The 2019 Festival included 150 concerts, 2 major free events, a conference and two Summer Schools.
Nurturing Exciting Talent
Across all styles, we presented those musicians that we think are amongst the most exciting playing today. Creative inspiration can come at every point in a musician’s life, and our programme offered a platform that inspires musicians to create something special for audiences to enjoy. In 2019, we can point to John Bruce, veteran of the Edinburgh blues scene, created a very special band for the Festival; to Irini Arabatzi, the brilliant young vocalist, to be heard in new projects by Mark Hendry and the Scottish Swing Orchestra, and with her own co-led band with Stephen Henderson; to Nicole Smit, the classiest female blues singer around, spot-lit for the first time in the Festival; to the superb alto saxophonist, Stewart Forbes, making waves in his late career in France, and presenting his new Scottish/French ensemble for the first time.
This spirit of adventure; on-the-spot creativity; and deep love and enthusiasm for the music; was what inspired the Festival’s founder, Mike Hart, 42 years ago, and we marked his passing with an opening concert that brought together the musicians, the music, and hopefully, the atmosphere of the early EJBF years that Mike so much enjoyed. We saluted his contribution to Edinburgh’s musical life, and we dedicated our 2019 programme to him.
Our International Ambition
From the start, EJBF’s vision has been international. The 2019 Festival welcomed musicians from all over the world, including saxophonist Melissa Aldana from Chile, Gonzalo Bergara from Argentina, Ben Wilcock from New Zealand; Meschiya Lake, Duchess, Davina And The Vagabonds, Zac Harmon, Shake Em Up, Melvin Taylor, Kyle Eastwood, Donny McCaslin, New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, Popa Chubby, Stacy Mitchhart, Jamison Ross, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and many more from the USA; Joachim Caffonnette, Toine Thys and ESINAM from Belgium; Jan Garbarek, Harald Lassen and General Post Officefrom Norway; Rumba de Bodas, Bandakadabra, Enzo Favata and Fabio Giacchino from Italy; Rita Payes and The Cherry Boppers from Spain; Jacob Karlzon from Sweden; and Moses Boyd, Chris Barber, Soweto Kinch, Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Ian Siegal, Ibibio Sound Machine and Sons of Kemet from England.
Scottish musicians were presented in collaborative projects with musicians from Hungary (Alan Benzie), France (Stewart Forbes), Norway (Tom Gibbs), The Netherlands (Laura MacDonald), The USA (Ali Affleck), Italy (Liam Shortall), Spain (Brian Kellock) and Belgium (Michael Butcher).
We have a strategic partnership with Oslo Jazz Festival and we continued our links to Brussels with funding from Wallonie-Bruxelles International and we hosted a visit of Italian promoters, funded by the British Council are developing a programme for UK-IT 2020 with our Italian connections.
Nurturing Scottish Talent
At the core of the Festival is the extraordinary wealth of Scottish talent whoe the current scene such an exciting one. Some of the best and freshest music is coming from our own country in 2019. The new stars of our scene were all represented: Graham Costello’s STRATA (in a special Expanded version); Fergus McCreadie’s Trio; AKU; Matt Carmichael; Georgia Cecile, with her new group featuring Konrad Wiszniewski; Nicole Smit; Cat Loud; Jed Potts; Katie Whittaker; Mezcla; Mark Hendry, with a new band; Liam Shortall’s Corto Alto; Tom Stephenson; Bernadette Kellerman; and Harry Weir’s brilliant new Orion All Stars.
The 2019 Festival Featured
930 professional musicians
1050 amateur performers
68,200 people attended the Festival (over 12,000 viewed our live streamed concerts)
In 2019 EJBF started a partnership with St Bride's Centre, launching three music schools (Edinburgh Jazz School, Edinburgh Blues Academy and the Gorgie Dalry Jam), as well as presenting Thill (Jazz from Brussels) and the inaugural Scottish Blues Weekend and multi-cultural concerts: Afro Live and Chinese Lanterns. During the lead-up to the Edinburgh Festival Carnival, 800 people all over Edinburgh participated in Carnival arts and in the Autumn EJBF presented Gallus: A Scottish Jazz Weekend. Overall over 7,500 people have attended EJBF"s PLACE funded activity to date.