The City of Oxford Set to Become the Jazz Capital of the Country

The final preparations are being made for the first ever annual Oxford Jazz Festival - a four-day jazz spectacular, which will see some of the UK's finest musicians from the world of Jazz performing across the city.

The Oxford Jazz Festival is taking place over the Easter weekend 2009 (9th – 12th April), and will be the first annual festival of its kind in Oxford. Concerts and gigs will be taking place in some of the city's most magical venues, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Jacqueline du Pré Music building, the North Wall Arts Centre, St Michael at the North Gate - the oldest building in Oxford, and the Oxford Union Debating Chamber, which is opening its doors for a rare public performance.

Some of the highlights of the festival include Ian Shaw, twice winner of the BBC Jazz awards headlining the festival's grand finale at the Debating Chamber, Gwyneth Herbert with her engaging lyrics and rich voice performing at the North Wall Arts Centre, and Julian Siegel, one of the most in-demand saxophonists on the European Jazz scene today playing at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building.

The star-studded line up will not only appeal to jazz lovers, but to fans of all musical genres, in the hope of introducing jazz to a much wider audience. The festival will see jazz spread across the city, from small gigs in local bars and restaurants, and buskers on the street, to full-scale ticketed concerts.

Local musicians are encouraged to get involved, with a Jazz Jam taking place every night of the festival at the Jazz Cellar at The Big Bang. From 10.30pm till late, musicians of all abilities can come along to jam, and receive tips and advice from the professionals. Youngsters will also be encouraged to get involved, with the 'Jazz-Factor' competition. Schools in Oxfordshire will be invited to participate in the competition where aspiring young jazz musicians will perform at the Wesley Memorial Church, with a cash prize and professional gig on offer for the winners.

The Oxford Jazz Festival ( will create a truly musical buzz over the Easter weekend, and will be the perfect climax to a fortnight of cultural events across the city, beginning with The Sunday Times Literary Festival and spanned throughout by Oxfringe. The spotlight will be firmly fixed on Oxford, providing the perfect opportunity to showcase the finest musical talents amongst the backdrop of one of the UKs most beautiful cities.

In the lead up to the festival, the North Wall Arts Centre will be hosting three festival pre-event concert specials entitled 'Jazz Master Series'. The first features Mark Bassey, one of the UK's leading jazz trombonist who is also highly regarded as a composer and arranger (23rd January). The second will see sax virtuoso Alan Barnes take the stage (18th February), and finally Steve Waterman - one of the top British jazz trumpet players both at home and on the international circuit - will literally blow you away! (21st March). Each of the three acts will be supported by local rhythm section '3bpm'.

With Oxford's vibrant and fast-growing jazz scene, the Oxford Jazz Festival promises to be a huge success, and in time the Festival will grow into an annual event to match the very best jazz festivals worldwide.

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