Opening tonight, Aberdeen Jazz Festival lights up the city for ten days with top-class live music from leading national and international attractions, local luminaries and emerging stars.

Now in its twentieth year, the event has grown into Scotland’s second-largest jazz festival and celebrates the full range of jazz styles from vintage swing to searing blues and from hot funk grooves to contemplative piano music.

Highlights include a poignant duo featuring internationally admired Aberdeen-born drummer Sebastian Rochford and pianist Kit Downes, poetic new music from saxophonist Martin Kershaw’s acclaimed octet and the new Scandinavian instrumental force Maridalen.

There are also two re-imaginings of classical music masterpieces. Dutch violin virtuoso Tim Kliphuis swings through Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra performs founder-director Tommy Smith’s energetic jazz take on Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf - narrated in Doric by Aberdeen’s own Joyce Falconer.

While audiences can hear eclectic music in established venues including the Blue Lamp, Cowdray Hall, Resident X, Queen’s Cross Church, and the Lemon Tree, there are also performances in community centres and care homes across the city. Workshops and an Open Day will add an educational strand with opportunities to play with and learn from the professionals.

A celebratory day of music will take place from 10am to midnight on Saturday, March 25. Acclaimed saxophonist Helena Kay and cellist Juliette Lemoine will give morning solo performances in Bon Accord Baths, followed by Jazz the Day, a one-ticket pass to a multi-venue, multi-band family-friendly daytime event. Then a full programme of evening performances tops off this, the penultimate day of the festival, including 9-piece party band Funk Connection.

A particular theme of the festival this year is music that crosses genres. The award-winning Berlin-based drummer and producer Magro, Edinburgh’s Atom Eyes, and the festival-commissioned Dee Don Danube take audiences on adventures that explore the common ground shared by jazz, hip-hop, and R&B.

Bassist James Lindsay’s Torus and pianist Dave Milligan fuse jazz with Scottish traditional music. Guitarist Gerry Jablonski presents high energy blues. Scottish Jazz Award-winning vocalist Kitti channels her soul heroines. Son al Son bring the rhythms of Havana to Resident X in Marischal Square and although some gigs have sold out in advance, including those by the award-winning singer Georgia Cecile and pianist Fergus McCreadie, tickets are still available for all other concerts including exciting European bands, Italy's Raf Ferrari Quartet and Luxembourg's Dock in Absolute.

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