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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Brecon jazz draws bigger crowds
Brecon Jazz Festival, performer
Brecon Jazz bounced back from setbacks
The three-day Brecon Jazz Festival saw attendance figures rise by 5% this year.

The event had been hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis last year along with problems over funding, but the 19th annual festival attracted top name performers and large audiences.

Festival organiser Andy Eagle said he was convinced that the festival had maintained its reputation as one of the foremost jazz events in the world.

Brecon Jazz Festival performer
The festival attracted top performers

"We have attracted some of the best performers this year, such as McCoy Tyner, Antonio Forcione and Richard Bona, who was making his only UK appearance here at the festival," he said.

It is estimated more than 50,000 people visited the market town during the festival.

Police reported no major disorder problems in the mid Wales town, following incidents in recent years, with 46 arrests.

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

Other highlights at Brecon included performances from Courtney Pine, Scott Hamilton and the Mingus Big Band.

Andy Eagle, festival organiser
Andy Eagle: Delighted with event

Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan, a keen jazz fan, performed the opening honours at Captain's Walk bandstand off the town's main square at 1830 BST on Friday.

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.

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.

Buddy Guy at the Brecon Jazz Festival
Buddy Guy at the Brecon Jazz Festival

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, which is the equivalent of 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 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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales' Jon Gower
"The festival has a prominent place on the world jazz calendar"
See also:

10 Aug 02 | Wales
09 Aug 01 | Wales
12 Feb 01 | Wales
07 Feb 01 | Wales
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