Pairing will provide sweet music at Rye Jazz Festival

Joe Stilgoe picture
Joe Stilgoe picture

Emerging jazz star Joe Stilgoe will be joining the First Lady of British Jazz Claire Martin in one of the highlights of this year’s Rye Jazz Festival.

This week the Observer spoke to both Joe and Claire ahead of their performance at the George on Monday August 25.

Claire was Awarded the OBE in 2012 for her services to British Jazz. For her it is a significant return to Rye, and particularly the venue, as her husband proposed to her at the George Hotel.

Joe will be hotfooting it down to Rye from the Edinburgh Festival.

Joe comes from a solid musical background - his father is pianist and entertainer Richard Stilgoe and his mother the opera singer Annabel Hunt.

That grounding gave him the advantage of overcoming the fear of performing but he admits that music is still a journey that surprises him at every turn.

Joe seems at home performing material from the Great American Songbook or reinterpreting the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset as a poignant ballad.

He has performed at the prestigious Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

Joe’s musical relationship with Claire has been a defining moment in his career.

“I always love playing with Claire,” he says.

Joe has even written a song ‘Lost For Words’ for Claire’s new album Classical Source, due to be released in September. The album breaks new ground for Claire by featuring a cello quartet.

Claire said: “When you have been singing professionally for 27 years it is always important to do fresh things to maintain the interest. I have to interest myself.”

Joe and Claire will play in an atmospheric jazz club setting at the George and both said they are really excited to be coming to Rye.

Rye International Jazz Festival runs from August 21 - 25 over the bank holiday weekend . For full details of the programme visit