Festival Preview: Jazz Stroud 2024

Written by | Festivals, News

Stroud, nestled in the picturesque Cotswolds, is gearing up to host the much-anticipated Jazz Stroud Festival for its eighth consecutive year, promising a vibrant celebration of music from May 23rd to 26th.

This year’s lineup boasts an impressive array of artists, including the keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones, known for his work with the Ezra Collective, leading his own band, and the Mercury-nominated saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, performing with her electronica jazz trio un.procedure. Joining the ranks is bass guitarist and vocalist Ruth Goller, bringing her enchanting vocal project Skylla to the festival, alongside the rising Scottish sax star Matt Carmichael, showcasing his captivating blend of jazz and folk-infused original compositions.

Now in it’s eighth year, the festival has grown from what was essentially a small weekend festival into a a week long event that takes in several key venues around the town. Speaking about the festivals history, festival programmer Neil Walker explained: “I studied visual art in college, but music has always been a huge passion of mine. Back in the 90s, some fellow artists and I founded art studios with the intention of artist-led management. Over time, events became a significant aspect of our work, often intersecting with music. Among the activities hosted at our spaces were regular jam sessions and gigs, including a jazz jam initiated by Pete Rosser around 17 years ago. He had connections with jazz musicians across Gloucestershire and Bristol. Inspired by this, we decided to experiment with a weekend dedicated to jazz and groove music, which eventually evolved into the vibrant festival it is today.”

Matt Carmichael Quintet – Road To The Sea – Live at Bimhuis


The festival kicks off with a bang on Thursday night with the Tomorrow’s Warriors Takeover. Tomorrow’s Warriors is a London based development program where over 10,000 young musicians have benefited from free learning and development sessions, workshops, and summer schools. Their developmental ensembles, including Tomorrow’s Warriors Junior Band, Youth Ensemble, and Tomorrow’s Warriors Frontline, play a significant role in their educational curriculum, with the latter featuring a formidable lineup of eight musicians advocating for the role of women in jazz. Notable alumni of Tomorrow’s Warriors include Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Femi Koleoso & Ezra Collective, Binker Golding, Shabaka Hutchings, among many others.

The Tomorrow’s Warriors Takeover features three emerging bands: the dynamic five-piece BIG MASSIVE, exploring an eclectic mix of hip-hop, dub, jungle, and video game music; the funky horns and infectious grooves of Frontline, led by talented female musicians; and the internationally renowned drum prodigy Romarna Campbell, delivering a fiery fusion of jazz and fusion.

Supporting up and coming talent is clearly a focus of Jazz Stroud and when speaking to the programing philosophy of the festival Neil explained: “I don’t think we target any particular style. I suppose that the focus if there is a focus is on keeping it as broad as we can and not getting stuck in a rut.” The festival’s programing is a collaborative effort between Neil and Rob Pemberton. Neil continued: “Both Rob and I both have our own propensities to lean towards different music individually, so it’s quite good having the two of us to kind of balance it all out. It’s more just if we feel that someone’s being truly innovative, original, and perhaps would struggle to get that platform elsewhere. It’s also about bringing music to people who perhaps are just visiting town for the weekend and want to stroll in and experience something completely new.”

Among the plethora of new talents gracing the festival stage are captivating vocalists Donna Thompson, TLK, Ines Loubet, and Tianna, alongside the mesmerizing And-Is-Phi from Steam Down, and the powerful horn-heavy project 6161 led by drummer Matt Brown. Adding to the lineup, label PRAH Foundation will showcase some of its stellar roster, accompanied by DJ sets, while Bristol’s Space Jam will unleash their spontaneous musical inventions throughout the weekend.

Cassie Kinoshi un.procedure – You Stepped Into A Hole – Live at Symphony Hall


As mentioned earlier, since its inception, Jazz Stroud has evolved from a small, single-venue event to a multi-venue extravaganza, encompassing key locations across the town, including the historic Brunel Goods Shed, the elegant St Laurence Church, and the vibrant SVA Studios Bar. Notably, live performances will also take place in the town’s two vinyl havens, Sound Records and Klang Tone, offering an immersive experience for music enthusiasts. Building on its success, Jazz Stroud has become a vital platform for emerging artists, forging lasting relationships and creating an environment that fosters artistic growth. Moreover, the festival remains committed to nurturing young talent, dedicating an entire evening to Tomorrow’s Warriors.

Despite its rustic charm and hippie heritage, Jazz Stroud embraces cutting-edge audio technology, partnering with spatial audio specialists d&b audiotechnik to deliver an immersive sonic experience. With their 360-degree soundscape system installed at the Goods Shed and many performances presented in-the-round, the festival offers a unique audio-visual spectacle against the backdrop of the venue’s limestone walls. Jazz Stroud promises to captivate audiences with its dynamic lineup and innovative presentation, showcasing some of the freshest jazz sounds while embracing the town’s rich cultural heritage.

Jazz Stroud will take place between May 23rd to 26th. More information, tickets  and the full festival program  can be found at the festival’s website, jazzstroud.org.

Featured Image © Mark Saunders Photography

Last modified: May 10, 2024