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Ten must-see events at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2019

With around 140 gigs taking place from 12 - 21 July, choosing just ten events from this year's Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival programme was never going to be an easy feat.

The festival famously plays host to the finest jazz and blues talent from all over the world, with new and emerging talent filling a wide range of creative and engaging venues, from Spiegeltents and jazz bars to large-scale theatres.

And so, our work is cut out for us. We knuckled down though, and *somehow* we've picked some must-sees.

1. STRATA Expanded

A hand-picked string quartet joins STRATA - the all-star band made up of Fergus McCreadie, Joe Williamson, Liam Shortall, Harry Weir and Mark Hendry. Expect a night of brand new music as well as exciting arrangements of much-loved material. This special one-off concert is presented by Graham Costello.

Tickets: Saturday 20 July, 7pm, Teviot Row, £14.

2. Jan Garbarek Group ft Trilok Gurtu

Jan Garbarek is known as one of the greatest European jazz musicians of all time. The Norwegian musician has had a wildly diverse and successful career, ensuring that his sax playing is world-renowned. He appears here with Rainer Brüninghaus (piano, keys), Yuri Daniel (bass), Trilok Gurtu (percussion).

Tickets: Saturday 13 July, 7.30pm, Festival Theatre, £27 - £38.50.

3. John Bruce Band ft Marcus Bonfanti

He's been a star of the Edinburgh blues scene for 40 years, having played lead guitar with Blues n’Trouble, and featuring in Safehouse and The Jensen Interceptors. Now, John Bruce is leading a double guitar concept, pitching himself against guitar star, Marcus Bonfanti.

Tickets: Monday 15 July, 8.30pm, George Square Spiegeltent, £15.

4. Nicole Smit

She's been part of Blueswater, Cow Cow Boogie, Queens of the Blues, and now Nicole Smit has a solo EJBF show that rightly puts the spotlight on her. A blues singer, she takes her inspiration from the blues women of the past, from Big Mama Thornton to Sugar Pie Desanto.

Tickets: Friday 19 July, 7.30pm, Teviot Row, £11.

5. Shake Em Up Jazz Band / Meschiya Lake

How does a night of New Orleans jazz sound? The simply brilliant all-female trad band, Shake Em Up Jazz Band, open the show with their brilliant interpretations of early jazz favourites. Then, settle in for a charismatic performance from the uber-talented Merschiya Lake.

Tickets: Monday 15 July, 8pm, Assembly Hall, £20 - £22.50.

6. Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Matt Schofield

In this unique blues rock gig, two guitar icons come together. In his 20-year career, Kenny Wayne Shepherd has racked up millions of album sales, five Grammy nominations, and countless awards. Meanwhile, Matt Schofield’s sophisticated blues mastery and improvisational brilliance have won him many awards (not to mention quite a few fans).

Tickets: Tuesday 16 July, 7.30pm, Festival Theatre, £26.50 - £30.50.

7. Ibibio Sound Machine

Eno Williams fronts this incredible band, which brings West African funky seventies grooves, highlife guitar licks, and deep electronica synth beats to EJBF. Get there early to see this eight-piece fill the dancefloor.

Tickets: Thursday 18 July, 9pm, George Square Spiegeltent, £21.

8. Donny McCaslin

McCaslin was famously recruited by David Bowie for his final album Blackstar. With his latest album Blow, he features most of the musicians from that final Bowie album.

Tickets: Thursday 18 July, 8.30pm, Teviot Row, £18.

9. Sons of Kemet

Mercury Prize-nominated Sons of Kemet are at the vanguard of a new jazz world, "where relentless dance-ready rhythms culled from the calypso and soca of the Caribbean merge with classical music and jazz."

Tickets: Sunday 14 July, 8.30pm, Spiegeltent, £17.50.

10. Fergus McCreadie Trio

Pianist Fergus McCreadie plays alongside bassist, David Bowden and drummer, Stephen Henderson in this talented trio. It's a unique Scottish Jazz sound, and one you won't want to miss.

Tickets: Friday 12 July, 7.30pm, Teviot Row, £12.50.

The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival runs from 12 - 21 July 2019. For more details on the festival, and to view the full programme, visit edinburghjazzfestival.com.

Image: Sons of Kemet

This article was published on 18 Jun 2019