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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Brecon in harmony with jazz event
The square at Brecon
The mid Wales town is given over to four days of music
First Minister Rhodri Morgan officially opened the Brecon Jazz Festival weekend on Friday even though some performers had already been getting into the swing of things.

The international-renowned Chicago-based blues guitarist, Buddy Guy, kicked off the event on Thursday night with a packed performance in the Usk marquee.

Brecon Jazz Festival march
The festival attracts traditionalists and fans of more modern jazz

The festival - now in its 19th year - is regarded as a music mecca for people across the world.

About 50,000 people are expected to flock to the market town - nestling in the rural splendour of the Brecon Beacons National Park - over the weekend.

Mr Morgan performed the opening honours at Captain's Walk bandstand off the town's main square at 1830 BST on Friday.

The evening's programme included the internationally-acclaimed saxophonist Courtney Pine.

In addition to concerts by more modern artists, the festival also provides an opportunity for traditional jazz lovers to see a variety of impromptu street performances.

A Brecon bakery during the jazz festival
The festival brings 1m to the town's businesses

Visitors can also purchase "stroller" tickets, allowing them to move from venue to venue to see up to 60 other performances.

Festival Chairman Jill Body said: "We believe we have something to suit every taste."

The jazz event costs 450,000 to stage, but ticket sales raise just over half of that.

The remainder of its income is made through souvenir sales during the festival's four days.

The festival was one of very few events in mid Wales that carried on last year despite severe restrictions as a result of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

It brings an estimated 1m to the area's economy, equivalent to 23 full-time jobs.

In 2001, organisers signed a three-year sponsorship deal with BBC giving the corporation exclusive rights to transmit TV and radio coverage of the festival.

Last year it opened a day earlier than usual to host a performance by the Irish rock star, Van Morrison.

For jazz lovers who come from all over the world, it is becoming one of the most important dates in their diary.

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 ON THIS STORY
First Minister, Rhodri Morgan
"Musicians tell me that this is the jazz festival, anywhere in the world, that they want to play at."
BBC Wales's Melanie Doel
"The festival brings in 1m to the local economy, the equivalent to 23 full-time jobs."
See also:

09 Aug 01 | Wales
12 Feb 01 | Wales
07 Feb 01 | Wales
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