THE countdown to the 10th annual City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival is under way.
A launch party to celebrate the tenth birthday of the festival was held at the City Hotel this week and featured a taster of this year’s festival, which is being held on the May Day bank holiday weekend from Thursday April 28 to Sunday May 1.
The highlight of the launch was a performance by child prodigy Adreas Varady and his Quartet, one of the biggest hits of last year’s festival.
And local musician John Leighton chose the evening to launch his new album ‘Dramatic Life’, supported by musicians from all over Ireland including Mak McKnight, David Lyttle, Linley Jamilton, Dmaien Evans and Leeds vocalist Jess Berry.
Also performing were some of the North West’s upcoming young talent in the form of the WELB Jazz Ensemble and the Foyle College Jazz Ensemble.
Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra will top the bill for this year’s festival.
Speaking at the launch Derry mayor Colm Eastwood said: “Over the last decade the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival has grown to become one of the highlights of the social and cultural calendar in the city.
“This year’s festival again promises to show the city at its very best with tourists and visitors along with local people letting their hair down and enjoying everything the first ever UK City of Culture has to offer as we continue our build-up to 2013.”
The festival will once again be sponsored by Guinness and spokesman Richard Mayne said they were delighted to be involved.
“The festival is so successful and over the course of 10 years has established such a wonderful reputation that we are always proud to be a part of it.
“The Guinness Free Jazz Trail is now established as an essential part of the festival, bringing great musicians and fantastic music to venues in Derry for free.”
The festival is run by Derry city Council with additional funding from ILEX, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Airporter.
A council spokesman added: “This year’s festival will be a celebration of a dazzling decade of success to mark the tenth birthday.
“Now a staple on the international jazz festival circuit and one of the biggest events on the Irish cultural calendar, the festival attracts the biggest names in jazz and showcases our amazing local talent.
“Again it’s not to be missed!”