What a wonderful May!

What a wonderful May! Thank you to everyone who attended the concerts in May at our home in St Mary’s Church, Rye and further afield at the De La Warr Pavilion and the Hever Festival Theatre in the gardens of beautiful Hever Castle.

The May series of concerts got underway on Friday 3rd May in Rye with the ‘Godfather’ of bossa nova and Brazilian music Sergio Mendes. Sergio had the audience up and moving with a special selection of Brazilian rhythms infused with jazz, pop, soul and funk. His music is instantly recognisable, and the evenings rendition of the 1966 hit Mas Que Nada (which topped the charts again forty years later in collaboration with the Black Eyed Peas) was a definite highlight.

On Saturday 4th May the highly acclaimed American jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux delighted her engaging audience with songs from her latest album Anthem and her impressive back catalogue from her eight studio albums, spanning two decades. Madeleine continues to challenge the confines of jazz, venturing into the fertile fields of contemporary music with unfading curiosity and she performed with a playfulness and was supported by her very talented trio.

On Sunday 5th May the legendary Multiple Grammy-winning American songwriter Jimmy Webb performed a truly unique concert ‘An Evening with Jimmy Webb’ with special guest’s award - winning jazz singer and songwriter Ian Shaw. Jimmy Webb is the genius behind so many hit records such as Wichita Lineman, By The Time I get to Phoenix and Rhinestone Cowboy all of which were recorded by the legendary American Country singer Glen Campbell. Webb delivered a humorous tour into the life of a songwriting prodigy and gave a lesson in pop culture for the last seven decades. He told stories of the Nixon Sixties, the Rat Pack heyday and times with the London Mods. Webb’s piano play was masterful and he bravely belted out his songs made famous by legends over the years.

Sergio Mendes Madi

Rye Jazz & Blues Festival were excited to return to the iconic setting of De La Warr Pavilion on Saturday 25th May to present violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy who performed his Gershwin meets Bach meets Kennedy show to a packed house. Timeless standards as Summertime, Rhapsody In (Claret &) Blue, They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Porgy and Bess were delivered with Kennedy’s inimitable style and verve. Kennedy was joined on stage by his immensely talented musicians all wearing his beloved Aston Villa football tops for the second half of the show. Classical music’s most successful performer of all-time who grew up listening to his stepfather’s jazz records, picking out Fats Waller tunes on the piano and Kennedy made a rip-roaring foray into the songbook of iconoclastic American composer Gershwin with a mesmerisingly musical collection playing both violin and piano masterfully.


During the last May Bank Holiday weekend Rye Jazz & Blues Festival took over Hever Festival Theatre in the grounds of Hever Castle to present three wonderful artists in this truly stunning setting. The Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and the Mother of Elizabeth I, and dates back to the 13th century. Ticket holders wandered through the beautiful gardens, enjoyed a homemade picnic or meal at the Guthrie Pavilion and drinks in the Italian Gardens and by the lake before the concert.

Opening the weekend on Saturday 25 May was multi-instrumentalist Courtney Pine who presented his show ‘Black Notes From The Deep’ with special guest Omar. Courtney had the crowd up on their feet and joining in the party atmosphere right from the start of his set, blasting his tenor saxophone and having fun with his fabulous musicians and Omar especially on the killer cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly” which brought the house down.

‘The Hottest Guitarist In The World’, Classic BRIT winning Miloš Karadaglić delighted the audience on Sunday 26th May. Milos created a special programme for the evening and performed a wonderful programme of Spanish Classics, cool Latin Bach chaconnes and Beatles arrangements with his talented string musicians Ensemble7. The evening was chilly and a little damp but the crowd were treated to a masterclass in classical guitar and Milos’ sunny persona.

Mica Paris closed out the Hever Series on Sunday 27th May performing her unique celebration of Ella Fitzgerald’s life and music. Mica was joined on stage by her immensely talented jazz musicians. Fitzgerald hits including favourites “Imagine My Frustration”, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye and “Summer Time” were covered with Mica paying homage to Ella and reinterpreting her songs with her soulful take. Mica and her band were in fine form, she had the audience up on their feet joining in the songs and gave them a night to treasure.

A huge thank you to our fantastic team of volunteers who made the trip up to Hever Castle each day for the concerts. We couldn’t deliver the concerts we do without you so thank you!

Courtney Pine Milos Mica Paris

Thank you to everyone who joined us at any of the concerts throughout May and of course to the fantastic artists, venues and amazing team of Rye Jazz & Blues volunteers. We certainly enjoyed being out and about but we’ll be back in Rye over the summer bank holiday weekend for the main summer festival from the 22nd to the 26th of August. We can’t wait!

This year’s programme includes superb, intimate headline concerts in the stunning setting of 900 year old St Mary’s Church featuring British Queen of Soul Beverley Knight, Bluesman Lucky Peterson, Jazz funk band JTQ, American singer Rumer and New Orleans Jazz legend Jon Cleary. There’s also plenty of free concerts on the Kino Terrace our dedicated outdoor stage, marching band, Dray Horse and spoken word performances on the streets, jazz dining at The Gallivant in Camber and other gigs at fringe venues across the town. Expect the very best in jazz, blues, RnB, Soul, Folk, Roots, Latin, Cuban and contemporary music. We look forward to seeing you over the weekend!

Please check out the full line up ryejazz.com and make sure you book the ticketed events early to avoid disappointment as they are selling fast!

For more information on the town of Rye including accommodation and places to eat and drink please click here

We are getting closer to confirming the full line up - please check out ryejazz.com over the coming weeks to make you’re in the know. Sign up to our newsletter (click on the blue arrow) to be the first to hear about future concerts, special offers and lots more!

See you in August Rye!

Posted on 14/06/2019 by Ian Bowden

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