Every year is special for Brecon Jazz Festival – and 2018 will be no different – which which is about to celebrate its 35th year. 2016 & 2017 were also special as these were the moments of its reinvention. A group of local partners and organisations came together in order to plan a more community-led Festival, perhaps a little smaller in scale but not in imagination. It has been a learning journey, taking elements from the past – iconic spaces, a mix of headlines, street scene, social and folk activities, indoor and outdoor venues – and the features of the present. With fewer financial resources, we are making more use of our friends, networks and people, drawing on talent near to hand – or returning – helping us to reimagine a connected festival and weekend of celebration.
The jazz club has also been instrumental in curating special lineups and in drawing together, combining established and new talents, which you will find here. As Tina May observed in 2016, these special ensembles have not been seen or heard together before. Thus something new emerges from this artistic/organisational collaborative process.
So too, the contemporary need not just for ‘celebration’ and ‘festivity’ in the summer calendar but for ‘wellbeing’, and its importance in our artistic, cultural, professional as well as family or personal life is recognised. A special series of workshops gently heled us all to move on and to walk forward together, invited by the jazz club and led by musician and a music therapist. In 2015 and again in 2016 Brecon Town Council met to agree its support for a Jazz Festival despite some past difficulties of operation. By new year, a group had formed and was meeting regularly. It comprised a wide range of representatives, from places and spaces, businesses, arts and civic groups, funders and stakeholders, and Friends of Brecon Jazz, a national organisation specifically in support of the Festival.