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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hay considers Brecon Jazz rescue

Wales's top literary event - the Hay Festival - could rescue the Brecon Jazz Festival, which has ceased trading after making a substantial loss.

Hay director Peter Florence told the BBC he was having "a good look" at what could be done to help save the neighbouring event, whose box office was run by the Hay team this summer.

"There is no reason why Brecon could not recover some of the summer fun it has always had," Mr Florence said.

The Welsh Jazz Society is also looking at whether it can come forward with a plan to save Brecon Jazz.

But WJS trustee Brian Hennessy pointed out that most successful jazz festivals were held in large towns or cities with better communications and larger venues.

See the BBC News website for the full story.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Django's jazz in Haverfordwest

Django's Jazz and Blues Club launches at the Venue in Haverfordwest on Thursday 5 March with a gig by the Amigos.

There'll be gigs on the first Thursday of every month with future attractions including the Gareth Roberts Quintet (April 2), Eddie Martin (May 7) and the Osian Roberts/Steve Fishwick Quintet (June 4).

Admission to all gigs is £10 payable on the door - under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.

For details contact Dewi Smith on 01437 711120 or see www.djangos.biz

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brecon Jazz receivership: official statement

Organisers of the Brecon Jazz Festival have confirmed that they have called in the receivers - here is their official statement:

"The Board of Brecon International Festival of Jazz Limited announces with regret that it has requested Vaughan Jones, Insolvency Practitioner of BN Jackson Norton, to assist in winding up the affairs of the Company.

"This year’s Festival, the twenty-fifth, was generally regarded as an artistic success but resulted in a substantial financial loss. Although pre-Festival ticket sales were good, the bad weather during the Festival resulted in poor sales over the weekend. In turn this affected income from camping, stall fees and merchandising. A number of promised sponsorships and grants did not materialise and broadcasting and advertising income was lower than planned.

"Serious staffing difficulties caused major additional costs in the administration of the Festival on top of the heavy cost of street cleaning, security and policing (which increased by 36% over the previous year). The last minute withdrawal of the Castle Hotel, for many years a key uncharged venue for Festival events, gave rise to unplanned marquee and site costs. The sad death of a headline artist, Esbjorn Svensson, only weeks before the Festival resulted in refunds, incurred extra costs and left a serious hole in the programme.

"It is on the record that the Festival, like some others, was bearing a deficit from previous years which it had started to reduce. However, this year’s loss plus the existing deficit combined to make the Company’s financial position untenable.

"Neither the Arts Council of Wales nor the Welsh Assembly Government are able to offer assistance to the Company and it therefore appears that the survival of the Brecon Jazz Festival is in serious doubt. The failure of the Festival would be a huge disappointment to the many thousands of jazz fans and artists for whom Brecon is an annual August pilgimage. The gross economic impact on the local community, which this year was estimated to be over £4 million, would also be lost.

"John Payne, Chairman of the Board, commented: 'The Festival, which was voted Best Major Event in Wales, 2007 at the National Tourism Awards, has been an important part of the Welsh cultural landscape for the last twenty-five years and its possible demise is a matter of concern to the community at large."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brecon Jazz calls in the receivers

The Brecon Jazz Festival has called in the receivers two months after telling creditors it was suspending payments, according to reports from the BBC.

The festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this summer, said in October it had suffered a "significant loss" financially.

Powys county councillor Paul Ashton, a trustee of the festival board, told the BBC that bad weather during August had had an impact on revenues as last-minute ticket sales had been affected.

"As happens with events, it gets larger and larger and it's difficult to keep it a community event," he said.

"It may rise phoenix-like from the ashes."

An official announcement is expected later on Wednesday.

Read the full story on the BBC News website.

Jazz Connection - Christmas and beyond

Just to let you know that my Jazz Connection radio show will continue in 2009, one Thursday a month on south Wales community station GTFM 107.9.

It'll continue to be a showcase for the best of jazz in Wales with gig guides, CDs and interviews with local artists, plus the best new releases and classic tracks.

Thanks to Terry, Jen, and everyone at GTFM for giving me the opportunity to promote our music.

For info, my shows are due to go out 7 till 9pm on January 15, February 12, March 12, April 9, May 14, June 11 and July 9.

So if you've got anything major happening around those dates, we might be able to invite you onto the show as a live guest. Further details, playlists etc at www.jazz-connection.co.uk

In any case, I'm still keen to receive your CDs, gig news, demos and other info. For example, if anyone has any concrete information about the future of Brecon Jazz, I'd be interested to hear it - on or off the record.

GTFM can be heard on 107.9 FM in the south Wales valleys, reaching as far as Cardiff, and live online at
www.gtfm.co.uk. Still no word on when and whether Radio Cardiff will return - I'll keep you posted.

Given the patchy coverage of jazz on local BBC and commercial radio, community stations seem to be our best hope. Best wishes to Pete Canter who'll be presenting a jazz show on Exeter's Phonic FM from January.

If there's a community station in your home town or city why not give them a call and offer to present a jazz show if they don't already have one? The full list can be found at www.ofcom.org.uk - let me know if you get any joy.

On the live front, I'm still happy to pass on details of new venues opening up in south Wales - despite the credit crunch there seem to be quite a few bucking the trend and opening up, although not all of them last the course or maintain their initial interest in jazz. Hopefully we can keep each other informed on the places worth supporting.

Thanks very much for your continued support throughout 2008 and 2009 - have a great holiday. If you find yourself at a loose end - or needing some respite - on Christmas Day, check out my festive Jazz Connection on GTFM at 7pm.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gareth Roberts Quintet on tour

Cardiff-based trombonist Gareth Roberts takes his quintet on its debut UK tour in early 2009 thanks to a Jazz Services Promoters' Choice Award.

Brought up near Aberystwyth, Gareth is a familiar face on the south Wales jazz scene and released his quintet's debut album Attack of the Killer Penguins in 2006.

Gareth was nominated for the award by Brian Pretty of the Lichfield District Arts Association.

The tour dates are as follows:

  • 15 January 2009 - Birmingham Yardbird
  • 16 January 2009 - Lichfield Guildhall
  • 21 January 2009 - Swansea St James Social Club
  • 27 January 2009 - Newcastle-upon-Tyne Cluny
  • 29 January 2009 - London Spice of Life
  • 5 February 2009 - Cardiff Cafe Jazz
  • 25 February 2009 - Rossendale St Mary's Chambers
  • 11 March 2009 - Monmouth Queens Head Inn

  • Gareth cites Charles Mingus as his main influence as a composer, along with Horace Silver and Dave Holland.

    His favourite trombonists are Jimmy Knepper and Gary Valente, whose solo on an Andy Sheppard recording persuaded him to take up jazz after his early experiences of playing euphonium in brass bands.

    The line-up is completed by Gethin Liddington on trumpet, Paul Jones on piano, Chris O'Connor bass and Mark O'Connor drums.

    See www.garethtrombone.co.uk for more about his music.

    Thursday, December 04, 2008

    A Night in Georgia - many thanks!

    Thanks to everyone who helped make A Night in Georgia at Cafe Jazz in Cardiff a great success.

    This one-off evening of Eastern European tunes, Balkan beats and gypsy dances was staged to provide a showcase for Newport's very own Georgian gypsy punks Rogora Khart (pictured above) who went down a storm.

    Top marks to musical support acts Emese Hruska on violin, Jeff Japers on ukulele, and Cat Razzell on accordion - hard to believe she'd never played the instrument in public before.

    Thanks also to my bellydancing friends Rachel Jones aka Siluria and Stephanie who added a touch of gypsy glamour to the night.

    Don't forget our bellydance event at Cafe Jazz next Thursday 11 December - A Night in Tunisia with live music from Chas Whitaker on percussion and Maren Lueg on reeds.

    See the
    BBC South East Wales website for some more photos of A Night in Georgia.

    Monday, December 01, 2008

    A Night in Georgia - Weds 3 December

    I'm hosting an evening of live Balkan, gypsy and Eastern European music this Wednesday 3 December at Cafe Jazz, St Mary Street, Cardiff.

    It's called A Night in Georgia in honour of the headlining act, Newport's very own Georgian gypsy punks Rogora Khart (pictured above). After seeing them play TJs a few weeks ago, I just had to offer them a gig in the capital.

    They'll be supported by a range of attractions, including Hungarian violinist Emese Hruska, accordioniste Cat Razzell, klezmer dancing from Siluria, a Turkish gypsy dance from Stephanie, plus some upbeat Balkan beats on CD from myself as DJ, host and MC for the evening.

    Chances are there'll also be some surprise special guests as people are clamouring to be part of this event.

    The fun starts at 9pm and admission is £4.

    See www.myspace.com/rogorakhart for a taste of what to expect.