After the overwhelming response to the Ambleside Days Contemporary Jazz Festival we will be hosting another Festival next year starting on Thursday 30th August and concluding on Sunday 2nd September 2018

The 2018 Ambleside Days Contemporary Jazz Festival presents the following musicians:

Claire Martin OBE – Voice
Thomas Gould – Violin
Paul McCandless – Saxophones
Tim Garland – Saxophones
Asaf Sirkis – Drums
Nikki Iles – Piano
Jason Rebello – Piano
Gwilym Simcock – Piano
Mike Walker – Guitar
Joe Locke – Vibraphone
Alyn Cosker – Drums
Martin Berauer – Bass
Bernhard Schimpelsberger – Percussion
Mark Lockheart – Saxophones
Darryl Hall – Bass
Yuri Goloubev – Bass
John Helliwell – Saxophone
plus others.

Below are a couple of the reviews the Festival received.

London Jazz News

Reports keep coming in to us about what a special time the Ambleside Days festival in Cumbria was. Musicians and their partners were made extremely welcome by Zeffirellis. This festival has been described by a number of the participants as having been the completely ideal circumstances in which to make music.

Mike Collins Jazzyblogman

After two evenings of the Ambleside Days ‘Contemporary Music Festival’, it’s quite hard to contain the excitement at what’s still to come. What we’ve already experienced has been quite breathtaking.  For four nights at Zeffirellis in Ambleside, a shifting roster of musicians have assembled to play music that has as its touchstone  an ‘exciting beauty’, to use the words of Derek Hook, animateur of this near magical happening. There’s an overt dedication to the memory of John Taylor; some of his compositions have already been lovingly re-interpreted.  More than this though, there’s a shared sensibility and reverence for allowing arcing, melodic lines to sing; open rich harmony to swell and ring; dancing, fizzing rhythms to animate and most of all an open-ness and receptiveness between musicians that creates drama and excitement on the fly.

On the first evening the Ambleside Quintet took the stage: Stan SulzmanMike WalkerAsaf SirkisDave Holland and Gwilym Simcock. On the second they were distilled to Simcock, Holland and Walker, before Joe Locke’s Quartet took the stage with Simcock and Sirkis joined by Daryl Hall on bass. They briefly expanded to a quintet with Tim Garland guesting.

There are already so many glowing moments, the most compelling have been freighted with emotion as well as dazzling spontaneity.  On the first evening, Gwyilm Simcock segued from an angular Asaf Sirkis piece via a swirling, abstract improvisation that condensed into a pusating groove to launch Stan Suzmann’s Choo Choo.  Mike Walker seduced us all evening with solos that eddied, flowed and soared.  The trio of Simcock – Holland – Walker held the room spellbound whether with a sumptuous solo rendition of Everyone’s Song But My Own by Simcock, an electrifying, joyous solo from Dave Holland on I Should Care or a riotous take on Solar with a playful collective improv as an intro set off by a clang of the strings from Walker, chased by Holland with a big grin.  The Quartet set from Joe Locke was full of vitality and feeling, a dedication to Bobby Hutcherson Make Me Feel Like Its Raining another special moment.

The setting, the pool of musicians as well as performances from world class, established ensembles , is proving to be the perfect recipe for creating a unforgettable tribute to John Taylor and perhaps glimpses of future collaborations.  There’s more to come with The Printmakers taking the stage tonight and another set from a  permutation of that pool of musicians, this time Locke, Garland and Simcock.  Tomorrow, its an audience with Dave Holland and whoever he calls up to join him.


Dave Holland  – double bass

Norma Winstone – voice

Nikki Iles – piano

Mike Walker – guitar

Stan Sulzmann – saxophone

Gwilym Simcock – piano

Joe Locke – vibraphone

John Helliwell – saxophone

Mark Lockheart – saxophone

Tim Garland – saxophone

Steve Watts – double bass

James Maddren – drums

Asaf Sirkis – drums

Darryl Hall – double bass



Review: An evening with Dave Holland, Ambleside Days Festival

An astonishing evening of music in the intimate and very comfortable Zeffirellis Cinema, Ambleside yesterday on the closing night of the first Ambleside Days festival. The festival was a heartfelt tribute to John Taylor and as the evening progressed the music of Kenny Wheeler too. Dave Holland took to the small stage with a solo number before inviting up Norma Winstone, Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker. A magical take on Alice in Wonderland and a joyful Ladies in Mercedes plus first performance of Fly the Wind – Norma’s lyrics on John Taylor’s Witch Hazel.

After a break Dave Holland invited up Nikki Iles and James Maddren for a beautiful trio rendition of John Taylor’s Evansong followed by Mike Walker joining them on Dave’s Blues for CM. This grew into Nikki’s ‘Print Makers’ band with Norma Winstone and Mark Lockheart. Then the horn players, Stan Sulzmann, Tim Garland and John Helliwell with Nick Smart on trumpet and flugel horn squeezed onto the stage with Nikki / Gwilym and James Maddron / Asif Sirkis taking turns on piano and drums.

This larger ensemble played a mix of charts contributed by Nikki, Dave and Stan, with numbers by Dave and Kenny Wheeler (including Old Time and Kind Flock). Absolutely magical. Paul Allen was recording everything so some of this music might get released at some point. From the evidence of this night the festival certainly lived up to its description as “a celebration of world class contemporary music” and organiser Derek Hook confirmed that there will be a festival in 2018.