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Home / Things to Do / Brecon Jazz Festival 2012: Relive our coverage from sunny Mid Wales

Brecon Jazz Festival 2012: Relive our coverage from sunny Mid Wales

Brecon Jazz Festival 2012: Friday, August 10 – Sunday August 12

Welsh Countryside Month
Welsh Countryside Month

Thousands of people descended on the market town of Brecon at the weekend for the annual jazz festival – an event some feared might not happen.

This year’s event, which featured more than 22 concerts by artists ranging from Dionne Warwick to veteran jazz man Stan Tracey, was put together at short notice by Cardiff-based events company, Orchard, the newly-appointed operators of the festival. It proved to be a popular success.

In recent years the world-renowned festival has been on a knife-edge, struggling to survive amid economic and other woes.

But organisers of this year’s festival have pledged to ensure that it continues for years to come.

Pablo Janczur, director of Orchard, said he had received “positive feedback” from jazz fans about the festival and the concerts had been well-attended despite the short notice.

Click here for a festival review from our man Peter Collins

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He said: “We aim to recapture some of the magic that has made Brecon such a thrilling place to be on the second week of August over the decades. We have listened to local people and visitors and have brought some welcome colour and atmosphere back to the streets of Brecon.

“We can’t do everything overnight, but we appreciate how much Brecon Jazz means to so many people and are committed to delivering an outstanding event for years to come.”

Flick through our gallery from the Mid Wales festival

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Click here: Your guide to the Brecon Jazz Festival

Next page: Saturday report

Thousands of music fans soaked up the sun Saturday, as Brecon became jazz capital of the world for the weekend.

Visitors to the market-town’s annual festival enjoyed sizzling summer weather as much of Wales basked in sunshine.

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But the outlook is gloomy for next week with wet weather, which hampered the early summer, set to return.

Saturday, jazz fans revelled in the sunny streets of Brecon as they were treated to a colourful variety of street performers, musicians and singers.

A performance of The Drum Machine Plays The Battlemarch of Consumerism provided some early afternoon entertainment at a free open air performance.

The festival, which counts former First Minister Rhodri Morgan among its biggest fans, began on Friday and by the time it finishes today more than 25 bands, singers and musicians will have played in the three main venues in the town.

While the jazz festival was scaled back this year, it still featured a strong line-up, including soul diva Dionne Warwick and former Cream drummer Ginger Baker on Friday night.

Yesterday temperatures soared to 25C, with clear skies providing the perfect weather for festival-goers.

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Speaking for festival operators Orchard, Tim Powell said the weekend had been a huge success.

“I would say we’ve had more than 30,000 people in Brecon over the weekend,” he said.

“Dionne added a touch of stardust to Friday night with her sellout concert at the Market Hall in front of 800 people.

“The weather has been fantastic for us and there’s been a lovely family atmosphere, everyone seems to be having a great time. It’s been a massive success so far.”

Brecon Jazz Festival has run alongside the Brecon Fringe Festival, run by local pubs and bands.

Roger Smith, owner of the Clarence Inn, said the Fringe festival had added to the atmosphere.

“We’ve got a packed pub with plenty of live music so I doubt we’ll be getting much sleep,” he said.

“The weather’s been fantastic and there’s a really nice family atmosphere, with a lot of people sat out in our beer garden.

“We have a lot of the fringe bands playing, 15 in total across the weekend and the place is rammed.

“Compared with previous years we’re just as busy, if not busier.”

Jamie Tulloch, 29, who travelled down from Birmingham for the jazz festival said he couldn’t have wished for better weather.

“It has been marvellous,” he said. “I make the journey down here every year and although it’s not as big as it has been, it’s as good as ever.

“It makes such a difference when the weather behaves. The family and I have been wandering the streets with an ice cream.

“We’ve had a pretty miserable summer so far so I don’t think many people would have thought we’d get this weather for the festival.

“Some of the performances have been incredible. For me, you won’t find a better jazz festival anywhere in the UK.”

While the festival in Brecon soaked up the sun, large parts of Wales enjoyed a hot Saturday with temperatures reaching 23C in Rhyl and 24C in Aberystwyth.

But the good weather looks to be short-lived with forecasters predicting a miserable week ahead for much of Wales.

The forecast predicts rainfall will put a dampener on the summer holidays for the foreseeable future.

The high pressure which has produced warm and fine weather over much of the country during the last couple of days is expected to slowly drift away to the east.

Met Office forecaster Mark Wilson said: “Unfortunately Saturday will be the best Wales has seen for a while. The next week looks very unsettled.

“A band of showers will roll in from the West on Sunday, and we can expect more of the same for the rest of the week.

“After the settled period we had last week, this looks like it will be much wetter.

“Most of Wales will experience showers on Monday and Tuesday, with more sustained periods of rain set for the rest of the week.

“On Wednesday, the showers will be slow-moving as the winds drop so there could be prolonged spells of rain.

“This unsettled weather looks like it will last until next weekend and, quite possibly, for some time after that.”

Did you go to the Brecon Jazz Festival 2012? Let us know about it in the comments box below and click here to send us your pictures and videos

Next page: A festival review from our man Peter Collins

Reports of the imminent death of the world-renowned Brecon Jazz Festival have been greatly exaggerated.

The long-running event was very much alive and kicking at the weekend when thousands of jazz fans descended on the market town for the annual celebration of jazz in all its aspects.

Even just a few months ago there was doubt that we would have a festival this year, but Cardiff-based events management company Orchard stepped in to provide what turned out to be a fine weekend of music making.

In some ways the festival attempted to go back to its roots, with the fringe festival playing an important role, although we could have done with more music on the streets.

The event, in what organisers called “an interim year” was an eclectic mix of jazz styles with everything from veteran jazz man Stan Tracey to the up-and-coming YolanDa Brown.

A concert by the jazz department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama demonstrated that the future of jazz in Wales is safe in the hands of the staff and students there.

An excellent concert by Food – saxophonist Iain Bellamy and Norwegian percussionist Thomas Strønen – was certainly food for thought as they gave two “stretches” of improvised music.

The gig by trio Libero, led by saxophonist Andy Sheppard, was satisfying enough but too often lacked the imagination and depth one might expect from musicians of this calibre.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the concert by Lighthouse. It was brimful of musical intelligence, wit, and complexity that had pianist Gwilym Simcock, saxophonist Tim Garland and percussionist Asaf Sirkis at the top of their games.

Saxophonist and clarinetist Alan Barnes provided a simply delightful and entertaining concert and demonstrated why he remains an influential figure on the British jazz scene after more than 30 years.

Importantly, the weekend featured masterclasses and workshops and an event bringing together scores of saxophonists in a celebration of the Olympics.

Big names like Claire Martin and Dionne Warwick – hardly a jazz musician – helped put bums on seats but there were plenty of lesser known artists to give spice and variety to an excellent festival.

An interim year this may have been for Brecon Jazz, but it was never less than hugely enjoyable and a fine tribute to Brecon Jazz co-founder, the late Jed Williams.

It certainly augured well for a bright future.

Peter Collins

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