A BIG Thank You to one and all…

Without all the great people that take part the festival would not be the success it is.


Each and every one for your wonderful support this year.

We trust you all journeyed home safely and have only the very best memories to share about this ‘reinvigorated’ festival.


Each and every fabulous ‘fresh’ performance truly made this a spectacular event.

We hope you too have travelled home safely and continue the season with similar success having shown so much enjoyment and so enthusiastically embracing this ‘revival’ festival.


For your generous smiles and hard work throughout have helped achieve an experience our visitors and performers will not forget!

We hope you too are returned home safely and relaxing at last following the many challenges this ‘renewal’ festival brought about, to which you all rose magnificently!

Thank you all, from a very happy Festival Team.

A look-back at the 27th Festival in May 2018

For four days in May this year the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival, a major event in the town, was held in the historic market town of Keswick, a stunning location within the majestic Lake District National Park, recently awarded World Heritage Status.

The Festival, following its tradition, took place at various selected venues throughout the town, all of which are within easy strolling distance of one another.

For the past 27 years the festival has attracted some great players and bands. This year our booking team had again done us proud! The 2018 ‘Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival’ managed to retain everything tradition demands as it welcomed back many of its best-loved performers, including the great Enrico Tomasso and Keith Nichols. The 28th line-up also featured some impressive world-class names such as Marla Dixon (USA), alongside some wonderful new talent introduced to the festival this year with the addition of a most splendid grand finale on Sunday evening.

The Festival was again acknowledged as being amongst the very best of its kind in the UK and once more reputed for its excellence by musicians and discerning festival goers alike.

The choice of entertainment, variety and superb calibre of musicality on offer was second to none.

This year the organisers even managed to squeeze some interviews with the stars and put them on the website for your pleasure (see below).

And if you wondering just who you missed this year then we have left a fairly comprehensive list below.

Perhaps we’ll see you at the 28th Keswick jazz & Blues Festival between the 9th & 12th of may 2019.

Interviews with the Stars

The program director for the festival has arranged some really engaging interviews with some of this year’s festival stars and they are well worth a listen.

Either use this link to access each interview in order (take me straight there now… or, to listen to a specific interview, use the links below.

Enrico Tomasso

Enrico Tomasso



Denise Gordon



Marla Dixon


Keith Nichols


2018 was amazing – here’s a quick look at the artists that were there..

in no particular order

Marla Dixon – trumpet & vocals

Marla Dixon, originally from Toronto, is now at the very heart of the burgeoning New Orleans jazz scene and is the leader of the hugely popular “Shotgun Jazz Band”. Her big, brassy, bluesy voice and fire cracker trumpet creates a crackling live energy while sounding like it could just as easily be emanating from a hand-cranked gramophone.

Marla is an all too infrequent visitor to these shores so we’re over the moon to have enticed her away from her home base of the wonderful “Spotted Cat” in the French Quarter of New Orleans to play for us in 2018. She’ll be featured with Mike Owen’s Scarlette’s Serenaders” as well as several ‘All Star’ sessions around the Festival.

Keith Nichols – piano and vocals

Keith Nichols is quite simply the doyen of Classic Jazz and Ragtime but especially the jazz piano styles of Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. The co-founder in 1977 of the hugely popular ‘Midnite Follies Orchestra’ in addition to playing all over the world with a host of jazz legends Keith has written hundreds of arrangements and transcriptions in the 20s and 30s style, most notably for the ‘New York Jazz Repertory Company’ and, of course the Pasadena Roof Orchestra.

For our delight Keith will be presenting his 10 piece band at the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival 2018 as well as fronting the Ellington section of our concert special which combines the small big bands of Louis Armstrong and early Duke. In addition to that we’ve arranged for Keith to play a more intimate show with just three or four of his most favourite musicians, a special treat if there was one!

Denise Gordon – vocals

Denise Gordon has performed around the world from Australia to Zimbabwe and it’s an honour to welcome her to Keswick for the very first time.

Influenced by her rich Afro-Caribbean musical heritage with her style firmly rooted in Gospel Denise tours frequently throughout Europe and in the U.S including gigs at the Preservation Hall, New Orleans.

As far away as Australia, Brazil and Hong Kong and in UK venues as varied as Buckingham Palace, Glastonbury and T in the Park, Denise has wowed audiences and won life long fans and now it’s the turn of the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival to hear and see why!

Alan Barnes – saxophones and clarinet

Alan Barnes’ reputation as one of the jazz world’s truly great mainstreamers is fully deserved.  A brilliant multi-instrumentalist who’s equally at home with the jazz repertoire of 30s and 40s swing, Traditional Jazz as well as a master of the language of bebop. His recorded catalogue is immense having made over thirty albums as leader and co-leader alone, and the list of his session and side-man work includes Bjork, Bryan Ferry, Humphrey Lyttelton, Stan Tracy, John Dankworth, Kenny Baker, Michel LeGrande, Clare Teale, Westlife, Jools Holland and Jamie Cullum. He has toured and played residencies with such diverse and demanding figures as Ruby Braff, Freddie Hubbard, Scott Hamilton, Warren Vache, Ken Peplowski, Harry Allen and Conte Candoli.

Alan plays all the saxophones and clarinet quite brilliantly and is one of the warmest and funniest front men around and his sessions for us in 2018 are sure to be standing room only.

Basin Street Brawlers

Peter Horsfall : Trumpet and vocals
Ewan Bleach : Clarinet and Alto Saxophone
Malcolm Earle-Smith : Trombone
Colin Good : Piano
Martin Wheatley : Guitar

Pete Horsfall’s Basin Street Brawler’s are London’s own master exponents of hot jazz, swingin’ their way through the most beautiful melodies and raucous rags of the 1920s and 1930s. This fantastic band which is
made up of some the very finest jazz musicians of their generation play the tunes of the master songwriters of the era, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and George Gershwin, all delivered in a unique and powerful style
reminiscent of the Louis Armstrong All Stars and “Fats” Waller.

In addition to their sets as the “Basin Street Brawlers” Peter, Malcolm and Martin will be joining Enrico
Tomasso for his “When Bix Met Louis’ concert, Ewan will be teaming up with the New Orleans trumpet whizz
Marla Dixon for a session of the hottest jazz and Colin will be leading a session all of his own with some very special guests.

Mike Owen’s Scarlette’s Serenaders

Mike Owen : Trombone & Vocals
Marla Dixon : Trumpet
Sarah Spencer : Reeds & Vocals
Brian Mellor : Banjo, Guitar & Vocals
Jim Swinnerton : String bass
Jools Aldridge : Drums

After spending his formative years immersed in the recordings of the late, great ‘Kid’ Ory in 1989 Mike moved to New Orleans, where he spent 10 years soaking in the city and its music, playing & and recording with many of the very best jazz musicians on that vibrant scene. In 2003, Mike moved to Århus, Denmark in 2003 from where he toured throughout Europe with his own bands, the deliciously named “Bordello Bedwarmers” and “Woodland Jazz Band” and as a much sought after guest star. Now based back in the UK Mike is bringing his all star band to Keswick for the very first time where they will be performing with the great New Orleans trumpeter and singer Marla Dixon.

Roy Williams – Trombone

The Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival is pleased as anything to welcome back one of the legends of British Jazz, Roy Williams, winner of the British Jazz Awards no fewer than twelve times!

Truly one of the world’s greatest trombone players Roy spent four years in the Terry Lightfoot Band at the height of the ‘Trad Boom” before joining the legendary “Alex Welsh Band” in 1965 with whom he toured with a host of the very finest talents in jazz including Henry “Red” Allen, “Wild’ Bill Davidson, Peanuts Hucko, Earl Hines, Bud Freeman, Ruby Braff and many, many more.
In 1977 Roy left Alex Welsh to freelance for awhile until he joined Humphrey Lyttelton’s Band, where he stayed for nearly six fruitful years and since that time Roy has freelanced and firmly established his place among the world’s trombone elite. Constantly in demand at both UK and international festivals, Roy has appeared on over 200 recordings.

As well as leading his own Quartet at the Festival Roy will be appearing as a featured guest with with Enrico Tomasso, ‘Alex Welsh Remembered” and T.J. Johnson.

As Brian Matthew wrote in his magnum opus “Trad Mad” in 1962 ‘We’re going to hear a lot more from Roy Williams!

Dale Storr – Piano and vocals

“One of the UK’s leading exponents of New Orleans Piano” ~ Blues In Britain Magazine
“Fantastic piece of work” ~ Paul Jones BBC Radio 2

Dale Storr’s musical journey has taken him from his rural Lincolnshire upbringing to his own musical mecca, New Orleans. Dale’s early musical interests were inspired by his parents’ record collection of early rock’n’roll and country music. His interest grew deeper when he began playing the piano at the age of six cocking an ear to the piano-based music of Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino.
Dale has played alongside King King feat. Alan Nimmo, Kevin Thorpe, 60’s icon Dave Berry, American soul star Earl Thomas, Texas guitar legend Rocky Athas and US R&B giant Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges, supporting along the way, the likes of Duke Robillard and New Orleans pianist Henry Butler to name but a few. The piano music of New Orleans is a real passion for Dale who has who immersed himself in the styles of Professor Longhair, Dr.John, Allen Toussaint, Tuts Washington and James Booker. He has toured Europe and the UK from Penzance to the Shetland Islands and we’re delighted to welcome him back to the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival.

Baby Jools’ Jazzaholics

Denny Ilett : Trumpet
Karl Hird : Clarinet and Tenor saxophone
Mike Owen : Trombone
Brian Mellor : Banjo
Jim Swinnerton : String bass
Baby Jools : Drums

Baby Jools has been leading the UK’s favourite jazz band since 2012, when Jim McIntosh moved to
Germany and handed over band leadership. It has quickly become one of the most sought after New Orleans style jazz bands in the UK and they have have performed all over the country and in Europe.

Featuring a truly world class front line of Denny Illet, Mike Owen and Karl Hird and powered by the superb
rhythm team of Jools alongside everyone’s favourite bassist Jim Swinnerton and banjo maestro Brian Mellor
this is a band that plays music for the heart and the feet.

You can expect great renditions of the classic tunes of King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Kid
Ory and George Lewis alongside genuinely moving gospel and spiritual numbers with a little New Orleans
parade band tunes thrown in for good measure.

Enrico Tomasso – Trumpet and vocals

Among the most complete of contemporary jazz musicians, it is not surprising that Enrico Tomasso has won the British Jazz Award for best trumpeter three times. ‘Rico’ has played with a virtual “who’s who” of jazz including long stints in The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Ray Gelato’s Giants, Acker Bilk’s Band and more recently with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra.
Rico will be featured in several sessions at the 2018 Festival including ‘When Louis met Bix’ and ‘Alex Welsh Remembered’ but we’re particularly excited to present the “Enrico Tomasso All Star Big Band” for the very first time at the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival.

TJ Johnson Piano and Vocals

T.J. Johnson is deservedly considered to be one of the UK’s best jazz and blues singers and plays and sings an extraordinary mix of music that transcends the boundaries of jazz, blues, country and gospel influenced by the likes of Ray Charles, Dr John, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, BB King, Nina Simone and Jimmy Witherspoon. T.J. will be backed by an all star band featuring Tony Pitt, Bruce Rollo, Al Nichols and Jack Cotterill as well as some very special guests!

Moscow Drug Club

Katya Gorrie : Vocals
Denny Ilett : Guitar
Mirek Salmon : Accordion
Andy Crowdy : Double bass
Jonny Bruce : Trumpet

New to Keswick but not to the European Jazz Festival circuit where they are a huge hit where ever they go, the ‘Moscow Drug Club’ combine original material with songs by the likes of Jaques Brel, Leornard Cohen, Tom Waits & Bertolt Brecht all mixed into an intoxicating & intimate musical experience. Featuring the wonderfully dark and mysterious vocals of Katya Gorrie and the virtuoso guitar styling of Denny Ilett this is a treat not to be missed!

Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham – Guitar, Banjo and vocals

Over his long and illustrious career Spats has played with a host of what can only be described as jazz royalty including The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, The Temperance Seven, The Chris Barber Jazz Band, Monty Sunshine, Acker Bilk, Marty Grosz, Bob Bernhard, Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern and many, many other lucky enough to have this true virtuoso play with them. Amongst many career highlights Spats has been invited to perform at the ‘Bix Beiderbecke Festival’ at Davenport, U.S.A. since 2005 and back in 2006 to huge acclaim, he sang the role of Bing Crosby in the Paul Whiteman recreation with the Northern Symphonia under the direction of Keith Nichols. We’ll be keeping Spats busy over the Festival so look out for him on several unmissable sessions.

Martin Wheatley – Banjo and Guitar

Martin Wheatley is a virtuoso guitar, banjo, ukelele and mandolin player and a true expert in early blues & jazz styles whose authentic and tasteful playing is sought out by all the various famous British vintage jazz ensembles to tourall over Europe and America. To play the banjo is one thing but to play the guitar, Hawaiian guitar, ukulele and Octophone as well constitutes serious ‘doubling’ and we’re delighted that in addition to playing with the electrically exciting  “Basin Street Brawlers” Martin will also be part of ‘When Louis Met Bix’

Savannah Jazz Band

John Meehan : Drums
Bill Smith : Cornet
Brian ‘Sam’ Ellis : Trombone
Roger Myerscroft : Clarinet
Chris Marney : Banjo
Tony Pollitt : String bass

There is never a shortage of fun, excitement and raw good music whenever the Savannah Jazz Band takes the stage with their driving and exciting New Orleans style and their talent for satisfying listeners and dancers alike.

Over the four decades since the band formed in 1979 the Savannah Jazz Band has toured all over Europe and Canada and have released 21 albums and we’re pleased to say that they’ll be back to wow us once again at the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival 2018.

Tom Seals – Piano and vocals

Tom Seals is a musical powerhouse of the piano and a truly sensational singer in the style of Ray Charles, Gregory Porter and Al Green who has played to packed houses all over the UK and Europe as well as in New York and Hong Kong. His virtuoso playing and soulful, distinctive voice have set him out at the tender age of 23 as a huge star of the future and we’re proud and pleased to present the future of vibrant jazz and blues in the making from this hugely entertaining performer and his top class band.

Rose Room

Seonaid Aitken : Violin and vocals
Tom Watson : Lead guitar
Tam Gallagher : Rhythm guitar
Jimmy Moon : Double bass

‘Rose Room’ have become one of Scotland’s leading jazz and swing ensembles. Sharing a love of Swing music and the style of the great Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, their “vigorous and vivacious” performances go down a storm with any audience as they serve up their 1930s ‘Hot Club’ standards, Gypsy Jazz favourites and self-penned originals with virtuosity, verve and panache.

The hottest ticket in Scotland right now we’re delighted to have them at Keswick for the very first time. This is classy vintage swing and gypsy jazz played by a band that combines brilliant musicianship and warm personality.

“Stupendous gypsy jazz, and a superb singer” (The Scotsman).

Peter Rudeforth – Trumpet and vocals

A much loved and hugely respected player, Peter Rudeforth is coming to enhance all manner of bands at the Festival including the ensembles of Keith Nichols and Enrico Tomasso as well as leading his own wonderful six piece Dixieland band, “The Peter Rudeforth Jazz Band”.

Peter came to the attention of the world’s jazz world when in 2008 he replaced the legendary Pat Halcox in the Chris Barber Band but Peter has also played with some of the top groups in jazz, The Charleston Chasers, The Piccadilly Dance Orchestra, The Palm Court Theatre Orchestra, Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, Acker Bilk, George Melly, The Temperance Seven and The Pasadena Roof Orchestra.

‘Magic’ Mike Henry – Trumpet

As well as featuring with a fine array of the very best of the UK’s jazz outfits such as The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Cotton Club Orchestra, The Grahamaphones, The Charleston Chasers, Harry Stutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra, The Midnite Follies Orchestra and Ray Gelato’s Giants, Mike has been touring Europe and the UK with The Big Chris Barber Band since 2001. His incendiary, virtuosic trumpet playing has made him legions fans all over the world and we’re delighted he’ll be back to delight his Keswick fans in 2018 as part of both Keith Nichols and Enrico Tomasso’s Big Bands and alongside Joan Viskant presenting their hugely popular “Magic Band”

Joan Viskant – Vocals

We’re really excited to be able to present one of the jazz world’s favourite singers in 2018, the wonderful Joan Viskant. Born in Chicago and then a long time resident of Paris before settling in London,
not only does Joan delight everyone lucky enough to hear her she is one of the rare breed of singers – a musician’s singer and to prove that we have a long list of the very best instumentalists lining up to join her on stage at Keswick 2018 including the likes of Keith Nichols, Magic “Mike” Henry, Richard Exall and Craig Milverton

Brian Kellock – Piano

We are very pleased to have Brian play for us at the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival 2018. A truly internationally recognized piano master who has played all over the world from Australia to New York and from Johannesburg to St Petersburg with some of the very finest names in jazz and blues including Red Rodney, Sheila Jordan, Warren Vaché, Art Farmer, James Morrison, Charlie Rouse, Bill Watrous, Scott Hamilton, Stanley Turrentine and Herb Geller. Brian will be backing several of our front line stars at the Festival and will be presenting his wonderful tribute to Fats Waller with Roy Percy and Nic Ball.

Richard Exall – Saxophones and clarinet

In the 1997 Richard toured the United States and Europe with Jesus Alemany’s renowned band Cubanismo, in which he had the honour of being the only non-Cuban member. He was also a regular musician with Orchestra La Clave, Robin Jones’ King Salsa, Viramundo, Roberto Pla and Tumbaito. Richard worked alongside many of the great names in the latin music world including Carlos Del Puerto, Mario Rivera, Orlando Watussi, Tito Allen, Alfredo Rodriguez and Tata Guines.

Richard has worked with The Nelson Riddle Orchestra (UK). the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra and the Charleston Chasers Kenny Ball and toured with American pianist Johnny Varro’s Swing Seven and between 2004 and 2014 Richard became a regular member of the Big Chris Barber Band

Vitality 3/5

Michael McQuaid – Clarinet/Alto Saxophone/Trumpet
Michael is an truly amazing jazz musician who regularly performs at the very highest level on clarinet, saxophones, trumpet and even occasionally piano. Michael also recently been touring the world as part of the all-star US/Australian collaboration The Hot Jazz Alliance, and has performed with many current greats of the 1920s and 1930s jazz scene including Vince Giordano, Bob Wilber and Andy Schumm.

Aside from his performances with The Vitality Five, Michael will be performing for us as part of “Keith Nichols and his Ragamuffins defy Prohibition”, the Keith Nichols Festival Orchestra and Enrico Tomasso’s All Star Big Band.

David Horniblow – Clarinet/Bass Saxophone
As one of the UK’s most in-demand reeds players in a multitude of musical contexts David is the leader of “The Vitality Five” which features him on that all too rarely heard beast, the Bass Saxophone as well as fronting The Vitality Three which sees him show off his amazing technique on clarinet and alto saxophone. A veteran of film and TV David has also appeared on dozens of recordings those with including the Chris Barber Band, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra and Keith Nichols’ Blue Devils. Amongst other sessions in 2018 David with be bringing his sophisticated energy and jaw dropping technique to both the “Keith Nichols Festival Orchestra” and “Enrico Tomasso’s All Star Big Band”.

Spats Langham – Guitar and Banjo
Spats will be depping in 2018 for “The Vitality Five’s” regular guitarist, Martin Wheatley. You can find out all about Spats in his individual entry.

Andrew Oliver – Piano
Both as a pianist and a noted composer Andrew Oliver performs and writes music across many styles. He studied in New Orleans before returning to his hometown of Portland, Oregon in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina but luckily for us in the UK in 2013 Andrew moved to London where he is involved in a wide range of interesting musical projects. Andrew is a devotee and a master of many genres and styles including modern jazz, West African music, tango and silent film, and as well as performing with both “The Vitality Five” and The Vitality Three he will be part of sessions featuring Enrico Tomasso and Peter Horsfall.

Nic Ball – Drums and Percussion
One of the world’s leading exponents of early jazz drumming, Nic’s sense of authenticity and knowledge of period performance practices have already made him the busiest percussionist of the younger generation. He began by leading his own band, Albert Ball’s Flying Aces, and has since gone on to make exceptional vintage jazz with Alex Mendham and His Orchestra, Richard White’s Fivers, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra and many others. In addition to his “Vitality” performances in 2018 Nic will be playing with Brian Kellock’s “Tribute to Fat’s Waller”.

Craig Milverton Trio

Craig Milverton is one of Britain’s finest jazz pianists and this was recognized in 2010 by winning Best Jazz Pianist in the British Jazz Awards and 10 Awards with Digby Fairweather and his Half Dozen in the Best Small Group Category. Craig’s trio which we’re delighted to be welcoming to the Festival has backed a whole host of top names such as Ken Peplowski, Julian Stringle, Roy Williams, Stacey Kent, Jacqui Dankworth and Scott Hamilton features the gifted gifted young Ray Brown inspired bass virtuoso, Ashley John Long and the great swinging drummer Nick Millward.
Richard has worked with The Nelson Riddle Orchestra (UK). the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra and the Charleston Chasers Kenny Ball and toured with American pianist Johnny Varro’s Swing Seven and between 2004 and 2014 Richard became a regular member of the Big Chris Barber Band

Tom Gordon – Drums

In 2002 Tom took over the drum chair in the BBC Big Band, a position he holds to this day and in addition to that he has worked with a dizzying array of jazz talent including The Woody Herman Orchestra, NDR Big Band, Lalo Schifrin, Al Jarreau, Joe Sample, James Morrison, The BBC Concert Orchestra, The London Philharmonia, The Royal Phiharmonic Orchestra, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Jamie Cullum, Phil Woods, Bob Brookmeyer, Eliane Elias, Sammy Nestico, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine,
As well as featuring in some of our all star sessions at the Festival we’ll be reuniting Tom with Enrico Tomasso, one of his band mates from his decade long sojourn in ‘Ray Gelato and the Giants’ when he will be powering the Enrico’s All Star Big Band.

Amy Roberts – Saxophones, Flute and Clarinet

One of the UK’s best loved jazz musicians, Amy has played all over the UK and Europe both with her own bands and between 2011 and 2014 with the “Big Chris Barber Band”. She has also played with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, The London Swing Orchestra, Pete Long’s Echoes of Ellington, Keith Nichols Blue Devils Orchestra and Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra as well as Alan Barnes, Bruce Adams, Roy Willliams, Enrico Tomasso, John Crocker, and Andy Fairweather Low. Amy will be playing sessions with Alan Barnes and John Hallam as well as appearing with “Enrico Tomasso’s All Star Big Band” and Keswick debutants “Rose Room”.

Earl Okin – Vocals, guitar and piano

Earl, a life-long opera fanatic, began his career writing and singing pop songs, signed to the same company as the Beatles, back in the 60s, later performing alongside everyone from Paul McCartney to Van Morrison, Benny Carter to Cleo Laine. He has developed into one of the world’s finest Jazz and Bossa Nova singers, accompanying himself on guitar or piano as is most appropriate.

He is also renowned for his ‘vocal-trumpet’ solos, which he has made into an art form of his own, inspired by Louis Armstrong and most of the trumpeters who played for Duke Ellington before WWII. More recently he has written a full musical and a symphony. Earl gives concerts everywhere from Ronnie Scott’s and the Royal Albert Hall to venues from Brazil to Australia, (usually including a little of his brand of humour) and we’re delighted he’s set to return to Keswick of which he has very fond memories. Unique and unmissable.

And so many more..