In this age of smartphones, aps, itunes, Spotify, digital downloads, it is extraordinary that a venue serving up live music every week has made it through to its 30th year, even more remarkable is that the music is jazz!
Wakefield Jazz is now thirty years old and to celebrate this milestone they have organised Wakefield’s very first jazz festival this month comprising five fabulous gigs.
Founded in 1987 by Faith and Alec Sykes, Wakefield Jazz rapidly became one of the UK’s premier jazz venues. Celebrated for its warm and friendly atmosphere Wakefield Jazz is much appreciated by jazz musicians from around the world for its intimate atmosphere.
Over the years many jazz greats have performed at the venue including Jamie Cullum who gave a stunning rendition of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy, Clare Teal who turned up and put on a great performance a couple of days after she had signed a million pound deal with Sony. Other highlights include a performance from Junior Mance that nearly went on all night and a stunning Christmas gig with Claire Martin and Ian Shaw.
In recent years the club has broadened its programming policy and as a result is discovering a whole new range of audiences. The club was the first to be recognised by the Parliamentary Jazz Awards as “Best Venue” and has been nominated twice since. It has also received local recognition for its contribution to the community.
To celebrate thirty years WJ promoter Chris de Saram has put together five outstanding nights of Jazz. “Withdrawal of arts funding over recent years has not always made it easy but it’s always a pleasure to bring top national and international artists to Wakefield Jazz,” he says. “They love playing here in a proper free and easy jazz club atmosphere. Here’s hoping these five festival gigs are the prelude to another 30 years of live music”
They kick off on May 5 with York’s Ian Chalk and his Firebird Quartet. This gig will be attended by Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield. On May 12 Canadian trumpeter Jay Phelps performs with his lively band, next up on May 19 are the Jonathan Gee Quartet featuring saxophonist Tim Whitehead.
There will be a rare visit to the UK by Stan Tracey protégé pianist Dominic Galea on May 26 and the final gig on June 2 will feature Denys Baptiste playing homage to John Coltrane.
Details and to book visit www.wakefieldjazz.org