The 2009 Wigan International Jazz Festival pays homage to the British big band sound. Borough Life meets one of the stars, Carol Kidd, who was a highlight of the very first festival 24 years ago.
It’s hard not to love Carol Kidd’s voice! Even over the phone her sprightly Scottish brogue is subtle and somewhat hypnotic.
It’s a voice that once led ol’ blues eyes himself to describe her as “the best kept secret of British jazz”.
“Remembering Frank saying that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” says Carol. “I’d been performing at Glasgow Jazz Festival and, unbeknown to me, he’d sent his people in to see me and the next thing his manager was asking if I’d be prepared to do the Ibrox show. Of course I thought it was a complete wind up.
“I sent in a CD and Frank came back with ‘book her for the show’.”
That was back in 1990 and since then she’s racked up honour after honour including an MBE, Best Vocalist at the Cannes International Jazz Awards and Best Vocalist from UK Jazz Awards on no less than four occasions.
Her signature song When I Dream propelled her to superstar status in Asia. The cover song for the Korean movie “Shiri” topped the Asian chart for a massive 13 weeks. Even Robbie Williams at his height didn’t get a look in.
It’s a heady career spanning more than 45 years since she first joined Glasgow’s West Coast Jazz Band at just 15.
In July Carol returns to the north west almost 24 years to the day since she sang at the inaugural Wigan International Jazz Festival.
“When I did the first festival at the time I loved it. It was a great audience, fantastic, and that’s the main criteria for me. A place with a lovely, warm audience and that’s exactly how I remember it.”
Kidd is enthusiastic about her trip back to Wigan and fans and newcomers can expect to be treated to a powerful performance.
“I’m in a good place…a very good place,” says Carol “I’ve just turned 60 and I’ve been doing this since I was 15. I’m happy in my skin and I’m happy with my voice.”
This year Wigan’s International Jazz Festival pays homage to the big sound of British Big Band. Strong support by local businesses and Manchester Airport have ensured this year’s event, despite the difficulty faced by the economy, does go ahead.
“Wigan is a very important Jazz Festival. It’s up there with the best of them with Edinburgh and Glasgow… in fact all jazz festivals!
“It’s a good strong festival with a good reputation and I wouldn’t do it otherwise.
“I’m delighted to be back.”
Over a 25 year period Carol has released seven studio albums and a “Best Of...” compilation for Linn Records. She believes passionately that jazz, despite being a minority genre, plays a pivotal role in people’s appreciation of all types of music.
She adds: “There will always be a future for jazz. Jazz gives young people the roots to any kind of music. Jazz plants their feet in where songs come from and jazz will always be alive.”
Wigan International Jazz Festival runs from 11th July to the 18th July. Tickets are available from 01942 825 677.
Playlist: Big bands are back!
JJB Stadium South Stand Suite
Saturday 11th July,
Pete Long’s All Star Goodmen Orchestra featuring US
Singer Joan Viskant. Recreation of the 1938 Benny Goodman concert.
Sunday 12th July, 12.30pm:
Al Wood Big Band –
The North’s Most Popular
Sunday 12th July, 8.00pm:
Kings Of Swing – Gene Krupa (America’s Ace Drummer Man)
Mon 13th July, 8.00pm:
A Woman’s Touch... BROAD BAND, led by Eleanor Keenan.
Tuesday 14th July, 8.00pm:
Wigan’s Jazz Showcase… featuring four emerging bands.
Wed 15th July, 8.00pm:
Mark Nightingale Big Band featuring the absolute cream of the UK’s jazz and studio musicians
Thursday 16th July, 8.00pm:
An illustrated presentation on the history of the award-winning Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra & Guests.
Friday 17th July, 8.00pm:
Ray Gelato & the Giants.
Saturday 18th July, 8.00pm:
‘Double Header’ Carol Kidd in concert with guitarist Nigel Clark. Plus Wigan Jazz Club Big Band plays the music of Stan Kenton directed by Ian Darrington MBE.