Category Archives: Friends’ News

Return of Junior Jazz to the Festival

The organisers of Brecon Jazz Festival 2019 have announced the return of ‘JUNIOR JAZZ’ to the Festival, with a concert to be held on Friday 8 August in the town centre.

JUNIOR JAZZ is a showcase for younger performers in an end of course concert, led and directed by Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Paula Gardiner. Paula, who is head of Jazz Studies at the College, has run this concert event for many years. It is the culmination of an intensive but fun week of teaching, coaching and rehearsing at the RWCMD in Cardiff, and will feature young musicians from the ages of 8 to 18 on stage. Festival audiences will recall these finale concerts held in Brecon in the past, and this year, in association with Paula Gardiner and her colleagues, the organisers are bringing the showcase concert back to the Festival. Tricia Keir, Head of the RWCMD’s pre-College department said they expected to feature a wide range of instrumentalists as well as vocalists, and they were all very pleased to be presenting as part of this year’s Brecon Jazz Festival.

This will be a FREE CONCERT that all can enjoy. Brecon Jazz Festival wants to show their support for what Paula and her colleagues are doing, the young players, and to give them the widest possible audience. So the free concert will be held in the town centre, as part of the afternoon Public Jazz programme, on Friday 8 August.

More details will be given nearer the time on this website. For any enquiries, please contact the BJ team by email on:

Steve Waterman to direct Friday night’s Big Band

FESTIVAL BIG BAND – Friday evening at the Castle Hotel Ballroom (Fri 9 August 2019)

We are delighted to announce that one of our top British trumpet players, STEVE WATERMAN has accepted the Festival organisers’ invitation to direct the Friday Big Band at Brecon Jazz this year. With an established reputation and as a dedicated jazz musician, composer and educationist, Steve regularly features on the UK, European and International jazz scene. He says: “I am really looking forward to directing and performing with the Festival Big Band on Friday 9th August at the Brecon Jazz Festival – and in the splendid Castle Hotel ballroom!..I’ve been working alongside the organisers Lynne & Roger to handpick an amazing group of musicians, and I’ll be bringing a selection of jazz arrangements and compositions (including my own) to showcase the talents of everyone involved”. He adds that “it will certainly produce a performance that can only be heard at this year’s festival, on Friday at the Castle at Brecon Jazz 2019!”.

The Festival organisers say it is great news that Steve Waterman is coming over, and also that last year’s Big Band Director, stellar trombonist Gareth Roberts, will join the lineup for 2019 too. Alongside Steve Waterman himself, who will feature on trumpet, will be a leading new jazz instrumentalist Charlotte Keeffe (on trumpet), alongside a dazzling set of UK and Welsh musicians including Alice Leggett (alto sax), Dan Messore (guitar), Paula Gardiner (double bass), Rebecca Nash (piano), Andrew Bain (drums), with more to be confirmed.

WEEKEND OVERVIEW : Thursday 8 August to Sunday 11 August 2019

This year – which is Brecon Jazz Festival’s 36th yearthe organisers are planning to programme from THURSDAY (8th August) in order to include a major event which will also be promoted to the town and surrounding area – a jazz orchestral work.

FRIDAY’s programme (9th August) will commence after lunchtime, from 2pm, with FREE JAZZ concerts and featuring young people, until around 4.30pm. This will be followed by another UK top name CHARITY concert at 6pm, and then the BIG BAND special at around 8-8.30pm (with meal beforehand) at the Castle Hotel.

On each of Saturday and Sunday, major concerts are planned. They will begin each weekend day at noon; the Festival will close on Sunday evening. Top UK, a number of European stars, and a leading US jazz name will be featured. More info in the weeks to follow.

VENUES this year will include the Brecon Guildhall Theatre, Castle Hotel, Wellington Hotel, Ty Helyg Guesthouse, St Marys Church, Brecon Cathedral, Theatr Brycheiniog the Muse, and we hope, the re-opened Y Gaer.

Brecon Jazz info: EMAIL: Website:

TICKETS: there will be inclusive ‘Weekender’ tickets covering 3 or 4 days, as well as Saturday and Sunday ’Day’ tickets.  FoBJ members will get a special discount which will be announced as soon as tickets are available. All concerts can also be booked individually, subject to availability.


Chris de Saram (10 June 1946–21 August 2018) . A life lived for jazz .

It is with great sadness that Wakefield Jazz announce that Chris de Saram, Wakefield Jazz promoter, has died aged 72.  Friends recall him deep in conversation in the clubhouse whilst studying the Brecon Jazz programme and the concerts he’d enjoyed.  He had an encyclopaedic  knowledge of jazz and a deep enthusiasm which he shared with everyone he met.  He will be greatly missed.

The following tributes have been received from fellow FoBJ members:

“Learnt more from him in a weekend than over many years.”, Mike Talbot, past Chairman FoBj

“Friendly, enthusiastic, outspoken and passionate jazz aficionado….appreciated by a wide age group.”, Marc Edwards

“We share Marc’s respect and liking for Chris and are sad to hear this news. He had been a member for years and was always a pleasure to talk to.” Arlene Jones.

The funeral will take place this Friday, 7 September. Please go to  to see details of funeral arrangements and how you can attend.

Helena, who sold Welsh Cakes at Brecon Jazz dies at 101 years

A centenarian who sold welsh cakes for charity at Brecon Jazz every year has died as she approached her 102nd birthday in August. Retired teacher and farmer, Helena Jones, became the oldest person to compete at the National Eidsteddfod, having learnt Welsh aged 90. She also took part in the Hay Festival aged 101. She received a BEM this year following her induction into the Gorsedd of the Bards in August of last year. She will be remembered by all who knew her for her energy and love of learning.