José lights a fire

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Jose Feliciano captivates his audience

Mid December saw the return of the Rye International Jazz Festival in St Mary’s church. The festival, now in its seventh year, attracted Aled Jones, KT Tunstall and the legend that is José Feliciano for the Christmas concerts.

Aled Jones gave a truly moving performance, especially when singing with a recording of his younger self and then later with a recording of his son, who has a brilliant young man’s voice. Aled was also joined by the Fidelity International Choir and mezzo soprano Danielle Thomas. Now, if you want to know about suffering for your art – Ms Thomas had driven herself down from Liverpool for the performance and then drove back that night to sing at a wedding the following lunchtime and a performance later that evening!

KT Tunstall, in a contrast of style to the previous evening, also gave a stunning performance of her own form of rock to a full church.

José Feliciano finished off the three nights, lighting our fire with a masterful performance, along with his band, in front of an initially slightly soggy audience who braved awful weather to get to the church. José has a polished but relaxed style with the audience, punctuating his skilled performance with stories about his quite remarkable life as a blind musical artist and cracking the odd gag along the way. He invited any fans who wished to come backstage after the performance to meet him – needless to say, there was a queue! The evening left a memory of a skilled artist, dedicated to his work but still, at the age of 73, strong in voice and clearly adored by his fans – his lack of assumed grandeur was refreshing in one so famous.

The Jazz Festival improves and matures with each year and continues to punch well above its weight – who can forget Nigel Kennedy’s performance – they probably had to nail the church roof back down after that one!

The planning for next year’s May and August weeks of the Jazz Festival is already well in hand with Sergio Mendes, Beverley Knight and Richard Thompson coming for the first time. Courtney Pine, Miloš Karadaglic and Mica Paris will return again. It is planned to hold some of the 2019 concerts at the stunning venue of Hever Castle.

Image Credits: Lyn Dutton.

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