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Damian Lewis to perform with seven-piece band at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

The actor is expected to play tracks from his debut album, which is set to be released later this year.

Connie Evans
Wednesday 08 February 2023 00:01 GMT
Actor Damian Lewis is to perform with jazz outfit Kansas Smitty’s at Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Joseph Lynn/PA)
Actor Damian Lewis is to perform with jazz outfit Kansas Smitty’s at Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Joseph Lynn/PA) (PA Media)

Damian Lewis is set to team up with jazz outfit Kansas Smitty’s to perform at Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

The 51-year-old British actor, best known for starring in TV dramas including Band Of Brothers and Homeland, is expected to play tracks from his debut album, which is set to be released later this year.

Lewis, who last year played an intimate London show and appeared at the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, will be accompanied on stage by the jazz group, which is headed up by Italian-American musician Giacomo Smith.

Having played the guitar since the age of 13, Lewis rediscovered the instrument during lockdown and later teamed up with various London-based musicians, including Smith, who plays both clarinet and alto saxophone, to record his debut album.

Lewis will join the seven-piece outfit, who have previously sold out Ronnie Scott’s and The Jazz Cafe, to perform at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from April 26 to May 1.

Also in the line-up are Grammy Award-winning Van Morrison, who will play hits from his back catalogue and perform tracks from his forthcoming album, Moving On Skiffle, and Ivor Novello Award-winning singer Laura Mvula, who previously played at the festival in 2014.

Canadian-American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, Grammy-winning Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, pop star Mika and British singer Will Young are also set to perform.

The event will also see shows from singer-songwriter Jake Bugg, singer and pianist Joe Stilgoe, and new wave band Squeeze, who will perform tracks from across their career, spanning almost five decades.

Returning for 2023 is the festival’s artistic curator, Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Gregory Porter, who has selected a number of artists to perform at this year’s festival and will stage his own headline show alongside a number of special guests including American jazz and gospel singer Lizz Wright.

Porter, 51, will also perform as part of Soul Jazz Summit, a new annual show for the festival, which will “celebrate the explosion of jazz and soul from the late 1950s” and feature the BBC Concert Orchestra and Guy Barker’s Big Band.

The Soul Jazz Summit concert will also feature guest appearances from singers and musicians including Madeline Bell, Mica Millar, Ashton Jones, Vanessa Haynes and Georgia Cecile.

The festival’s development strand will once again offer opportunities for young, up-and-coming jazz artists, including the showcase double bill in the Jazz arena, which will feature rising stars Tamzene, a Scottish singer-songwriter, and Immy, a Kent-based singer-songwriter.

Meanwhile, Kansas Smitty’s late-night takeover sessions in Cheltenham’s bar and event space The Daffodil will introduce special guests from across the festival’s programme.

Local school jazz bands will also be given the chance to entertain crowds on the Free Stage as part of the Jazz It Up morning.

– Tickets for Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which takes place between April 26 and May 1, will go on sale on March 1.

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