February 26 2014




Brecon Jazz 2014 is the 30th anniversary year of the world-famous festival, and in tribute, the Wales-based operator Orchard has produced a programme featuring the top musical talent of today. Recent Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter, and BRIT Award nominee Laura Mvula join stellar names such as Burt Bacharach and Jean Toussaint, along with big Jazz names such as Loose Tubes, and Warren Vaché that hark back to the origins of the festival (August 7-10 tickets from February 28:

This summer’s special celebratory festival adds another venue, the Captain’s Walk, that is synonymous with Brecon’s heyday, and this summer it will be jumping to the sounds of Beats & Pieces, and Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio, amongst others. The Brecon line-up also includes a tribute to Stan Tracey, who died late last year, Gipsy Jazz legend Fapy Lafertin, Trad Jazz favourite Chris Barber, Don Weller and David Newton, and major contemporary names Polar Bear, Kairos 4Tet, and Troyka.

Pablo Janczur, director of Orchard who recently won the Live UK Regional Promoter of the Year Award, said: “We’ve been building momentum to the 30th year since we took over in 2012, and so it’s exciting to be able to announce some very big international artists, a ‘new’ venue that was a longtime festival favourite, and hopefully give Brecon’s wide and diverse Jazz audience a great sense of anticipation for what lies ahead in August.”

Following in the stellar footsteps of Dionne Warwick in 2012, one of the true greats of 20th century popular music Burt Bacharach will take to the stage of the town’s Market Hall to lead the audience through the catalogue of his renowned compositions that have formed the soundtrack to so many lives over the past 60 years, and inspired Jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and Stan Getz.

The singer–songwriter, composer, record producer and pianist is a six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner, beloved for classic hits such as The Look of Love; Anyone Who Had a Heart; Alfie; Walk on By; Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head; and Make it Easy on Yourself amongst his 73 Top 40 hits in the US and 52 Top 40 hits in the UK for the likes of Dionne Warwick, The CarpentersDusty SpringfieldBobbie GentryJackie DeShannon, and Tom Jones.

There are returns for artists such as trumpeter Warren Vaché, who appears in mid Wales in August with Alan Barnes, and renowned local band Mike Harries and the Root Doctors who both played at the first ever Brecon Jazz in 1984. Loose Tubes reunite for their own 30th anniversary this year after a hiatus of some 24 years. Under multi-instrumentalist and composer Django Bates, the 21-strong big band played the Brecon festival in 1985, and will feature familiar names such as Django Bates, Iain Ballamy, Julian Argüelles, Martin France, Chris Batchelor, Eddie Parker and Ashley Slater for their appearance in Brecon.

This is what Django had to say about Brecon’s heritage: “As Loose Tubes took to the stage in the open square as the finale to the second Brecon Jazz Festival in 1985, the Bishop began speaking to the crowd. He had a lot to say so we quietly introduced a gospel vamp beneath his words, inspiring new heights of exhortation. We built up the intensity together until he was overwhelmed and the gig took off. Walking around Brecon last year brought equally strong memories of wild times with Dudu Pukwana, seeing Garbarek for the first time, marveling at Jed Williams' never-ending supply of Dobell's Jazz record shop bags, and of formative performances with contemporaries such as Arguelles, Ballamy and Loose Tubes, to an always refreshingly responsive audience. The invitation to bring Loose Tubes back, 29 years on, is a tribute to the ethos behind Brecon Festival which from the very beginning has been unpretentious, stylistically broad-minded, genuinely friendly, and welcoming to all.”

Brecon Jazz 2014 tickets are available from February 28 on

Editor’s Notes

Brecon Jazz came from an original idea in the autumn of 1983 by the Brycheiniog Association for the Arts, and the following summer “New Orleans beneath the Beacons” was born, since when it has hosted some of the luminaries of global music such as Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Stephane Grappelli, Cleo Laine and Amy Winehouse. In the past 30 years over a million people from across the world have flocked to the town, bringing millions of pounds into the mid Wales economy and introducing the area to a whole new audience.

Brecon Jazz 2014 includes:

Recent Grammy Award winning Jazz singer Gregory Porter plays Brecon for the first time this summer. His debut album, Water was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2010, and he was also a member of the original Broadway cast of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues. Be Good (Lion's Song) was nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. His third album Liquid Spirit, his first on Blue Note Records, recently won the Best Jazz Vocal Album award at the 2014 Grammies.

One of the real finds of 2013, soul singer/songwriter and Mercury Prize and BRIT Award nominee Laura Mvula won Best Female Act and Best R&B or Soul Artist at the 2013 MOBO Awards, achieved a Top 10 debut album for Sing To The Moon, and was highly acclaimed for her haunting vocal performances, including the Pyramid Stage at last year’s Glastonbury.

Burum features some of Wales's most creative Jazz and folk musicians: mixing these ingredients together to create their unique and extraordinary sound, with a repertoire drawn from Welsh traditional music, adapted and re-imagined for a modern Jazz sextet.

Christine Tobin - one of the great interpreters of modern popular song salutes the legendary Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen in her performance ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’, which won the ‘Herald Angel Award’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013. 

Her band features some of the UK's most acclaimed musicians: Huw Warren accordion & piano, Phil Robson guitar, Dave Whitford double bass and from Brazil percussionist Adriano Adewale.

"Tobin's new version of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows is stunning. ....there is a rapport between the players that goes beyond everyday musicianship, working on subliminal and emotional levels." 

The Guardian

Fapy Lafertin Quartet - the most famous European Gypsy musician since Django Reinhardt, Fapy Lafertin has a global reputation as one of the world’s leading acoustic musicians. The much loved Manouche guitarist from Belgium made his Brecon bow in 1985, only to return on several occasions.

The Guildhall Welsh Jazz Club Concerts: Sunday 10th August

Following the success of last year’s ‘Wales Jazz International’, Brecon Jazz Festival once again hands over The Guildhall for a day of eclectic Jazz, curated by Brecon Jazz Club in association with AberJazz and SpanJazz (West Wales) as well as Torfaen Jazz, Swansea Jazzland, Rhondda Jazz, Pontypool Jazz, Black Mountain Jazz, Cardiff Jazz Society, Jazz Heritage Wales, Porthcawl Jazz and North Wales Jazz.

Artists featured include:


Lady Nade & The Silhouettes

The Remi Harris Gypsy Jazz Project

Jim Barber Trio Meets Bluesy Susie

John Taylor Trio - one of contemporary Jazz's great performers, pianist John Taylor has partnered saxophonists Alan Skidmore and John Surman, was accompanist to Cleo Laine and later became a member of Ronnie Scott’s quintet, before forming Azimuth. He worked with groups led by Jan Garbarek, Enrico Rava, Gil Evans, Lee Konitz and Charlie Mariano, but it is with his Trio featuring bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Martin France that John Taylor comes to Brecon for a rare performance on the festival’s 30th anniversary.

Michael Wollny Trio - Michael Wollny’s trademark unpredictability and an unquenchable thirst for invention and reinvention have set him apart from his peers. One of the world’s most unique pianists, he reinvigorated the European Jazz scene with his Trio [em], and he plays Brecon with his new Trio featuring Christian Weber on bass and Eric Schaefer on drums.

"one of the most exciting recent developments in European jazz" The Guardian

Roger Beaujolais Quartet – Roger came to prominence with 80’s jump jive favourites The Chevalier Brothers (also featuring Ray Gelato), worked briefly with Fairground Attraction before forming Latin Jazz outfit the Beaujolais Band who released two top selling albums on Acid Jazz Records, with more albums as Vibraphonic on the same label, before signing to Disney’s Hollywood Records. He has played with music’s hierarchy, from Slim Gaillard to Omara Portuondo and Robert Plant. His quartet includes Winston Clifford, Robin Aspland, and Simon Thorpe.

The Big Chris Barber Band stands out as one of the finest of its kind anywhere in the world, covering everything from New Orleans to Blues to late 20's Ellington, from a bandleader who’s played over 10,000 concerts. Having fronted a number of bands since his career began in 1949, Chris Barber OBE is a true icon of Trad Jazz in the UK.

Trish Clowes Quintet featuring Gwilym Simcock - currently a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, saxophonist and composer Trish Clowes' music explores a fascinating hinterland between Jazz and contemporary classical music, combining fluent improvisation with languid, evocative melodic lines and shifting textures. Trish appears in the beautiful Brecon Cathedral with her Quintet, featuring Simcock on piano, as well as Chris Montague on guitar, Calum Gourlay on bass and James Maddren on drums.

Troyka, led by BBC Award Winner and Mercury Music Prize nominee Kit Downes, are an explosive British Jazz-Rock group whose intense live shows have seen them hotly tipped to become the next young band to explode from the capital’s fertile Jazz scene. Downes is joined by Chris Montague (guitars and loops) and Joshua Blackmore (drums).

Three of the most important young British jazz musicians we have in this country…they seem to be able to create these extraordinary atmospheres within their improvisation.”

Jamie Cullum

Vinicius Cantuária Quartet - singer, guitarist & composer Vinicius Cantuária is one of the most successful Brazilian musicians in the sphere of Bossa Nova and Jazz and the pioneer of neo-Brazilian music. Leader of the rock band “O Terco”, he released six albums in Brazil in the 80s, before relocating to New York, where Vinicius collaborated with such giants as David Byrne, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Norah Jones and Melody Gardot.

"Cantuária offered a set that was a masterpiece of contemporary music, regardless of definition."  
Los Angeles Times

Warren Vache-Alan Barnes Quintet - having featured on the bill of the very first Brecon Jazz, Warren Vaché is a supremely accomplished, versatile and rare performer, who has been astounding audiences worldwide for decades with his superb cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn stylings. He returns to Brecon with his quintet, featuring multi-award winning reeds man Alan Barnes, recipient of the prestigious BBC Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award in 2001 and 2006.

Do Not Go Gentle: Wales Meets Dylan Thomas - Brecon Jazz Artist in Residence, Swansea born composer Huw Warren presents a new Jazz suite based on the poetry of Dylan Thomas in the centenary of the poet’s birth. The piece will be touring after its world premiere at Brecon and features three of Warren’s long term collaborators, Iain Ballamy, Steve Watts and Martin France who have all been at the cutting edge of the UK Jazz scene since the 1990s. No project linking Dylan Thomas and Jazz can fail to be influenced by Stan Tracey’s iconic Under Milk Wood Suite of 1965, and this suite is respectfully dedicated to Stan, who sadly passed away this year.

A Tribute to Stan Tracey sees a Quintet comprising his son, Clark Tracey (drums), Andy Cleyndert (Bass), Steve Melling (piano), Simon Allen (Sax) and Mark Armstrong (trumpet) pay their respects to the great Britain who sadly died late last year in the best way possible.

Don Weller & David Newton. A true original of British Jazz, Don Weller is one of Britain’s leading saxophone players whose renowned versatility has been recognised with three 'Top Tenor' awards, in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Don’s ‘who’s who’ of collaborators over the years has included Bryan Spring, Stan Tracey and Art Themen, Gil Evans, Dick Morrissey, Bobby Wellins, and Errol Clarke.

Don Weller performs at Brecon alongside highly respected pianist David Newton, who was voted Best Jazz Pianist in the British Jazz Awards for a remarkable eleventh time in 2012.

In a career stretching over 35 years, Newton has performed with the likes of Buddy De Franco, Martin Taylor, Alan Barnes, Carol Kidd, Marion Montgomery, Tina May, Annie Ross, Claire Martin and Stacey Kent, with whom he spent a decade recording and touring the world.

Jean Toussaint - internationally-renowned Jazz saxophonist Jean Toussaint spent four and a half years as a member of the historic Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, winning a Grammy along the way. He worked in the groups of American icons such as McCoy Tyner, Max Roach, Cedar Walton, Gil Evans and Jeff 'Tain' Watts. His most recent release, Tate Song, features Toussaint's working quartet of pianist Andrew McCormack, bassist Larry Bartley and drummer Troy Miller, who will perform alongside Toussaint at Brecon Jazz 2014.

“…class material, matured over the years and now bursting out of the cask. Single malt with a vengeance…”


Kairos 4Tet - fronted by saxophonist and MOBO ward winner Adam Waldmann, Kairos 4Tet are fast becoming a cornerstone of the British Jazz scene, bridging the gap between classic and contemporary. Waldmann has worked with the likes of Alicia Keys, Mark Ronson, Paloma Faith and Tinie Tempah amongst others. He is joined in Kairos 4Tet by bassist Jasper Høiby’s, pianist Ivo Neame and Jon Scott on drums.

Mike Harries Root Doctors, in a former guise, represented home-grown talent at Brecon Jazz ’84, and Mike himself is a Welsh Jazz institution who has been performing since the 1940s. Harries brought his new band The Root Doctors to Brecon in 1987. You can still trace their New Orleans and deep-south starting point, but they have evolved a unique show of magic and madness.

Penguin Café’s music has infiltrated daily life from films like Napoleon Dynamite to countless theme tunes, and they've played festivals and venues ranging from Bestival and The Big Chill to a sold out Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. Their sound is at once familiar and new, combining acoustic power and a beguiling, feisty charm.

Polar Bear - their new music is at once more spacious and intense than their previous work, with drummer Sebastian Rochford, a musician known for his numerous category-defying projects, who has played with a spectrum that covers Yoko Ono, Paul McCartney and Andy Sheppard, leading the band in a new direction. The band features saxophonists Pete Wareham and Mark Lockheart, Tom Herbert on bass, as well as electronics wizard/guitarist Leafcutter John.

The Shape of Jazz to Come: RWCMD + NYJW – in a concert brought to you by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Percy Pursglove directs National Youth Jazz Wales, featuring talented young Jazz musicians who have been developing their improvisational and ensemble skills under the guidance of some of the UK’s best Jazz specialists.

World Wide Wales: Wales Meets Mirabassi is a collaboration between Brecon Artist in Residence, Huw Warren with Italian clarinettist Gabriele Mirabassi, who has recently been involved in Brazilian popular styles. Both players are well known for combining simple, direct lyricism with an open, dazzling approach to improvisation.

Zara McFarlane is a graduate of the BRIT School and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, whose debut album Until Tomorrow received rave reviews and a MOBO award nomination. Her diverse influences are also reflected in the acts which McFarlane has performed with, from Gary Crosby’s Ska Orchestra, and Jazz Jamaica to esteemed British jazzers such as Orphy Robinson, Denys Baptiste and Soweto Kinch.

…Zara McFarlane perfects her blend of austere instrumentation and mantra-like rhythms supporting her rich and warm voice that owe more to Mongo Santamaria than reputedly Nina Simone or Roberta Flack.

All About Jazz

British trombonist Dennis Rollins brings his fine trio, Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio to Brecon’s revived Captain’s walk outdoor venue, with the virtuoso cutting loose in the company of Hammond organist Ross Stanley and drummer Pedro Segundo.

With high profile national and international awards to their name (Best UK Newcomer at the 2013 Jazz FM Awards & European Young Artists’ Jazz Award at 2011 Burghausen International Jazz Festival, Germany) and consistent audience and critical acclaim for their performances across the UK and Europe, the Beats & Pieces Big Band are fast becoming one of the country’s most talked about Jazz groups.

“Beats & Pieces dazzled with a glorious, full-bloodied set demonstrating all that’s good about big band Jazz. The big band tradition is alive and well and living in Manchester.” Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise.

Another big band lined up for the Captain’s Walk stage are Lonely Hearts Rugby Club, who thrill audiences with a mix of South African, Brazilian and Bulgarian sounds, along with their own compositions.

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