Brecon Jazz Festival
Brecon Jazz Festival 2014
The 2014 Brecon Jazz Festival this year celebrates its 30th anniversary and promises to be one of the best jazz festivals in the UK. The lineup has been partially released and includes Laura Mvula, Loose Tubes, Warren Vaché Quintet and Mike Harries Root Doctors. This 3-day event is one to put into your calendars and suitable for the entire family.
Every year Brecon Jazz Festival takes place in the area around Brecon, Wales. The Brecon Jazz Festival is located in this beautiful rural setting and usually takes place in early August. All kinds of jazz musicians travel from everywhere on earth to participate. The Festival attracts a lot of tourists who come for the music, but also love to spend their vacation here relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere during the festival. There is a vibrant social scene and many activities for everyone to enjoy in and around the area of Brecon Beacons.
Video Highlights of the Brecon Jazz Festival, Mixed Years
Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get access to HD videos of hundreds of festivals worldwide!
In years past the Brecon Jazz Festival was produced by the Hay Festival. This was from June 2009 to December 2011 and at that time it was underwritten by the Arts Council of Wales. Since 2012 an events and media company from Cardiff called Orchard has been producing the festival. Although the Brecon Jazz Festival is a well-known brand known worldwide, Orchard wanted to bring more excitement to the event and the surrounding area of Brecon.
Planning for the first Festival began in 1983 and was carried out by the owner of The Four Bars Inn, Jed Williams, who first staged it the following year in 1984. He had a budget of just £100. In 1981 the Brycheiniog Association for the Arts was formed by the locals to bring more cultural events to the tiny Welsh market town. One of the locals, Liz Elston was a member of this association and was the first person chosen to Chair the jazz festival. There was local antique dealer who had been to the Breda Jazz Festival located in the Netherlands and his enthusiasm for that prompted the idea for holding one in Brecon. An invitation was extended to George Melly to perform as he lived close by and could attract other jazz musicians as well as an audience.Show More History...
Finances have always been challenging for the event even though it has always attracted topnotch acts and kept a high profile. In fact, the festival has had to be rescued several times by the Brecon International Festival of Jazz Ltd. only being the most recent management company undertaking the rescue effort. A few years back, in 2008, Brecon Jazz Festival’s 25th anniversary, the fest started off really well after booking some amazing acts such as Courtney Pine, Joan Armatrading and Cerys Matthews, all of whom received advanced bookings.
But as luck would have it, that weekend bad weather moved in and the tourists just didn’t come. Add to that sponsorship issues and problems with other income streams; that December the company went into voluntary liquidation to pay off creditors. A bid came in from Hay Festival to manage the Festival and in March 2009 the Arts Council Wales decided to give their support.
The 2009 festival brought Brecon back to its musical heritage. It put on a very successful carnival parade and even directly tackled the topic of social upheaval. Rhodri Morgan, the former First Minister of Wales, had come out strongly supporting the festival that year.
Additional events have emerged thanks to Brecon Fringe Festival booking acts in hotels, galleries, cafes, pubs and other locations all over town. They have a website, www.breconfringe.co.uk which helps attract acts and visitors alike. They distribute free guides to all the Fringe events throughout Brecon and this has really added to the overall excitement of the Brecon Jazz Festival.
More Photos in the ‘Gallery‘ Tab below.
The 2014 Brecon Jazz Festival lineup has been partially released. See below for confirmed acts so far.
Check back regularly for further updates or you can Updates via Facebook or ⇩ subscribe to lineup notifications ⇩
Confirmed acts for the Brecon Jazz Festival are as follows:
- Warren Vaché feat. Alan Barnes
- Mike Harries Root Doctors (formally Mike Harries Jazz Band)
- Loose Tubes
- Laura Mvula
Artist InfoWarren Vaché
Having featured on the bill of the very first Brecon Jazz, Warren Vaché is a supremely accomplished, versatile and rare performer. He has been astounding audiences worldwide for decades with his superb cornet, trumpet and flugelhorn stylings, and we are pleased to be welcoming one of the Brecon Originals back to the festival in our 30th year, where he will perform with his quintet, featuring multi-award winning reeds man Alan Barnes. – Source: Brecon Jazz
Whilst Warren Vaché was amongst the first International guests, Mike Harries represented home-grown talent at Brecon Jazz ’84, appearing with his Mike Harries Jazz Band. A Welsh Jazz institution who has been performing since the 1940’s, Harries brought his new band The Root Doctors to Brecon in 1987, and his 30 year association with the festival continues with Mike Harries Root Doctors taking their place in the official programme of Brecon Jazz 2014. – Source: Brecon Jazz
Coincidentally, Brecon Jazz shares its 30th Anniversary with that of Loose Tubes, the anarchic 21 piece big-band whose lineup reads like a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of a brilliant generation of musicians. The band made their Brecon Jazz debut in 1985 at the Guildhall; their first gig outside of London. They returned in 1988, this time at The Market Hall, premiering a new suite commissioned especially by the festival. Having disbanded in 1990, many members (most recently Iain Ballamy, Martin France and Django Bates) became regulars at Brecon over the years in various groups and guises, but our coincidental anniversary presented the perfect opportunity to bring the newly reformed Loose Tubes back together with Brecon Jazz in 2014. – Source: Brecon Jazz
So we look to the future, as one of the brightest new British talents makes her debut at Brecon Jazz. A real find of 2013, soul singer/songwriter and Mercury Prize 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 Festival.
A unique star in ascendancy, Laura Mvula‘s exceptional talents have also been acknowledged with nominations at this year’s Brit Awards, in the categories of best ‘British Breakthrough Act’ and ‘British Female Solo Artist’; titles we hope she arrives in Brecon with this August. – Source: Brecon Jazz
Tickets prices for the 2014 Brecon Jazz Festival have not yet been confirmed they will be on sale Friday 28th February. Check back then for updates. You will be able to purchase them from their online Ticket Page.
Please help secure the future of this event by sharing on your social media channels. It only takes 2 seconds and with your support we can increase exposure of the event, boost ticket sales, attract more festival-goers and organize better festivals for the future. We need your support, if you can, please help. Thank you.
There are 6 main venues that are participating in this years Jazz Fest, all are within close vicinity of each other.
(use below information in correspondence with map to the right)
1. Brecon Cathedral
The Cathedral Close, Brecon
LD3 9DP – Tel: (01874) 623857
2. Captains Walk
Brecon, LD3 7DS
3. Market Hall
Market Street, Brecon
4. The Guildhall
High Street, Brecon
LD3 7LA – Tel: (01874) 622884
5. Christ College
Bridge Street, Brecon
LD3 8AF UK – Tel: (01874) 615440
6. Theatr Brycheiniog
Canal Wharf, Brecon
LD3 7EW – Tel: (Box Office): (01874) 611622
The closest Airport to Brecon, Wales (festival venue) is Cardiff Airport (CWL). Distance from Cardiff Airport to Brecon, Wales is 53 miles (85 km) journey time is around 1 hour 20 mins by car.
Currently 11 airlines operate from Cardiff Airport:
Fly Thomas Cook
The cheapest hotel and accommodation options I could find in and around Brecon, Wales during the Brecon Jazz Festival (early August) are shown below (Click HERE for a complete list).
Check out the nicest hotel in Brecon!!
*** Hotel prices rise exponentially as you get closer to the festival dates. Book early to avoid disappointment. ***
I would recommend checking Brecon hotel reviews on TripAdvisor prior to placing any booking. Alternatively, why don’t you try something different and rent someones apartment during the festival period at AirBnB?! Click here for a free £15 credit towards your first booking!
If you wanted to camp at this years Brecon Jazz Festival you can do so at the Brecon RFC who have kindly opened their grounds to accommodate campers. Check out the Official Brecon RFC Jazz Camp Site page. Other campsites can be found at the UK Campsite Website – Brecon.
Interview with Pablo Janczur
Recently Festival Archive was lucky enough to interview Pablo Janczur, Events director of the Brecon Jazz Festival. We asked him a few questions about this years festival, hear what he has to say below.
The Brecon Jazz Festival is now in its 30th year which is a brilliant achievement and one you must be proud of. Can you tell us how long you have been working with the festival and give us a little history as to how you made your way into your current position?
The Orchard Media and Events Group was appointed by the Arts Council of Wales in May 2012 to operate Brecon Jazz festival, so we have two years of the event under our belts as we prepare for the 30th anniversary year in 2014. I was actually involved in the festival previous to that, having promoted a number of concerts there over the years, including Amy Winehouse in the early stages of her career, and the Super Furry Animals. Our PR Director Tim Powell also worked with previous festival operators over the years on publicising the event.
Many people would think that planning a festival would be an ideal job but I can imagine that it must be fraught with stresses and complications. During your role within the festival what do you find to be the most challenging aspects of your job?
On an event like Brecon Jazz, which has over 30 individual performances taking place in 6 venues across a town, logistics is obviously a key issue. But above and beyond the nuts and bolts of the event, we are endowed with a great responsibility as the guardians of a 30 year old festival to ensure that Brecon Jazz remains synonymous with high artistic integrity; that the balance of its grand traditions and our future visions are weighted equally, and that audiences, including both newcomers and those who have invested themselves in Brecon Jazz over the course of its long history, are treated respectfully, both in terms of the quality of performers we bring before them, and how we engage with them as a festival.
Getting this balance right requires a constant conversation with artists and audiences, stakeholders, venues, media, funders and sponsors. When it comes together, it really is worth all the hard work that goes in to the festival. Good audience reaction really does power the machine.
The lineup for the Brecon Jazz Fest has not officially been released, are you able to give us any clues or hints as to who we might be able to expect in 2014?
Sorry, our lineup is a closely guarded secret, especially in our 30th Anniversary year! What we can say is that we will continue to programme a diverse lineup of artists, mixing international and home grown talent, giving a stage to both the new and the traditional, and ensuring audiences of all ages are presented with the best possible reasons to come back to Brecon.View Rest of Interview
It’s always been a great mystery to me as to how the festival handles act selection. Are there specific criteria that artists have to meet? Are acts selected purely on talent and performance alone or do your gut instincts and emotions come into play when making decisions? Also, who has the final say as to who performs (if there is just one artistic visionary?!)?
The overall responsibility for programming lies with the Festival Director, who works closely with our Artist in Residence, Huw Warren, in developing the programme. We have built a list featuring performers we’d love to bring to Brecon, but also featuring new artists we’ve been keeping an eye on. We also listen to our audience, whose knowledge and passion for the form always astounds us. Due to the profile of the event, we also find ourselves blessed with the opportunity to programme big names, as in 2012 when we brought Dionne Warwick to town. When you get offered something like that it’s an obvious decision, but you’re right about having to rely on your instincts as well. Art must challenge its audience, so Programming often requires bold decisions.
Over the years the festival has grown from strength to strength and has now established itself as one of the great events in the international jazz festival circuit; what do you think has been the key to the festivals continued success and what are some of the major difficulties your team are faced with each year?
A great location, fantastic performers and supportive audiences. The only major difficulty is fitting it all in to 3 days!
Can you tell us a little about your favourite moments of the past 2013 Brecon Jazz Festival?
Brecon’s Market Hall has become an iconic Jazz venue over the year – a mid-Wales market selling cheese and greetings cards on Friday afternoon is transformed into a stage for some of the world’s finest musicians by night. We wrapped up the 2013 festival there with a barnstorming performance by Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, leaving the crowds eager for more next year. Another personal triumph was the first ever live streaming of a concert from Brecon Cathedral, featuring our artist-in-residence Huw Warren and Italian vocalist Maria Pia De Vito.
Are there any programmes/clinics, educational or otherwise, that run alongside the Brecon Jazz Festival? If people wished to participate in any of them what is the best way for them to find out some more information?
Each year we run a series of Master Classes where audiences can get an insight in to the artistic processes of some of our guest performers. In the last couple of years that has included Jason Rebello, Julian Siegel and Laurence Cottle. We keep the ticket price as low as possible (just £5 in 2013) so that it is accessible to aspiring performers, seasoned musicians or just curious fans, and the response has been outstanding. Details of this year’s slate will be published on breconjazz.com alongside the rest of the lineup in early 2014.
The festival has now been around for a long time and some would say that the past couple of years has been the festivals’ best years, how do you strive to make each year better than the last and where do you see the festival in 10 years?
Our plan is to keep pursuing the big names, supporting emerging artists and never taking our audiences for granted. That will be the driver not just for next year, but 10, 20 years down the line.
Many people say that it’s the festivals diverse range of jazz styles and the introduction of other similar music genres that has led to the success of the festival. How do you manage to walk the fine line between keeping both the jazz purists happy with the programme lineup and audiences with lets say a more ‘general’ taste in music?
You can’t be all things to all men (and women), but you can give it a good go. As long as you have a decent understanding of your audience, you’ll be aware of what you need to deliver, whether it’s for the purists or those with a broader appetite. We hope that by offering a diverse programme, audiences will be tempted to try something new at the festival, which is what festivals are supposed to be all about; diversity and discovery.
For people wishing to help out at the festival this year round can you please tell them a little about any volunteer opportunities you offer or other ways they can help?
Brecon Jazz would not be the event that it is without our dedicated troupe of volunteer Stewards who do an amazing job with our visitors each year. We always welcome any enquiries from people interested in becoming a volunteer Steward at Brecon Jazz, with the contact form on our website the main means for contact. http://www.breconjazz.com/contact/
What would be your best advice for somebody visiting the festival for the very first time?
Take in the complete variety of venues in the old town – from the Market Hall to the modern surroundings of Theatr Brycheiniog, to the ambience of the splendid Brecon Cathedral, and the other smaller venues. As a promoter, I’m also keen that visitors buy as many tickets as possible too!
And finally, who are your personal all-time favourite jazz performers?
Unfortunately the legendary names of the great Jazz era are dying off, but there’s a whole new generation coming through. Both ages have been well represented at Brecon over the years – from Lionel Hampton, Betty Carter and Joe Lovano to Wynton Marsalis, Courtney Pine, and Jamie Cullum. For me, nothing encapsulates the spirit of Brecon better than the flamboyant personality of George Melly, who was a resident of the town for some years. George helped to put the festival on the world map, and his legacy will continue well beyond our 30th anniversary.
We would like to make a special thanks to Pablo and his team for taking the time out of their busy schedule to answer these questions. We wish you all the best with this upcoming festival.
Brecon Jazz Festival 2013 Review
The 2013 Brecon Jazz Festival one of the best festivals I attended last year (and I went to a few!). The Brecon Beacons national park is a fantastic surrounding setting allowing which further added to the enjoyment of the event. We (my boyfriend and I) took many short walks off around and during the festival, you can get lost in the rolling hills.
Overall I think there were around six venues with hosted some of the finest British and international jazz performers you’re likely to find. Outside of the inside venues the street corners were full of barbecue sizzle, brass bands, buskers and people enjoying music; strolling the streets was often sometimes better than being inside, going at your own pace and enjoying the freedom and constant change of music around you. The weather also held out, the sun was up and a few light clouds in the sky seemed to put everyone in a good mood.Read Full Review
So a few little facts I discovered… The Welsh Music Calendar has been featuring this prestigious festival for nearly thirty years. In 2013, the number of concerts increased by 1/3 from the prior year and the lineup seemed to improve as a result (I’m thinking the organizers were on top form!).
Gilad Atzmon and Courtney Pine’s House of Legends on Friday was a personal favourite of mine. Then as Saturday morning rolled around we were greeted with the A470 going to the canal side of Theater Brycheiniog. Once there, Croydon’s Anthony Strong warmed up the chilly afternoon (sun was out but still cold!) with his chiiled vibes and smooth sounds; his jazz, although very commercial sounding, was well written and a welcome, laid back, post-lunchtime treat.
The weekend was filled with many great artists, however the lack of young jazz fans was noticeable even despite the abundance of student performers at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD). The students and the new graduates presented some impressive compositions.
In other areas of the festival, the lauded Scandinavian and British trio, Phronesis, impressed the crowd yet again with their imagination being displayed through their music. Phronesis was led by Jasper Holby, a Danish double bassist that has many years experience leading audiences through sensual soundscapes.
An unexpected performed by ‘The Roller Trio’ seemed to appall the audience with their rock swagger riffs mixes, vicious drums, and looped Saxes. This in contrast to the well known Django Bates Beloved whose performance was somwhat more ‘composed’ and played a couple of classic Charlie Parker compositions. Bates also appeared to give the crowd a quick chuckle with his sheep covered tee while he led his trio through the new album Confirmation (even though his headliner Mavis Staples was not present) – What a legend! It was a great way for the crowd to end their Saturday night!
Sunday begin with a great Jazz Festival Service that took place at the Brecon Cathedral this alone attracted some 700 people. The Laura Jurd Quartet crowd was modest but her tantalizing and original composition coupled with her expressive trumpet-teering seemed to mesmerize the crowd. The Cathedral’s acoustics were not only great for the Laura Jurd Quartet but they were also ideal for John Surman who followed.
The guest vocalists, Celia Mur, stated, “Music is the only universal language”. Her Spanish tones were of the same standards of Ellington’s Caravan, which were refreshing yet flirtatious and delicious!
Other guest vocalists who were part of the Brecon Jazz Festival 2013 included Roland Gift with the Fine Young Cannibals, Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall, Rico Rodriguez, and Jools Holland. These vocalists were able to give the audience a great mixture of pop, rock, and even reggae.
The Brecon Jazz Festival 2013 once again proved itself one of the best gems of the British music scene. Those who attended are patiently waiting to see what the 30th Anniversary of the Festival is going to have in store for them in the year 2014. So far, the first four acts have been announced. Mike Harris is among them and even though the tickets are not on sale, yet the 30th Anniversary Festival is already being referred to as a festival that will not leave the audience disappointed at all!
If you require any further information on this festival or would like to leave a message for others then please use the comments section below.
NB. You also find photo galleries, live festival news, transport information in the tabbed section below. All festival listings are changing continuously, check back regularly.
- Wikipedia Page on Brecon Jazz Festival
- Top 20 UNUSUAL (but somehow essential?!!) Festival Items
- Friends of Brecon Jazz Website
- Brecon Fringe Festival
- Another interview with Pablo Janczur