This year's fantastic line-up combines top UK talent such as Ginger Baker, Gwilym Simcock, The Neil Cowley Trio, Claire Martin, Stan Tracey, Andy Sheppard, YolanDa Brown, Kit Downes and Soweto Kinch with some major international names including Dionne Warwick and Roy Ayers.
Here are some of the festival highlights:
Huw Warren, Thomas Strønen, Peter Herbert: Friday 10th August: 18.00: Brecon Cathedral: WOMEX
A unique international collaboration devised by Brecon Jazz 2012 artist in residence Huw Warren, one of the most eclectic composers / musicians in the UK, with the Welsh pianist teaming up with some of the most creative and innovative players on the international jazz scene. Thomas Strønen is at the forefront of the vibrant Norwegian scene on drums, percussion and electronics, working solo and with Meadow, Humcrush and Food (duo with UK saxophonist Iain Ballamy on Saturday at Brecon), and eclectic Austrian bassist Peter Herbert
Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion: Friday 10th August: 18.30: Theatr Brycheiniog
Legendary rock drummer, Ginger Baker, renowned for his work with Cream and Blind Faith, teams up with tenor saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth, and African percussionist Abass Dodoo for some progressive jazz originals in a Thelonious Monk style with exciting African rhythms.
Neil Yates: Five Countries: Friday 10th August: 20.00: Brecon Guildhall
Trumpeter Neil’s music has been described by Jazz UK as "fresh, vibrant and original,” as “a rare sound innovator” and “a discreet virtuoso” by The Guardian. Five Countries was released in 2011 on Cardiff's Edition Records to great acclaim. Brecon Jazz 2012 will see Yates performs evocative music from the album in an intimate trio with Hungarian/Romanian acoustic guitarist Zsolt Bende and Jim Hart on vibraphone and percussion.
Kit Downes Quintet Friday 10th August: 21.00: Brecon Cathedral
Described by The Observer as 'Everyone's favourite young pianist… unpretentiously brilliant and full of subtle touches,' Kit’s debut album 'Golden' received a Mercury Prize nomination, he is a gifted composer and sparkling improviser, whose music has a cinematic, storytelling quality that draws the listener in.
Dionne Warwick: Friday 10th August 2012 : 20.30 : Brecon Market Hall
'Scintillating', 'soothing' and 'sensual' best describe the familiar and legendary voice of this cornerstone of American pop music and culture. Warwick's career this year celebrates 50 years, and has established her as an international music icon and concert act, with more than sixty charted hit songs and over 100 million records sold. She began singing professionally in 1961 after being discovered by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. She had her first hit in 1962 with 'Don't Make Me Over' and followed up with classics such as 'Walk On By', 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' and 'Say A Little Prayer'.
Indigo Kid: Saturday 11th August: 15.00: Brecon Guildhall
“An encounter between two generations of musicians that makes us think back to how much there is to discover in the British scene.” All About Jazz. Indigo Kid's leader is guitarist/composer Dan Messore, a player with a warm, full, tone and a talent for moderately paced but fluid single note runs. He shares the frontline with tenor saxophonist Trish Clowes, whilst rhythmic foundations are provided by bassist Aidan Thorne and drummer James Maddren. The quartet has an acute sense of dynamics and pace, giving Messore's compositions a vibrancy and emotional connection that heightens their impact.
Trio Libero: Sat 11th August: 18:00: Brecon Cathedral
'The coolly moody tunes seep through your speakers like a series of poetic mists. Performing the graceful trick of being both airy and weighty, it’s a wintry treat'. The Metro. Trio Libero is British saxophonist Andy Sheppard, French bassist Michel Benita and British drummer Seb Rochford. From Rochford's part in Polar Bear to Benita's collaborations with Archie Shepp and Lee Konitz, Trio Libero is shaped by three leading individuals from today's jazz scene.
Lighthouse: Saturday 11th August: 19:00: Theatr Brycheiniog Jazz4Jed
The FT said: 'Three remarkable musicians with an uncanny unity of thought and feeling. Virtuosity may be taken for granted nowadays, but this music demands it.' The hugely successful trio punch deep into exciting groove-based tunes, inspired Celtic rhythms and an eclectic mix of Chick Corea, Bill Bruford, Yellowjackets, John Coltrane, and DJ Carl Cox. Grammy winner Tim Garland and Mercury-nominated pianist Gwilym Simcock are two of the most outstanding composers of our time in both Jazz and classical genres and are regarded as among the very best in the world on their respective instruments. They are joined by Asaf Sirkis on drums and percussion. This concert is a tribute concert to Jed Williams, one of the founders and the long-time Artistic Director of the Brecon Jazz festival, and a fundraiser for Jazz4Jed, the bursary established in his name to help Jazz talent in Wales.
Paula Gardiner Trio: Saturday 11th August: 20.00: Brecon Guildhall
'… a remarkably wide sonic palette for a trio' The Jazzman.com One of Britain’s most lyrical and melodic bass players, Paula Gardiner is also an accomplished classical guitarist and flautist. Her presence on the Welsh Jazz scene and with Brecon in particular, has been an inspiring one, having played at Brecon Jazz since 1986, Paula also heads up the Jazz course at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and is the Honorary President of the Swansea-based organisation, Women in Jazz.
Roy Ayers: Saturday 11th August: 21.00: Market Hall
Vibraphonist/vocalist Roy Ayers is among the best-known, most-loved and respected jazz/R&B artists on the music-scene today. Now in his fourth decade in the music business, Ayers, known as the Godfather of Neo-soul, continues to bridge the gap between generations of music lovers. His music has been sampled by industry heavyweights including Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Tupac and Ice Cube.
Claire Martin: Saturday 11th August: 21.30 : Brecon Cathedral
The New York Times said of Claire: 'In an era when young jazz singers tend to sound far too much like their idols, there is no mistaking the voice of Claire Martin who combines a cool, burnished tone with the ear of a born musician'. Claire’s trademark cocktail of standards, sass and swing has her marked down as one of the finest female British jazz singer of her generation, and she is the voice of BBC Radio 3’s weekly Jazz show ‘Jazz Line Up'.
YolanDa Brown: Sunday 12th August 2012 : 14.30 : Theatr Brycheiniog
'An animated saxophonist who sounds as if she listens to Sonny Rollins as much as to the soul-sax tradition, Brown has a big, lustrous sound and considerable subtlety.' The Guardian. Double MOBO Award-winning saxophonist Yolanda is one of the most exciting, in-demand live performers, widely regarded as the emerging voice of mainstream Jazz in the UK. She has toured with The Temptations, Errol Brown, Courtney Pine and Diana Krall and collaborated with artists such as Mica Paris, Soweto Kinch and as part of Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
The Joe Webb Trio: Sunday 12th August: 15.00: Brecon Guildhall
Fronted by young Welsh jazz pianist, Joe Webb, the band was formed in 2009 when Joe met bassist Huw V Williams and drummer Lloyd Haines whilst studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The band have played around the country through various different projects and earlier this year they recorded for the first time featuring all Joe's compositions on an album called ‘Night Song’.
Alan Barnes Duo: Sunday 12th August 2012: 13.30: Brecon Cathedral
Jazz Review said of Alan: “Barnes underlines his position as a key figure on the UK scene. He is a fluent, inventive improviser on a number of horns who can swing with the best of them.” Alan came to our attention through the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the Jazz Renegades, and for a decade ran the Pizza Express Modern Jazz Sextet with Gerard Prescencer and Dave O’Higgins. He has worked with the leading big bands, and is a member of Guy Barker’s Orchestra. In 2001 and 2006 he received the prestigious BBC Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year award. He appears at Brecon with long-time collaborator, the pianist and composer Dave Newton, who has been voted Best Jazz Pianist six times in the British Jazz Awards.
Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins Play Monk: Sunday 12th August: 16.30: Brecon Cathedral
“Stan really is a national treasure. In his 80s, he's playing better than ever.” Jazzwise. The collaboration between Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins, which began in the early Sixties, has produced some of the finest jazz this country has ever heard, including the classics ‘Under Milk Wood Suite’, ‘Alice In Jazz Land’, and a host of other recordings since then. Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins, as part of a quartet featuring Andy Cleyndert and Clark Tracey, will perform the music of Thelonious Monk, a major influence on them, at the majestic Brecon Cathedral.
The Soweto Kinch Trio: Sunday 12th August: 18.30: Theatr Brycheiniog
The Guardian said of Soweto: “It’s a clever and entertaining juxtaposition of idioms that kicks pure Jazz and authentic rap into a brave new world.” Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians to hit the British Jazz and Hip Hop scenes in recent years, whose appeal traverses the underground and mainstream audiences of both genres. Fortunate in counting Courtney Pine OBE and Gary Crosby as mentors, as a saxophone player, Soweto rapidly developed his own rich, energetic and dynamic sound. Soweto’s ‘Conversations With The Unseen’ was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and he has earned a clutch of awards over the years, including the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 2003.
Black Mountain Jazz: Sunday August 12th: 20.00: Brecon Guildhall
Black Mountain Jazz presents The Sarah Gillespie Quartet featuring Kit Downes (piano), eclectic Jazz sounds with lyrics influenced by Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Bessie Smith. The quartet features pianist Kit Downes, who appears elsewhere on the Brecon programme. The quartet also has the versatile and creative Enzo Zirilli on drums and the great rhythmic drive of Ben Bastin on double bass.
The Neil Cowley Trio: Sunday 12th August: 20.30: Brecon Cathedral
“A smart splicing of punchy themes and chord--‐belting, rock--‐piano climaxes… it's hard to resist its eager warmth, and invitation to dance.” The Guardian. A dazzling composer, pianist Cowley creates deeply engaging, and dynamic music that journeys between poetic and poignant, pomp and splendour to powerful rip-roaring riffs. It is instrumental music that references Debussy and Steve Reich as much as Spiritualized and Arcade Fire, and is powerful enough to break down standard perceptions of genre. Its sheer emotion and energy touch lovers of all music.
Tickets for all shows will be available from www.breconjazz.com from Saturday 9th June. The box office telephone number is 01874 611622 (Theatr Brycheiniog) and the 24-Hour telephone booking number is 0844 858 8521.