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Festival hits a high note

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The directors of the third Newark Jazz Festival said it had surpassed the success of previous years, with even more venues packed with people attracted by the wide variety of music on offer.

The almost constant sound of jazz around the town was matched by the crowds who flocked to venues large and small to hear the 70 live performances during the weekend.

The festival directors were Mr Paul Sparks of Sparks Marketing, Mr Peter Duncan, a director of Ann et Vin and vice-chairman of Newark Business Club, jazz trumpeter and composer Mr Nathan Bray, and jazz pianist Mr Andrew Hall.

Mr Sparks praised the quality of the acts.

Guy Barker, David Newton and Pete Long were joined by Clark Tracey and Percy Pursglove at Ann et Vin on Saturday night.

“These are five of the top jazz performers in the UK,” said Mr Sparks.

“You would pay a lot of money to see those names in a big city.”

“The place was packed and people were having a ball, including some who would not normally listen to jazz.”

Mr Sparks said they hoped the festival would get better, but with an emphasis on quality.

“We are not looking to make it bigger and bigger in terms of numbers and size. We want to make sure what we do works and the quality improves,” he said.

Among the other big jazz names performing over the weekend were Victoria Hart at Newark Baptist Church on Saturday, Clare Martin and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett at the Palace Theatre on Saturday, the Tim Kliphuis Trio with Dave Newton in the Town Hall ballroom on Sunday and The Big Chris Barber Band at The Palace on Sunday.

Mr Sparks said the launch concert at the parish church was a huge success.

“People really responded to Nathan Bray’s suite,” he said. “It was all about Newark, by a Newark guy.”

Mr Duncan said: “The festival is moving forward.

“The quality is going up and we have had some terrific new venues.

“The support seems to be increasing and we would like it to continue.”

Mr Duncan said the festival had brought people into the heart of Newark where they could spend time and money in the town’s shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants.

He said the international flavour of the festival was good for the town.

“We have brought Shirley Alexander, an international star from New Orleans, and Tim Kliphuis, a leading violinist from Holland,” he said.

“It exposes to the world what Newark has to offer.”

Mr Bray said: “I thought last year it couldn’t get any better but this seems to have surpassed it.

“It has gone from strength to strength.

“I was so pleased to see all the youngsters coming along.

“A lot of people say jazz is for old people but clearly that is not the case. There have been lots of families with kids fascinated by the music.”

He said he was already looking forward to next year’s event.

“Every year there is something else that is highlighted that we think we can do better,” he said.

He wanted to continue to focus on the educational aspect of the festival and encourage more young people to get involved in jazz.

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