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Sir Karl Jenkins’ jazz to be performed at Swansea festival

The early jazz music of legendary composer Sir Karl Jenkins will feature at this year’s Swansea International Jazz Festival.

As part of his 80th birthday year celebrations, Sir Karl, who is also Patron of the Festival, has arranged the works with bassist and composer Laurence Cottle, whose All-Star Big Band will perform. Returning to the genre for the first time in fifty years, Sir Karl will also introduce the concert.

The concert, entitled Back, Down Another Road: The Jazz Music of Sir Karl Jenkins, will feature jazz tunes by Sir Karl including “Down Another Road”, “Elastic Rock” (the title track from the first Nucleus album), “Lullaby for a Lonely” Child and more.

Sir Karl, who grew up near Swansea in neighbouring Penclawdd, began his musical career in the London jazz scene fifty years ago after completing postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where he performed at Ronnie Scott’s before winning first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Nucleus.

He is now well known for his classical compositions and is one of the most performed living composers in the world, with his seminal piece The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace recently reaching number 4 in the 2024 Classic FM Hall of Fame, the highest entry for a living composer.

Sir Karl Jenkins said: “When I left Cardiff University in 1966 for the Royal Academy of Music, I soon became involved in the London jazz scene, joining Graham Collier’s Septet, then later co-formed Nucleus (which won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in the 1970s) before joining the seminal band Soft Machine.

“Composing much of the music for these groups, one of my early tunes was ‘Down Another Road’- hence ‘Back, Down Another Road’ as a heading for the event, returning to a genre I left fifty or so years ago, but still dearly love.”

Swansea Council is pleased to be presenting the Swansea International Jazz Festival, which also features music from the Adrian Cox Quartet, Denny Illet’s Electric Lady Big Band, Moscow Drug Club, and The Stacey Brothers’ Big Band Steely Dan project, plus Nigel Hitchcock and Mark Nightingale in a special opening gala celebrating Sir Karl’s birthday, and 75 years of live jazz music in Swansea.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration, and tourism, said: “Sir Karl Jenkins is one of today’s best-loved composers, renowned for his classical works like The Armed Man, which reached number four in this year’s Classic FM Hall of Fame.

“However, Sir Karl’s career started in jazz and it’s great to see him coming home to Swansea, marking his 80th birthday with a return to his early music. He’s teamed up with another local boy and amazing musician, Laurence Cottle, to create new arrangements of his jazz compositions.

“We’re proud of Sir Karl’s contributions to music and honoured to be hosting a special gala celebrating his 80th birthday and 75 years of live jazz music in Swansea. Both the gala and concert are events not to be missed and those attending are in for a real treat.”

Back, Down the Road: The Jazz Music of Sir Karl Jenkins comes to the Swansea International Jazz Festival on 14 June 2024 at Museum Park at 8.30pm. Tickets are available now at enjoyswanseabay.com.