Oxford Jazz Festival 2009

This year's Oxford Jazz Festival was launched with a 'pre-event' at the North Wall Arts Centre on 23 January 2009. The Jazz Elite Series - three, once-monthly performances in the lead-up to the Oxford Jazz Festival - began with Mark Bassey, one of Britain's finest trombonists, supported by local trio 3bpm.

Jazz trombonist Mark Bassey has been described as "a superb and witty player"; "a highly versatile musician who's playing can stretch from raucous to an exquisite sound with perfect phrasing". The witty side of Bassey's character was in evidence; with the audience treated to what can only be described as stand-up comedy between numbers. Bassey played a mix of styles throughout the evening from bop to funk, including some self-penned numbers, and original work by Martin Pickett (3bpm pianist). Of the solo's performed, most notable were Bassey's super dynamic stretches on 'Alone Together' and Paul Jefferies' (3bpm) beautifully lyrical bass work on Pickett's original piece, 'Soft Focus'. There was a special treat for Basie and Hefty fans with a totally swinging version of 'Jive at Five' and 'Fidgets'.

Bassey's performance was an opportunity to announce that tickets for the Oxford Jazz Festival, which will take place over Easter (9-12 April), and annually thereafter, have officially gone on sale. New performances have recently been added to the already stellar list of musicians. Jazz/classical fusion group Eclectica! will be performing at St. Michael at the North Gate, Oxford's oldest building, and renowned saxophonist, Gilad Atzmon, will be giving a free performance with Sarah Gillespie at the Corner Club. Alissa Robinson, co-founder of the Festival said, "the calibre of performers at the Oxford Jazz Festival are world class, and we feel the Festival will be a fantastic reason to come to Oxford over the long weekend, rather than holidaying abroad."

The Festival brings to a close a cultural fortnight, including the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival and OxFringe, and will put Oxford firmly on the map as the destination of choice for the UK in April, giving a much needed boost to tourism.

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