DARLINGTON will be alive to the sound of Jazz as a local music organisation gears up for its eighth festival over the May bank holiday weekend.

The Darlington Jazz Festival will coincide with the Darlington Food Festival, from Friday, May 3 to Sunday, May 5, with both free and paid-for performances being staged in a variety of venues around the town centre.

The festival originally began as a Darlington Jazz Club, weekend-long, music tribute to a peripatetic music teacher, Alf Hind, who taught brass to many young people in schools, through the Durham Music Service. The event was so well received and enjoyed by the residents and visitors to Darlington, that it was decided to hold it again the following year. It has now become an annual, three-day feature in the town’s events calendar.

The festival has attracted some big names in the Jazz world, to entertain and delight their audiences. Kicking everything off on Friday evening, at Voodoo Café, in Skinnergate, will be Jazz After Dark with Matt Roberts - charismatic Darlington-born, London-based trumpeter and composer - and his very own sextet, playing the music of Blue Mitchell.

This gig was a sell-out last year, so get there early and take in the jazz lounge atmosphere of the Voodoo Café.

May the ‘Fourth’ be with you on Saturday, as Echo 3 Coffee House & Roastery, in Clarks Yard, celebrates Star Wars Day, where customers will be greeted by the Galactic Empire.

A marquee will be installed in the Market Square from Saturday evening, to host a selection of some of the top UK artists. Leading drummer, Sebastiaan De Krom, brings an all-star quintet, including BBC Big Band Trumpeter Martin Shaw.

Sebastiaan graduated with a dual degree from Berklee College of Music, and went on to study a Masters degree at New England Conservatory. In 1995, he won the prestigious Buddy Rich award, and from 1997 to 1999 was the drummer for the renowned Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Performance Programme. Sebastiaan has performed with artists such as Herbie Hancock and John Scofield, and played regular sessions for Jamie Cullum from 2001 to 2008.

The Grand Finale on Sunday presents Born In The 1980s, featuring Matt Roberts directing the Durham Alumni Big Band in a fun, nostalgic gig of themes from the 1980s.

The Durham Alumni Big Band was formed in 2007, and features top musicians from the North-East and surrounding regions. Former winners of the Great North Big Band Festival, they have worked with top jazz artists, including Al Wood, Dave O’Higgins, Dennis Rollins, Mark Nightingale, Julian Siegel and many more.

There are a variety of free jazz performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, until 4pm, at Joseph Pease Place.

Shaune Eland, Darlington Jazz Festival organiser, said: “The enjoyment of the festival has grown year on year for performers and audiences alike, and we hope that this year will be no different. We’re excited that we have been able to team up with Darlington Food and Drink Festival and offer something special to suit all tastes.”

There will be lots more going on during the Festival, so to get more information, and to buy tickets, go to the Jazz Festival website, www.darlingtonjazzfestival.co.uk, or call in to Echo 3 Coffee House & Roastery, Clarks Yard, Darlington

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