Brecon Jazz News….

The programme for Brecon Jazz 2012 has just been announced, and the good news is a) The Festival is going ahead and b) that I have been asked to be artist in residence! For this this year’s festival this means that I can plan some international collaborations, and also give some input as a programming consultant. Brecon Jazz is central to both the Jazz scene in Wales and also as an important date in the UK Jazz festival diary, and we all look forward to its continuing success…..

My international collaborative series will be called “World Wide Wales” and will feature new and exciting combinations of cutting edge artists. For the opening concert (in Brecon Cathedral on 10/8/12) I have invited Norwegian drummer Thomas Stronen and Austrian bassist Peter Herbert. Both are hugely creative musicians and real innovators on their respective instruments. Thomas also plays the following evening with Food (with Iain Ballamy) and Peter will be presenting a masterclass the following day for bassists and composers. For full details of the programme www.breconjazz.com

You can also buy tickets from the website….Lets all help to spread the word about this major event in the Welsh Jazz Calendar!

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Here’s some basic info about the festival organisers and main artists, more to follow soon!!

PRESS RELEASE

BRECON JAZZ 2012 LINE UP ANNOUNCED BY NEW OPERATOR

Orchard, the new operator of the world famous Brecon Jazz festival has announced a compact and powerful programme for the August event, an interim year given the short timescales involved, which brings the festival back into the town of Brecon with a sprinkling of star names, Jazz favourites, emerging and Welsh talent, Jazz Club nights, innovative collaborations and a party atmosphere returning to the streets of the beautiful Mid Wales town (www.breconjazz.com).

Friday August 10 brings the truly legendary voice of five-time Grammy Award winner Dionne Warwick celebrating 50 years in the business and 100 million records sold for a concert in the festival’s iconic Market Hall. Another big name gracing the Market Hall stage this summer is vibraphonist/vocalist Roy Ayers, the respected Jazz/R&B artist and renowned as the Godfather of Neo-soul making an exclusive UK appearance. Welsh pianist Huw Warren is involved this year as artist-in-residence, in collaborations with Thomas Stronen and Peter Herbert, and Jazz fans can look forward to performances by the likes of Neil Yates, Lighthouse, Trio Libero; Neil Cowley; Claire Martin; YolanDa Brown, Stan Tracey; Bobby Wellins; Alan Barnes, Kit Downes; Ginger Baker and many more.

Orchard director Pablo Janczur worked with Huw Warren to put the programme together. Pablo said: “Orchard was appointed by the Arts Council of Wales at the beginning of May, so this month has been pretty hectic in trying to get the artists we wanted within the timescale. We aimed to recover the Mojo that people feel Brecon has lost in recent years, and hopefully we’ve put together a bill that is attractive to both a local audience in Wales and to the legions of travelling fans who have made Brecon Jazz such a special, and economically beneficial event over the years. Given the time constraints, 2012 was always going to be an interim year, but we have well over 20 gigs in the classic Brecon town venues, with colour and atmosphere returning to the streets of this beautiful part of Wales.”

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(Brecon Jazz/2)

In addition to the Market Hall, there will be concerts in Theatr Brycheiniog, emerging artists and home grown Welsh talent will largely perform in the Guildhall, and there will be special events in Brecon Cathedral. The town centre will be the location for some spectacular street entertainment, and the Brecon Fringe is running an extensive programme of music in bars, venues and around the town throughout the weekend. There is even a commemorative concert for Jed Williams, the founder and Artistic Director of Brecon Jazz throughout much of its 28 year history, promoting Jazz4Jed, a bursary set up in his name to benefit Jazz talent in Wales, along with workshops held in Christ College.

Pablo Janczur again: “Brecon Jazz is a heritage brand with a great international reputation. If we can get close to recapturing the values, spirit and magic of the heyday of Brecon Jazz, we’ll have done our job. The musical line-up is exciting, we’ve had a great amount of goodwill from the town, the County and the Festival Fringe, so we’re now all set for a fantastic weekend in August.”

Tickets for all shows will be available from http://www.breconjazz.com – the site will be live from 9am Thurs 7th June and tickets on sale from 9th June.. The box office telephone number is 01874 611622 (Theatr Brycheiniog) and the 24 Hour telephone booking Number is 0844 858 8521.

All festival information can be found on http://www.breconjazz.com

Editor’s Notes

Highlights of Brecon Jazz 2012 include:

World Wide Wales: Huw Warren, Thomas Strønen, Peter Herbert Friday 10th August: 18.00: Brecon Cathedral: WOMEX
A unique international collaboration devised by Brecon Jazz 2012 artist in residence Huw Warren, one of the most eclectic composers / musicians in the UK, with the Welsh pianist teaming up with some of the most creative and innovative players on the international jazz scene. Thomas Strønen is at the forefront of the vibrant Norwegian scene on drums, percussion and electronics, working solo and with Meadow, Humcrush and Food (duo with UK saxophonist Iain Ballamy on Saturday at Brecon), and eclectic Austrian bassist Peter Herbert

Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion: Friday 10th August: 18.30: Theatr Brycheiniog
Legendary rock drummer, Ginger Baker, renowned for his work with Cream and Blind Faith, teams up with tenor saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth, and African percussionist Abass Dodoo for some progressive jazz originals in a Thelonious Monk style with exciting African rhythms.

Neil Yates: Five Countries: Friday 10th August: 20.00: Brecon Guildhall
Trumpeter Neil’s music has been described by Jazz UK as “fresh, vibrant and original,” as “a rare sound innovator” and “a discreet virtuoso” by The Guardian. Five Countries was released in 2011 on Cardiff’s Edition Records to great acclaim. Brecon Jazz 2012 will see Yates performs evocative music from the album in an intimate trio with Hungarian/Romanian acoustic guitarist Zsolt Bende and Jim Hart on vibraphone and percussion.

Kit Downes Quintet Friday 10th August: 21.00: Brecon Cathedral
Described by The Observer as “Everyone’s favourite young pianist… unpretentiously brilliant and full of subtle touches,” Kit’s debut album ‘Golden’ received a Mercury Prize nomination, he is a gifted composer and sparkling improviser, whose music has a cinematic, storytelling quality that draws the listener in.

Dionne Warwick Friday 10th August 2012 : 20.30 : Brecon Market Hall
Scintillating, soothing and sensual best describe the familiar and legendary voice of this cornerstone of American pop music and culture. Warwick’s career this year celebrates 50 years, and has established her as an international music icon and concert act, with more than sixty charted hit songs and over 100 million records sold. She began singing professionally in 1961 after being discovered by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. She had her first hit in 1962 with “Don’t Make Me Over,” and followed up with classics such as “Walk on By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart” and “Say a Little Prayer.”

Jazz Club @ The Market Hall: DJ Jazzman Gerald: Friday 10th August: 23.00
Gerald runs Jazzman Records, and DJs to packed dance floors around the world.

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Presents Big Band with Paula Gardiner, Neil Yates and Martin France: Saturday 11th August: 13.00: Theatr Brycheiniog
The RWCMD in Cardiff is at the heart of the emerging Welsh Jazz scene. Introduced by the Head of Jazz, Paula Gardiner, this special concert features large and small ensembles and musicians you will be hearing a lot about in the future. The performance includes the RWCMD Big Band directed by Teddy Smith, and guest performances from Neil Yates on trumpet and Martin France on drums.

Indigo Kid: Saturday 11th August: 15.00: Brecon Guildhall
“An encounter between two generations of musicians that makes us think back to how much there is to discover in the British scene.” All About Jazz. Indigo Kid’s leader is guitarist/composer Dan Messore, a player with a warm, full, tone and a talent for moderately paced but fluid single note runs. He shares the frontline with tenor saxophonist Trish Clowes, whilst rhythmic foundations are provided by bassist Aidan Thorne and drummer James Maddren.

The quartet has an acute sense of dynamics and pace, giving Messore’s compositions a vibrancy and emotional connection that heightens their impact.

Trio Libero: Sat 11th August: 18.00: Brecon Cathedral
“The coolly moody tunes seep through your speakers like a series of poetic mists. Performing the graceful trick of being both airy and weighty, it’s a wintry treat.” The Metro. Trio Libero is British saxophonist Andy Sheppard, French bassist Michel Benita and British drummer Seb Rochford. From Rochford’s part in Polar Bear to Benita’s collaborations with Archie Shepp and Lee Konitz, Trio Libero is shaped by three leading individuals from today’s jazz scene.

Lighthouse Saturday 11th August: 19.00: Theatr Brycheiniog Jazz4Jed
The FT said: “Three remarkable musicians with an uncanny unity of thought and feeling. Virtuosity may be taken for granted nowadays, but this music demands it.” The hugely successful trio punch deep into exciting groove-based tunes, inspired Celtic rhythms and an eclectic mix of Chick Corea, Bill Bruford, Yellowjackets, John Coltrane, and DJ Carl Cox.
Grammy winner Tim Garland and Barclaycard Mercury nominated pianist Gwilym Simcock are two of the most outstanding composers of our time in both Jazz and classical genres and are regarded as among the very best in the world on their respective instruments. They are joined by Asaf Sirkis on drums and percussion. This concert is a tribute concert to Jed Williams, one of the founders and the long-time Artistic Director of the Brecon Jazz festival, and a fundraiser for Jazz4Jed, the bursary established in his name to help Jazz talent in Wales.

Paula Gardiner Trio: Saturday 11th August: 20.00: Brecon Guildhall
“… a remarkably wide sonic palette for a trio.”  The Jazzman.com One of Britain’s most lyrical and melodic bass players, Paula Gardiner is also an accomplished classical guitarist and flautist. Her presence on the Welsh Jazz scene and with Brecon in particular, has been an inspiring one, having played at Brecon Jazz since 1986, Paula also heads up the Jazz course at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and is the Honorary President of the Swansea-based organisation, Women in Jazz.

Roy Ayers Saturday 11th August: 21.00: Market Hall
Vibraphonist/vocalist Roy Ayers is among the best-known, most-loved and respected jazz/R&B artists on the music-scene today. Now in his fourth decade in the music business, Ayers, known as the Godfather of Neo-soul, continues to bridge the gap between generations of music lovers. His music has been sampled by industry heavyweights, including Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac, and Ice Cube.

Claire Martin Saturday 11th August: 21.30 : Brecon Cathedral
The New York Times said of Claire: “In an era when young jazz singers tend to sound far too much like their idols, there is no mistaking the voice of Claire Martin who combines a cool, burnished tone with the ear of a born musician”. Claire’s trademark cocktail of standards, sass and swing has her marked down as one of the finest female British jazz singer of her generation, and she is the voice of BBC Radio 3’s weekly Jazz show ‘Jazz Line Up’.

Jazz & Blues Club @ The Market Hall: Brett Mclaughlan and DJs: Saturday 11th August: 23.00
Up and coming Blues guitar sensation Brett Mclaughlan and dancing to DJs until the early hours.

Food: Sunday 12th August: 14.00: Brecon Cathedral
Jazzwise called Food: “A stylistic match made in minimalist heaven.” The groundbreaking group features British saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Norwegian percussionist Thomas Strønen creating thought provoking improvised music of great depth and beauty, incorporating juxtapositions of sound, space and texture.
YolanDa Brown Sunday 12th August 2012 : 14.30 : Theatr Brycheiniog
“An animated saxophonist who sounds as if she listens to Sonny Rollins as much as to the soul-sax tradition, Brown has a big, lustrous sound and considerable subtlety.” The Guardian.
Double MOBO Award winning saxophonist Yolanda is one of the most exciting, in-demand live performers, widely regarded as the emerging “voice” of mainstream Jazz in the UK. She has toured with The Temptations, Errol Brown, Courtney Pine and Diana Krall and collaborated with artists such as Mica Paris, Soweto Kinch and as part of Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

The Joe Webb Trio: Sunday 12th August: 15.00: Brecon Guildhall
Fronted by young Welsh jazz pianist, Joe Webb, the band was formed in 2009 when Joe met bassist Huw V Williams and drummer Lloyd Haines whilst studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The band have played around the country through various different projects and earlier this year they recorded for the first time featuring all Joe’s compositions on an album called ‘Night Song’.

Alan Barnes Duo Sunday 12th August 2012: 13.30: Brecon Cathedral
Jazz Review said of Alan: “Barnes underlines his position as a key figure on the UK scene. He is a fluent, inventive improviser on a number of horns who can swing with the best of them.” Alan came to our attention through the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the Jazz Renegades, and for a decade ran the Pizza Express Modern Jazz Sextet with Gerard Prescencer and Dave O’Higgins. He has worked with the leading big bands, and is a member of Guy Barker’s Orchestra. In 2001 and 2006 he received the prestigious BBC Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award. He appears at Brecon with long-time collaborator, the pianist and composer Dave Newton, who has been voted Best Jazz Pianist six times in the British Jazz Awards.

Stan Tracey & Bobby Wellins Play Monk Sunday 12th August: 16.30: Brecon Cathedral
“Stan really is a national treasure. In his 80’s, he’s playing better than ever.” Jazzwise.
The collaboration between Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins, which began in the early Sixties, has produced some of the finest jazz this country has ever heard, including the classics ‘Under Milk Wood Suite’, ‘Alice In Jazz Land’, and a host of other recordings since then.

Stan Tracey & Bobby Wellins, as part of a quartet featuring Andy Cleyndert and Clark Tracey, will perform the music of Thelonious Monk, a major influence on them, in tribute at the majestic Brecon Cathedral.

Brecon Jazz Club: Sunday August 12th: 17.30: Brecon Guildhall
Brecon Jazz Club presents Cardiff University Big Band, led by Jeremy Meddows-Taylor. The band comprises fine new Jazz talent from the university scene, performing challenging, high quality Jazz across South Wales and the UK.

The Soweto Kinch Trio:  Sunday 12th August: 18.30: Theatr Brycheiniog
The Guardian said of Soweto: “It’s a clever and entertaining juxtaposition of idioms that kicks pure Jazz and authentic rap into a brave new world.” Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians to hit the British Jazz and Hip Hop scenes in recent years, whose appeal traverses the underground and mainstream audiences of both genres.
Fortunate in counting Courtney Pine OBE and Gary Crosby as mentors, as a saxophone player, Soweto rapidly developed his own rich, energetic and dynamic sound. Soweto’s ‘Conversations With The Unseen’ won a Mercury Music Prize and he has earned a clutch of awards over the years, including the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 2003.

Black Mountain Jazz: Sunday August 12th: 20.00: Brecon Guildhall
Black Mountain Jazz presents The Sarah Gillespie Quartet featuring Kit Downes (piano), eclectic Jazz sounds with lyrics influenced by Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Bessie Smith. The quartet features pianist Kit Downes, who appears elsewhere on the Brecon programme. The quartet also has the versatile and creative Enzo Zirilli on drums and the great rhythmic drive of Ben Bastin on double bass.

The Neil Cowley Trio Sunday 12th August: 20.30: Brecon Cathedral
“A smart splicing of punchy themes and chord–‐belting, rock–‐piano climaxes… it’s hard to resist its eager warmth, and invitation to dance.” The Guardian. A dazzling composer, pianist Cowley creates deeply engaging, and dynamic music that journeys between poetic and poignant, pomp and splendour to powerful rip-roaring riffs. It is instrumental music that references Debussy and Steve Reich as much as Spiritualized and Arcade Fire, and is powerful enough to break down standard perceptions of genre. Its sheer emotion and energy touch lovers of all music.

For further information, please contact: Tim Powell, Orchard, 02920 590334 tim@thinkorchard.com

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4 thoughts on “Brecon Jazz News….

  1. Hi Huw congratulations on your opportunites to play at the Brecon Jazz Festival this year. However I feel I must take issue with your comment that the festival is “central to jazz in Wales” as hardly any Welsh musicians have been offered the chance to play there apart from the usual suspects from the RWCMD. What about all the musicians who are prepared to play gigs for hardly any money week in week out all year to support local venues and promoters help keep jazz alive? This a once yearly chance for ALL Welsh musicians to obtain a fairly paid gig and expose their music and skill to a wider audience base. Does the lack of Welsh talent in the programme indicate we are not good enough to play there? This festival has lost it’s individual flavour and until street music and Welsh players are present will not regain this.

  2. Hi Ian – Thanks for your comment. I think Brecon is, and should be, many different things to many people. On one hand it is an international festival but at the same time it is also a celebration of progressive UK (and specifically Welsh) Jazz, as well as being a showcase for mainstream national and local players. In combination with the Fringe events, I hope that this will again be the case this year. In a very small festival this year of 24 gigs, 6 of them involve Welsh artists (or artists now living in Wales). For the record, I was asked by the new operators to create an international collaboration series, suggest “new and emerging” Welsh bands, and co-ordinate the educational side of the Festival. I think that a lot of us would like to see a return to street music and the stroller ticket, but logistical difficulties (the policing costs etc) make this unlikely whoever is running the festival.

  3. “Does the lack of Welsh talent in the programme indicate we are not good enough to play there?”
    Ian’s question is one that many people in Wales have been asking for a while. There are many talented and exciting jazz artists within the Principality who have been overlooked year after year. It seems that if you’re based in Wales but you’re not a student or tutor at RWCMD then your chances of playing the festival are zero. This, I’m sure, is extremely disheartening to many musicians and fans of Welsh jazz. It’s as good as saying that Wales cannot produce musicians worthy of the festival. Of course it’s understood that commercial interests are important, but artistically it seems strange that Dionne Warwick, for example, is on the bill. It would be a stretch to describe her as a jazz artist as it would be a stretch to describe many previous headline acts as jazz. And yet Brecon continues to call itself a “jazz” festival. Previous headline acts have included Marc Almond, Cerys Matthews, Buddy Guy, and Amy Winehouse. These are not jazz artists. How sad for all the hard working, dedicated and enthusiastic Welsh jazz musicians who must see Brecon Jazz as little more than a corporate version of its former self. It seems that the Brecon Fringe and Torfaen Jazz now represent the true spirit of the festival as it was originally intended – jazz music for the people of Wales and beyond without exorbitant and exclusive pricing, including the best of local, national and international talent.

  4. Surely the fringe and the main festival can exist side by side? Would be interested to know your suggestions for “talented and exciting jazz artists within the Principality” as well. I’m not here to defend the artistic policy of the current festival: but in general, as welsh musicians,promoters,jazz educators,jazz fans etc, we should be talking to each other.

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