All that jazz

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BIG bands will be making a big noise at an annual music extravaganza.

More than 20 bands from across the North will flock to Sunderland University’s St Peter’s Campus for the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival.

The event will see bands compete in schools, youth and senior sections and will also feature jazz workshops.

 Festival director Bill Watson said: “The festival is now in its eighth year, and has gone from strength to strength. We have 500 people taking part this year, and it is always a terrific atmosphere.

 “Nowhere else in the North is offering a festival like this. As well as being a great base for young musicians in the area, the festival attracts people into the city.”

 In the past, the festival has featured performances from the BBC Big Band as well as from some of the world’s leading jazz soloists including Mark Nightingale and Steve Waterman.

 This year, The Bonded Warehouse, on Low Street, and North Shore, formerly Manor Quay, on Charles Street, will host the contest.

 The festival opens at 8pm on Friday, March 4, at the Bonded Warehouse with a concert by the Festival Big Band and virtuoso saxophonist Paul Jones of the BBC Big Band.

 It continues on Saturday, March 5, at 11am at North Shore on the university’s St Peters Campus, and will feature ten senior big bands in a competition, including previous winners, Newcastle University, York University and Leeds University.

 This will be followed by six of the leading youth bands from the North of England.

 The final day, March 6, begins with two big band workshops from 11am, and the schools big band competition will start at 2pm at North Shore.

 Tickets will be available at the door, priced £5. Admission is free for under 16s.