LANCASHIRE lass Emma Johnson, one of the rising stars of British jazz, is coming home to launch the 2024 Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Festival at St Mary’s Centre, Clitheroe, on May 3.

And a splendid line-up of music awaits visitors to the Ribble Valley jamboree, with musicians and jazz enthusiasts from all over the world heading to the town over the May Bank holiday weekend.

Band leader Emma, from Clayton-le-Moors, fronts her own ensemble, Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat.

And the ace saxophonist admits she is a huge fan of the Ribble Valley festival, that this year runs from May 3-6.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play all over England and the Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Festival is my favourite, it is always a lovely vibe,” said Emma, now based in Leeds. “The people behind the festival are very knowledgeable and love their music, so I’ve made a lot of friends there.

“I worked with local band Elbow Room as part of International Women’s Day at last year’s festival, so it is a bit like coming home.

“Also, Gravy Boat appeared online for the festival during the Covid pandemic, but this will be our first physical appearance, so we are all incredibly excited.”

Previously, the festival has attracted a host of international stars, trombonist Dennis Rollins, Courtney Pine, James Taylor, Arun Ghosh, Jacqui Dankworth and Norwegian Jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, with the Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues festival now firmly established as one of the most popular jazz celebrations in the land.

Gary Ward, the festival programmer, said: “We’ve some of the brightest new talents in jazz performing at this year’s festival.”

He added: “It is astonishing the international names who’ve performed at the festival.

“Clitheroe has become an important regional centre for emerging musicians to play concerts and the work of the Ribble Valley Jazz Festival has played a huge part in this.

“Last year was amazing, attracting thousands of people to Clitheroe.

“Locals said that they had never seen the town so busy and 2024 promises to be another very special festival.”

Clitheroe always puts the bunting out for the Saturday jazz party, and there’s a must-see concert, also at St Mary’s Centre, featuring violinist and composer Olivia Moore.

Olivia’s ensemble - Unfurl - melds jazz, Indian and the pulse of Arabic rhythms.

Inspired by nature and Buddhist ideals, Unfurl transport you on a transcendental journey of sonic sound and harmonic depth.

corto.alto is the moniker of Glasgow-based composer and producer Liam Shortall, who has risen through the ranks of the Tommy Smith Jazz Orchestra and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra as a trombonist.

Prepare to be amazed, though, as corto.alto challenges the boundaries of contemporary jazz, fusing a heady mix of improvisation, electronic production, broken beat bounce and bass-heavy dub.

Sunday is traditionally one of the most popular days of the festival and Ancient Infinity Orchestra will be in town to provide the headline act at the Grand.

Led by double bassist and composer Ossy Moysey, the 14-piece ensemble are signed up to Matthew Halsall’s Gondwana music label and have recently released their debut album River of Light to rave reviews.

The rotating line-up includes drums, two bassists, keyboards, harp, violin, cello, two tenors, alto, oboe, flute and percussion, so this is a concert not to be missed.

The Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra headline on Bank Holiday Monday, with an all-star cast including jazz guitarist Mike Walker and ace saxophonist Andy Schofield.

Nikki will also be directing a workshop with jazz pianist Trish Ferrarin and local musicians Elbow Room during the day.

Festival programmer Gary Ward added: “We’d like to thank our sponsor James’ Places, and all the venues and other people who support us so loyally every year and make this festival so special.”

Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Festival, May 3 to May 6. Tickets are on sale now from the Grand, Clitheroe on 01200 421599 or