2016 was a special year for Brecon Jazz – the year of its thirty-third birthday. It was also the moment of its reinvention.
A group of local partners, organisations and volunteers came together in order to plan a more community-led Festival, perhaps a little smaller in scale but not in imagination. It was 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 made 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 observes, 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 helped us all to move on and to walk forward together, invited by the jazz club and led by musician and music therapist Erika Lyons.
The ‘year of BJ 2016’ began in 2015 when 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 at the Theatre. It comprised a wide range of representatives, from places and spaces, businesses, arts and civic groups, funders and stakeholders, and chaired through Friends of Brecon Jazz, a national organisation in support of the specialness of ‘BJ’ and its unique annual Festival. The story continues. Be part of it please in 2017.