The one-off Christmas jazz show that drew universal raves from critics and audiences last year will return to the Royal Albert Hall this December.

Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas – an all-star concert led by the acclaimed composer and trumpeter, and packed with star names – was one of the surprise smashes of the season, as a huge audience crammed in to watch the likes of Kurt Elling, Clarke Peters, Soweto Kinch, vocal group Accent and the show-stopping Vanessa Haynes.

Guy and co-compère, Clare Teal, will return with another cast of genre greats this year, performing a mixture of jazz classics, unearthed treasures and Christmas oddities that’ll put a swing in your step as the festive season kicks off.

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Guy Barker and Vanessa Haynes at Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas, 2016
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Clare Teal at Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas, 2016

Lucy Noble, Artistic Director of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “Guy’s show last year was like the best Christmas party you’ve ever been invited to: an evening of pure joy, with unforgettable guest stars, a dazzling setlist, and one of the tightest and most exciting jazz ensembles around.
“No-one can put a show on quite like Guy, and the return of his Big Band Christmas will be one of the highlights of this year’s programme. We can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with.”

The show was hailed as a triumph by critics, with the Financial Times, the Times, London Jazz and Kind of Jazz all calling for it become an annual tradition. John Fordham at the Guardian declared the show “enrapturing”, while Debbie Gilpin at Broadway World hailed it as “a Christmas cracker of a concert”, awarding it five stars.

Guy Barker said: “We were delighted by the reception to last year’s show, and – while you’re have to wait a little longer for full details of the line-up – I’m looking forward to welcoming some of my favourite musicians to the Hall for another fantastic, one-off Christmas concert.”

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Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas, 2016
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Guy Barker and Soweto Kinch at Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas, 2016

Barker’s bands have played at many of the world’s most prestigious events and venues, while he has worked with the likes of Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum and Van Morrison. He arranged music for the acclaimed 1999 film, The Talented Mr Ripley, and has been the musical director for the London Jazz Festival’s opening gala, Jazz Voice, for the past nine years.

He has released eight albums, two of them nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and presented more than a dozen series for BBC Radio 2 and 3, and the World Service.

Recent projects have included composing the music for the launch of the Cannes Film Festival, and working extensively with both Paloma Faith and Alison Balsom. He is also an Associate Composer for the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Talented Mr Ripley director Anthony Minghella said Barker was “that rare thing – a brilliant soloist, a born leader and a generous accompanist. He can play so your heart breaks or your head swivels.”

Other events confirmed for the Hall’s Christmas calendar include the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s legendary production of The Nutcracker, which dances onto the world’s most famous stage from 28 to 31 December.