The Brecon Jazz 2015 programme (August 7-9) is announced today, boasting the most international line-up in the event’s 31 year history, with tickets on sale from March 13 through

Big name American headliners, exclusive performances, intriguing crossovers and global artists from Scandinavia through Romania, Brittany and Catalonia to Brazil that reflect jazz music’s global reach, are all prominent features of this summer’s event in the beauty of the Brecon Beacons. New for 2015 is an additional venue, Brecon Elim Church, with a 200 capacity and a pedigree in staging concerts of its own, where the Western Power Kid Zone will engage local children in making music. Plus there will be a Brecon Jam late night opportunity for musicians to unwind and show off their improv skills.

Headline Acts

The Market Hall is the venue on Saturday August 8 for the iconic Dr. John, who brings to Wales his critically acclaimed Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch show - a tribute to New Orleans music legend Louis Armstrong. The six-time Grammy Award-winning musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is known throughout the world as the embodiment of New Orleans’ musical legacy, making this Satchmo performance one not to be missed. It will also involve a horn section of local musicians in Brecon for the festival.

Headlining Sunday night at Brecon Jazz is Robert Glasper who is fast bringing jazz to a whole new generation. The pianist, bandleader, composer and producer, Robert combines the language of the jazz mainstream with an edgy command of the urban music, bagging a Grammy for Black Radio 1 on Blue Note, and setting a new benchmark for jazz in the 21st century. At Brecon this August, Glasper returns to the acoustic piano trio format that characterised his early breakthrough.

Brecon Jazz operator Orchard holds the reins for its fourth year, with Director Pablo Janczur saying this as he announced the 2015 programme: “The journey of jazz is a fascinating and very human one, from its ancestral origins in Africa through its flourishing in the streets of New Orleans and across the world, and I believe this year we have assembled the most international programme in the history of this great festival. It’s music that keeps reinventing itself, and we want to represent that this summer. In the words of the great Louis Armstrong, whose spirit will be very much with us this year at Brecon: “if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

And that is just for starters.


Special Appearances

The Phronesis star is very much in the ascendant, with a reputation for spell-binding roller-coaster live performances and the Anglo-Scandinavian trio’s second MOBO Awards nomination for Best Jazz Act. Their trademark sound of catchy hooks, complex changes, crackling rhythms, and lithe but tight-knit grooves makes Jazzwise call them “one of the most exciting bands on the planet!”

Courtney Pine makes a welcome return to his beloved Brecon, presenting Song (The Ballad Book) in an intimate, stripped back performance of his favourite ballads featuring the great pianist Zoe Rahman in the sublime setting of the Chapter Stage @ Brecon Cathedral, Courtney’s favoured venue for the gig.

Pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Dave Holland have been major stalwarts on the jazz scene for years, with over a dozen Grammy Award nominations between them.

GoGo Penguin’s album V2.0 was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014, and this 21st century piano trio will treat us with their unique and exciting acoustic-electronica sound of skittering break-beats, telepathic interplay and a penchant for anthemic melody.

There is the serene beauty of the Grammy nominated trio of jazz voice Norma Winstone MBE, Italian pianist Glauco Venier and German reeds player Klaus Gesing, presenting music from their highly acclaimed ECM album Stories Yet to Tell.

Special performances include multiple award-winning composer, pianist and lifelong Dudley Moore fan, Neil Cowley returning to Theatr Brycheiniog with a special homage to the pianist, comedian and film star in what would have been his 80th birthday year in a show entitled The Other Side of Dudley Moore. (more)

With a special trio assembled for the project, Cowley captures the spirit of Dudley through his covers, originals and comedy numbers alongside chat, anecdotes and some special surprises.

Songs for Quintet features Stan Sulzmann, John Parricelli, Chris Laurence, Martin France and special guest Gwilym Simcock performing the music from the Kenny Wheeler 2015 ECM release after his death last year. The album was recorded at Abbey Road in 2013 with Stan, John Chris and Martin, with Gwilym joining the band for what promises to be a special tribute in honour of the great Canadian.

Former Perrier Jazz Vocalist of the Year winner, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Julia Biel blends vocals reminiscent of the greats of jazz's golden age with a poetic yet conversational lyrical style, a uniquely sharp perspective on contemporary life and love, and accessible chorus-led songwriting, The Independent describes Julia as “the best British vocalist to emerge in an age…”

Loose Tubes came back to their roots at Brecon Jazz 2014, and this year UK composer, saxophonist and bandleader Julian Argüelles brings Tetra to Brecon, with Kit Downes on piano, Sam Lasserson on bass, and James Maddren on drums.  

Partisans will thrill the Brecon audience with their ferociously energetic performance of tightly knit themes and great freedom founded on their years of playing together. Pigfoot’s wide-ranging repertoire swings from Verdi arias to Elvis hits, vintage Motown tunes and avant-trad excursions, all transformed by the band's spontaneity, panache and wry humour. 

To celebrate their twentieth anniversary, Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen bring their newest show The Swing's the Thing to Brecon, promising an unforgettable evening of swinging sounds, favourite songs, Latin jazz and gorgeous selections from the Great American and British Songbooks.

Scott Hamilton is a true favourite of Brecon fans having performed there for pretty much all of its 30 years, and he brings his great Quartet to the mid Wales town once again to reinforce the tradition of the classic jazz tenor saxophone.

MOBO award winners Sons of Kemet are four of the UK jazz scene’s brightest stars, whose electrifying live performance of rhythm from a tuba, saxophone and two drum kits spans jazz, rock, dub, Caribbean folk and traditional African diasporan history.

The Gareth Williams Power Trio brings an electrifying presence to a repertoire that ranges from melancholy ballads to biting funk, all with their customary intensity and integrity.

Global Reach

A feature of Brecon Jazz in recent years has been the World Wide Wales series, international collaborations set up by the festival artist-in-residence and accomplished Welsh musician and composer Huw Warren. This year Wales Meets Brazil with the grooves of São Paulo born percussionist and composer Adriano Adewale in a trio with bassist Dudley Phillips.

Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Adriano Adewale will engage an audience of children in a special KidZone in Elim Church with Catapluf’s Musical Journey through samba, jazz, and klezmer. This event is sponsored by Western Power Distribution.

Romanian Taraf de Haïdouks is a group of Gypsy “Lautari” (traditional musicians) whose show will burst with intense passion and overflowing energy.

The Timo Lassy Band features one of the leading artists on the vivid Helsinki jazz scene, composer and sax player Timo Lassy who arrives in Brecon with his quintet ensemble.

Barcelona’s Andrea Motis & Joan Chamorro bridge the musical generations with a catalogue of five albums and plaudits around the world, like this from John Fordham: “Motis has the kind of pearly, barely exhaled voice, paced with canny improv swerves and casual timing, from which jazz celebs are made.”

Best of Wales

Brecon Jazz has always been keen to promote Welsh jazz talent, and this year is no exception. Wales’ own Huw V Williams presents HON, an exciting new project by the double bassist and composer who is the latest recipient of the Jazz4Jed bursary in honour of Brecon’s great artistic director Jed Williams.

Huw’s original music is played by a phenomenal collective of London’s finest young improvisers featuring Laura Jurd on trumpet, Alam Nathoo on tenor saxophone, Elliot Galvin on accordion and Pete Ibbetson on drums.

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has always been a terrific source of talent, and the Cardiff-based college once again presents some of the best contemporary and curative jazz performance in Wales from students and new graduates. Junior Jazz are the young musicians attending the Junior Jazz Summer School at the RWCMD, some of them veterans at the age of 10!

Huw Warren’s Tails for Wales reunites the artist-in-residence with fellow Perfect Houseplant Mark Lockheart, multi-instrumentalist Mara Lamburn, and a Welsh rhythm section of Huw V Williams and Zoot Warren.

Nia Lynn’s Bannau Trio is very close to home, as Nia is a native of Brecon and former nominee for Jazz Musician of the Year at the Globe Music Foundation Awards. Capital City Jazz Orchestra is a 16 piece Big Band was formed in 2007 and features some of the finest jazz musicians in south Wales playing a fantastic mix of Big Band classics and modern chart hits.

In a regular series at Brecon’s Guildhall, The Guildhall Welsh Jazz Club Concerts curated by Brecon Jazz Club in association with Jazz Heritage Wales, Café Jazz Cardiff, North Wales Jazz, AberJazz (West Wales) and the Association Jazz Kreiz Breizh this year have as their theme The Jazz Guitar, with a Sunday line-up that includes Major Swing (Brittany) with guest Remi Harris; Martin Taylor Solo; and Deirdre Cartwright Band & Friends. These are sold as individual tickets, or as part of a special £35 Sunday Stroller ticket.



Additional Features

Further to the Brecon Jam club night session in Theatr Brycheiniog, a number of the musicians involved in the festival will be taking part in Masterclasses to pass on their expertise to the next generation of jazz musicians.

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