Brecon Jazz festival 2013

Brecon Cathedral

Brecon Cathedral

Last weekend was all about Brecon Jazz festival. I really love this event and have been going almost every year since I discovered it a few years ago. Brecon on its own is worth visiting, it is a very nice cathedral town on the edge of Brecon Beacons National Park. It is very charming with narrow streets and little houses. When you come to Brecon, do not necessarily follow the Brecon Jazz website directions giving the Theatr Brycheiniog post code to sat nav users as its car park is not very spacious and it is better to choose the bigger car parks near Morrison’s or the tourist information. Brecon is small enough to walk around without worrying about the distance so whatever your choice would be, you should not get lost.

Brecon, near Theatr Brycheiniog

Brecon, near Theatr Brycheiniog

Not everyone likes jazz but I guess those who don’t like it, might not actually know how versatile it can be. I really like the quality of the music and how the musicians are able to improvise and become one with their music. I am also fascinated by how jazz is influenced by different music styles and cultures. Each year I try to choose a musician/band who I know and like and then I choose someone new. My choice is based on who sounds good on website and when I listen to their music samples on youtube.

This year I went to see Courtney Pine and Zoe Rahman Quintet. I saw both musicians in Brecon two years ago and I really liked their shows. Zoe is a lovely person and a great pianist. I wish she had more time to talk to us like when I saw her last time. Zoe’s band is really good, the music is influenced by her Bengali and Irish roots and it is all such a pleasure to listen, it makes you feel good and want to explore the world. The venue she played in, Brecon cathedral is a gem on its own. High stone walls and wooden roof added an extra element making the show even more interesting. Don’t be surprised when you see the Dean in a red hat and shorts introducing the musicians.

Brecon cathedral, Zoe Rahman concert

Brecon cathedral, Zoe Rahman concert

Courtney Pine always gives a good show, his music is highly influenced by Caribbean rhythms (or as he says by rum). I could not understand on Friday why people would not just stand up and start dancing. How can one sit when listening to such music I have no idea. On the other hand after I danced with others last 2 or 3 pieces, I realised that had I done it for 2 hours of the show (yes, 2 full-on hours), I wouldn’t be able to walk to the car afterwards. My last choice was Balanca, the band with Brazilian influences. I was a bit disappointed as I expected something more lively, more samba and less bossa nova. But overall, not bad at all.

Courtney Pine in the Market Hall, Brecon Jazz 2013

Courtney Pine in the Market Hall, Brecon Jazz 2013

If you just want to come and immerse yourself in the jazz atmosphere, you can just enjoy free fringe concerts or market stands around Brecon. I would recommend to hang out around Theatr Brycheiniog and the Cathedral if you want to listen to some good stuff and enjoy your time with the family or friends. There are plenty of food stands when one can get a burger, but I liked the most the grill stand near the Cathedral which offered more variety, like grilled hallumi or North African Merquez sausages served with couscous, lentils and flatbread. The Pilgrims Tea Rooms and Restaurant also situated near the Cathedral, is a great place to eat if you happen to be in Brecon, their food is delicious, and their homemade cakes will make you forget about the diet. If all you want to do is to get drunk and find a partner though, Brecon town centre with its pubs is the place to be at night. But maybe I should not mention it, I would rather Brecon jazz attracted more people who are actually interested in music.

Brecon at dusk

Brecon at dusk