Jazz in Wales

News about gigs, festivals, famous names, new artists and more compiled by DJ Andy Roberts in Cardiff, Wales. Send your updates to andy @ jazzinwales.co.uk

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mostly jazz and blues for Mumbles

Preparations are underway for the second Mumbles Mostly Jazz & Blues Festival over the April/May bank holiday weekend.

Julian Marc Stringle and Snake Davis are among the top attractions who'll be performing in the main venue, a marquee in Oystermouth Square from Friday 28 April to Monday 1 May.

Local jazz stars like the Speakeasy Jazz Band, Oliver Nezhati and Descarga Cubana are also on the bill, which includes gigs at the Victoria Inn, the Beaufort Arms, Mumbles rugby and cricket clubs.

For ticket information and further details contact Mumbles Development Trust 01792 361012 or Dave Cottle via 07802 912789 or his website

Monday, March 27, 2006

Brecon Jazz - banking on success

HSBC have been named as the first ever title sponsors of the annual Brecon Jazz Festival in a three year, six figure deal aimed at safeguarding its future.

The news was announced at a launch event in Cardiff Bay attended by George Melly, representing the thousands of musicians who'll be performing at this year's festival.

Stan Tracey, Courtney Pine, Johnny Griffin, Benny Golson, Gwyneth Herbert and Iris Williams are among the early names confirmed for the 23rd festival taking place August 11-13.

HSBC's sponsorship includes funding for a series of workshops around Wales to give young musicians an opportunity to try the music and perform at the festival.

More details at www.breconjazz.co.uk

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Billy Cobham - Back To His Roots

The legendary drummer has been getting back to his Latin roots with a short collaboration and tour in Wales with Cuban band Asere.

Billy Cobham and Asere

Billy - who was born in Panama before being brought up in New York - first met the Cuban seven-piece at WOMAD in 2002 but only now have they managed to find simultaneous spaces in their diaries to get down to some serious preparation.

They spent three days rehearsing in Cardigan before their first performance at Theatr Mwldan, followed by dates in Builth Wells, Swansea and Aberystwyth.

I saw the Friday night gig at the Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth, where a capacity crowd enjoyed an evening of Asere's traditional and contemporary Cuban sounds with additional flourishes from their guest drummer and a Cubanized version of Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues.

Apart from a ten minute drum solo which opened the second set, Billy was happy to be one of the gang, taking his turn on hand percussion, backing vocals and even a little soft shoe shuffle - it was surely never like this in the Bitches Brew sessions!

It's likely the collaboration will be repeated at major venues and festivals all over the world - for more details, see http://www.billycobham.com/

If you saw one of these gigs, you can add your views by clicking the Comments link just below this line.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Wales Jazz Composers Orchestra

The cream of Welsh jazz take time out from their individual projects to join forces for a nationwide tour.

This 18 piece big band plays original music by members like Huw Warren, Paula Gardiner, Simon Thorne and Julian Martin.

They've already performed a number of times in Cardiff, notably at the first Jed Williams memorial concert at St David's Hall in November 2004.

Forthcoming dates:

  • Sat 8 April - Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
  • Thurs 13 April - Torch Theatre, Milford Haven
  • Weds 19 April - Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold
  • Thurs 20 April - Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl
  • Sat 22 April - Riverfront, Newport
  • Thurs 27 April - Blackwood Miners Institute
  • Fri 5 May - Parc and Dare Theatre, Treorchy
  • Sat 6 May - Galeri, Caernarfon
  • Sat 13 May - Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
  • Tues 30 May - Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
  • Huw Warren - This is Now!

    The 2005 winner of the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation proves he's worthy of the accolade with an Arts Council of Wales commissioned project fusing jazz and new music in what's billed as a "unique, eclectic and compelling exploration of modern Wales".

    This is Now! (Nawr!) is performed by an all Welsh ensemble with new text in Welsh by Aled Jones Williams, freestyle rap from Nobsta Nuts, and the virtuoso improvising of guitarist John Parricelli.

    Forthcoming performances:

  • Weds 5 April - Tabernacl, Machynlleth
  • Thurs 6 April - Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
  • Friday 7 April - Vortex Jazz Club, London

    Look out too for Gower Boy, another new project in which Huw explores his Welsh roots.

    For more details, see www.huwwarren.com
  • Monday, March 13, 2006

    Toucan Club - the new nest in Cardiff

    *** NB Since I wrote this article the Toucan Club has closed its doors - there are no plans at present to reopen the club at this or any other location ***

    Cardiff's most eclectic music venue, the Toucan Club, is now settling in to its new home at the former Journeys premises on the corner of Clifton Street and Newport Road in Roath.

    Funky jazz is still very much part of the plan, with bands such as Michael's Breakfast and Freak Unique having already appeared as part of Saturday's Mothership Convention nights.

    And teenage singer Ruby Samba - daughter of percussionist extraordinaire Tim Short - hosts Playgroup, an acoustic session on Wednesday nights featuring music, poetry and more.

    Special guests this week (Weds 15 March) are Fantasmagoria, a rootsy French/English gypsy jazz outfit.

    They're friends of Marcin Wright, so there's a chance the normally shy and retiring (!!!) saxman will be tempted onto the stage for a tune or two.

    More details at www.toucanclub.co.uk

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    African Jazz in Swansea

    Club Mambo on the Kingsway in Swansea is a haven for fans who want to hear and dance to African jazz.

    Dance classes take place on Tuesday nights followed by a club night with DJ Ben Nkonu.

    He also hosts Nu Pulse Afrika at Mambo on Saturday 11 March featuring the latest sounds from DR Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, etc. 9pm till late, admission free.

    Ben also invites people with fond memories of the Tuesday night African Jazz sessions with Amas at the Anthill to visit his new website at www.africanjazz.info

    Amas' band Jazzy Africana are also featured on BBC Radio Wales in a programme called Community People going out at 6.30 pm on Saturday 11 and Saturday 18 March.

    The two programmes were recorded at a live cabaret show staged as part of the BBC's community activities in Carmarthen last year.

    See bbc.co.uk/radiowales for details - you'll be able to hear these programmes via the website anytime over the seven days following their broadcast.

    Ian Shaw - live at The Gate, Cardiff

    There's a rare chance to see award-winning jazz singer Ian Shaw in concert in his native Wales in April.

    The St Asaph-born star, named Best Vocalist in the 2004 BBC Jazz Awards, appears at The Gate arts centre in Cardiff on Saturday 8 April with guitarist David Preston.

    Ian will be featuring songs from his forthcoming album of Joni Mitchell covers, Drawn To All Things.

    It's the latest in a series of monthly jazz gigs at this recently converted church in Keppoch Street, Roath.

    The Gate also offers jam sessions on the last Tuesday of every month in the bar, and jazz improvisation courses with pianist Julian Martin on Saturday afternoons.

    For details see www.thegate.org.uk or phone 029 2043 1291.

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Women in Jazz - 20th Anniversary

    This Swansea-based organisation founded in 1986 by pianist and historian Jen Wilson has a number of special events planned for its 20th anniversary year.

    Workshops for a Women in Jazz Orchestra and Allstars Showcases will encourage participation, and Stepping Out, an exhibition planned for County Hall, Swansea, in April 2006, will tell the untold story of women in jazz in Wales.

    And there'll be further opportunities to see Before Freedom, a touring package of music and visual images telling the story of Willis the Fugitive Slave who was set free by Swansea in 1833.

    For full details about Women in Jazz, and inquiries about its extensive Archive Collection, phone 01792 456666 or see www.womeninjazzswansea.org.uk