Sunderland ready for 11th Great North Big Band Jazz Festival

Jazz bands on stage at North Shore performing at the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival.

Jazz bands on stage at North Shore performing at the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival.

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HUNDREDS of talented musicians will be hitting the right note when they gather for one of the country’s biggest jazz festivals.

The Great North Big Band Jazz Festival is returning to Sunderland for the 11th successive year from Friday to Sunday, March 2, at the University of Sunderland.

It is estimated that since coming to Wearside the festival has attracted 200 bands, with more than 4,000 performers playing to well over 10,000 people on the banks of the Wear.

Based at the North Shore bar at the St Peter’s Campus, the event is now the largest Big Band Festival in the UK held under one roof.

Performers this year will include Paul Jones, a virtuoso saxophonist with the BBC Big Band, and Mick Donnelly, who has worked with Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Britney Spears and the Bee Gees.

Bill Watson, festival director, said: “Year on year we have been successful in extending the reach of The Great North Big Band Jazz Festival well beyond the North of England. With bands coming to Sunderland from as far afield as Cardiff, it’s fair to claim that the festival has a national profile.

“This year, with support from the University of Sunderland and the Sir James Knott Trust we have been able to give Sunderland youngsters the opportunity to participate in a series of free professionally tutored jazz workshops, with the most promising performing at festival.”

The festival launches at 8pm with the Paul Jones/Mick Donnelly Quintet, Whitburn Academy Big Band and the Festival Big Band and will continue across Saturday with the open section on stage from 11am to be followed by a concert given by three bands from 6.30pm. The schools section will then begin on Sunday at 11am.

Admission to all the events is £8, free to children under 16. Tickets are available at the door on the night. Free parking is available.

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