The Watford Jazz Junction Festival, featuring a performer who twice played for Queen Elizabeth II and at Paul McCartney's wedding, is gearing up for another spectacular run from May 12 to 19.

Now in its third year, the festival is expected to continue its growth, with an estimated 4,000 people anticipated to attend from across the region.

Among the line-up this year are Ray Gelato & The Giants, who not only had the honour of performing for the Queen twice but also played at McCartney's wedding, and Xantoné Blacq, former piano player to the late Amy Winehouse.

Both are set to shake the Palace Theatre with electrifying performances on May 16.

The festival heats up on Sunday, May 12 with Ruth Fisher's Jazz Brunch at Halsey Hall.

Watford Observer: Imogen Ryall presents The Charles Mingus / Joni Mitchell SongbookImogen Ryall presents The Charles Mingus / Joni Mitchell Songbook (Image: Watford Jazz Junction)

Brightening up your late Sunday morning, Imogen Ryall presents The Charles Mingus / Joni Mitchell Songbook, a nod towards the legendary 1975 Joni Mitchell album, ‘Mingus’.

By Thursday, May 16, the action shifts to Watford Palace Theatre for the Gala Night Show.

Pump House Theatre takes the baton on May 17, with newcomers and Cuban-fusion specialists LoKkhi TeRra and ex-Fela Kuti keyboardist, Dele Sosimi, a storied figure of UK Afrobeat who is a Watford resident.

The energy continues into Saturday.

Pump House Colne River Room hosts 'the faces of UK jazz to come' in a matinee double bill featuring The Fergus Quill Trio and rising sax star Maddy Coombs with her trio on May 18.

Also that night, the Pump House Theatre curtains lift to welcome back familiar face and legendary saxophonist Jean Toussaint, a previous member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers who will lead an exemplary contemporary jazz performance.

They'll be supported by the Emile Hinton Trio, the distinguished winner of the Musicians’ Company Tina May Young Jazz Artist award in 2023.

Watford Observer: Xantoné Blacq, former pianist for Amy Winehouse, play at the Gala Show at the Palace Theatre on May 16Xantoné Blacq, former pianist for Amy Winehouse, play at the Gala Show at the Palace Theatre on May 16 (Image: Watford Jazz Junction)

Not leaving out fans of the unique intersection of Jazz and film, festival-goers can look forward to Fergus Quill, the Manchester bass player delving into the film music of spaghetti westerns.

The music-packed event doesn't stop there.

On the final day, a festival-style takeover is set to happen in all the six pubs in Oxhey Village, also including the Oxhey Bowls Club and a large stage on Watford Heath.

A total of 23 bands will provide a whole afternoon of free entertainment featuring renowned professionals and blossoming local talent.

Continuing its laudable vision of making jazz accessible, all shows are subsidised with ticket prices ranging from £7.50 to £27.50.

The final day remains entirely free to attend.

This year, the festival has scored a notable endorsement from Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club along with its principal sponsor Lit Fibre, the local broadband provider.

Further support has come from the Sovereign Network Group, the Arts Council, Jazz FM and more.

As a testament to its local roots and community focus, Watford Jazz Junction operates as a community interest company.

With its diverse line-up and community focus, the Watford Jazz Junction promises yet another unique jazz experience come May 12.

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