One of the most important entries in the jazz-calendar is the impressive Wigan International Jazz Festival, now in its 25th year. Various venues around the town will host over 40 events, including workshops and seminars plus those all-important concerts from leading jazz-stars.
The festival takes place from 10th to 17th July inclusive and begins with an 11am performance at the town's Market Place Open Air Stage by two local jazz-ensembles, Wigan School Swing Band and the Wigan Youth Big Band, paving the way for the first large indoor concert at the Lowri-Beck Hall by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, directed by Tommy Smith. Tickets cost £19.
And so the festival continues with plenty of daytime activity as well as daily evening concerts that include the mighty jazz 'n' blues of the Big Chris Barber Band on Sunday 11th (£18), pianist-extraordinaire Monty Alexander, plus trio on Tuesday 13th (£20), 'the godfather of British Jazz' pianist Stan Tracey on Wednesday 14th (£20) and the double-header event on Thursday 15th featuring the modern pianist Gerald Clayton and Trio and vocal acapella group Take 6 (£22.50). The latter ensemble uses harmonies, gospel, jazz and emulation of musical instruments to create their unique sound.
Ex-chart star Curtis Stigers originally discovered success with his vocal-work in the late 80s/ early 90s with songs like "I Wonder Why" and "You're all that Matters", but has since used his voice and sax to a more jazzy degree in later years. He plays on the 16th, price £22.50. The whole festival ends on the 17th with a big-band bang starring the USA's Columbia Jazz Band and Drake University Jazz Ensemble - £16. This all looks a pretty thrilling prospect for jazz-heads and newcomers alike.