Brecon beckons

Plenty to choose from at the rejuvenated Brecon Jazz Festival next weekend, in a programme that covers everything from Acker Bilk, still going strong at 84, to a good selection of modern stuff, mostly from the British scene.

I can’t make Friday, but for those who can Zoe Rahman will sound fine in the Cathedral, and Gilad Atzmon looks a good bet in the same venue.

More stuff than feasible on Saturday, so will have to be selective, although Saturday headliner Mavis Staples has cancelled so a little more leeway. We’ll be going for the Julian Seigel Quartet, with the brilliant Liam Noble on piano, a band who don’t appear nearly often enough. Then there’s the irresistible prospect of seeing Jasper Hoiby’s Phronesis again. Their set in London earlier in the year with an augmented line-up was fine, but looking forward to seeing them as just a trio again, especially coming off a much-praised North American visit. Word is they are on superb form.

A break then, probably, if we can withstand the temptation to catch the Roller Trio, saving some attention for Django Bates’ Beloved trio, finishing the day in the Cathedral.

Sunday looks, if anything, even better, with brilliant young trumpeter Laura Jurd’s quartet offering an early set in the Cathedral – but overlapping with festival artist in residence Huw Warren doing interesting things with visiting drummer Jim Black. Warren is also playing with the fine Italian singer Maria Pia Di Vito on Saturday, a concert which is being live streamed on the web if you can’t actually get to Brecon. Then there’s a welcome chance to hear the Anglo-US quartet The Impossible Gentlemen, with guitar wizard Mike Walker and Gwilym Simcock on piano, and a rare sighting of the great John Surman’s trio with old associates Chris Laurence and John Marshall, and an end of day treat in the shape of Quercus – Huw Warren again with Iain Ballamy and the peerless June Tabor.

There’s lots more, detailed here, not to mention the usual enormous Fringe programme – every bar and shop in the town has some kind of music going on, though it ranges well beyond jazz… The list covers everything from the Acoustic Sons of Elvis via Sicknote Steve (not to be confused with Seasick Steve) to Western Super Bear.   The main thing is that it really feels as if the whole town is in on the festival, in a way I think isn’t matched in the UK. Weather outlook looks reasonable, so here’s looking forward to a memorable weekend. If you don’t have a whole weekend, it is an easy day trip from Bristol by car, and a nice drive, too…


  1. Who knew there’s a Liam Noble playing for Carlisle United? I presume it’s not ‘our’ Liam moonlighting. The link takes us to the footballer’s entry on Wikipedia – a chuckle worthy moment!

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