The best of local jazz and blues talent will mix with international artists as part of the Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival, now in its 28th year.
As well as attracting a plethora of big names from the music world the festival will also showcase talent from the West Midlands, during its run until July 15.
The line up includes America’s leading jazz cabaret act, Daryl Sherman; the dynamic Massachusetts-born saxophonist Greg Abate; Boston’s finest jazz export, the tenor-flautist Carol Sudhalter; the Budapest Ragtime Band; premier saxophonists Alan Barnes, Simon Spillett, Dave Gelly and Art Themen; guitarist and singer Spats Langham; and the star of the Lady Sings the Blues (and Britain’s best Swing singer) Val Wiseman.
Described as “rock’n’roll aristocracy”, Will Johns is set to be another major musical highlight.
The 39-year-old’s uncle, Glyn Johns, worked with the likes of Eric Clapton and the late George Harrison.
His mother is the late actress and model Paula Boyd, the sister of Pattie and Jenny Boyd, while his father is record producer Andy Johns, who can boast the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton on his CV.
But Will will not only be performing in Birmingham, he will also be using the platform of the Birmingham Jazz Festival to launch his new album, Hooks and Lines, which is on release with Birmingham-based Big Bear Records.
Organised by festival director Jim Simpson, of Big Bear Records, yet another big name to be taking part is festival patron and award-winning jazz cornettist Digby Fairweather, who will be leading a swing session at StarCity on the festival’s opening night.
One of Birmingham’s most successful musical exports, the swing band King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys, will also be appearing at the city’s Botanical Gardens.
The festival will see youngsters encouraged to get into the spirit of swingtime by stepping back in time and learning a few Jitterbug moves. Expert Alistair Fitzgerald, head of Strictly Jitterbug, will be running workshops for under-16s to learn The Charleston Stroll, which swept America during the 1930s and 1940s heyday of swing.
And a troupe of Chinese jitterbug dancers, who strutted their stuff with some of the jollier bands at last year’s festival, is set to return this year but is promising to be “bigger and better”.
People of all ages will also get a chance to pick up the bug for playing music when Professional Music Technology runs a day-long Learn to Play programme.
Mr Simpson said: “One of the great pleasures the festival gives me is to be able to welcome to Birmingham artists from all over the UK, with those from France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, China and no fewer than five from the USA.
“And along with the bands come jazz fans from Europe and beyond as well as from everywhere imaginable in the UK.
“Audiences can enjoy great music in the environs of some of the region’s finest attractions which include museums, stately homes, shopping centres and stores, parks, city squares, on a canal boat or in a zoo – or even watch a jazz film.”
While a host of other big names will help to liven up the city’s streets, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions, food and drink will also go under the spotlight at the festival.
One of the smaller festivals within the jazz festival will be the Brasshouse Beer Festival running up to July 22 with more than 50 real ales on offer against a backdrop of jazz music.
There will also be a celebration of the tastes and sounds of the Caribbean at the Botanical Gardens.