of offer.”

Tickets are being sold from two box offices, at The Mowlem and at Sandpit Field. The weekend stroller ticket is £150, giving access to any and as many festival events as people can manage, while there are also day stroller tickets at £46 for Friday and £88 for Saturday or Sunday.

Some of the 30 free to attend gigs include Dorset Youth Orchestra and Swanage Big Band at the Bandstand, the Chantoozy Duo at the Grand Hotel and nationally acclaimed saxophonist Sarah Bolter, who has recently been working on Abba and David Bowie experiences, at the Red Lion.


Liane Carroll and friends will close the feast of weekend music in the main Sandpit Field marquee


Rising young local musicians The JazzKnots play jazz inspired funk and soul on Sandpit Field on Saturday morning

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