The 30th North Wales International Jazz Guitar Weekend hosted by North Wales Jazz was an outstanding success. It took place at Glyndwr University, Wrexham, North Wales on the weekend of April 12th – 14th and was attended by students from all over the UK, and mainland Europe.
This year we had a new format which was designed to replace the old two group system and judging by the record enrolment of 43 students was welcomed by all. The new format introduced a five group and five tutors system which meant smaller groups with an emphasis on more playing in class and enabled more individual attention to be given to the students. The groups were decided by asking each student to choose five tunes from the list that was provided beforehand that he/she would be most comfortable with in order to get the most out of the weekend. When they had chosen the five tunes they were allocated to a group with other students who had chosen similar tunes. The jazz standards listed varied from challenging to less challenging.
The five guest tutors for the April weekend were leading American jazz guitarist Vic Juris, British jazz guitarists Pat Sprakes, Paul Vernon Chester, Les Bolger and myself as the resident tutor.
The jazz guitar weekend commenced on Friday evening with a welcome speech to let everyone know exactly what was happening over the weekend. Students then went to their appropriate groups and teaching commenced at 7.30pm. Each group was allocated a room and on this occasion the students stayed in the same room all weekend and the tutors moved from group to group allowing the students to have a two hour session with each tutor.
Saturday and Sunday lunchtime highly popular student jam sessions were held in the University’s restaurant which worked out very well. Students were accompanied by Ed Harrison (double bass) and Hugh Lawrence (drums). Some great playing all round.
A well attended Saturday evening concert was held at the Catrin Finch Centre, which is situated on the University campus. The concert featured all of the tutors who were accompanied by Ed Harrison (double bass) and Dave Hassell (drums).
Sunday continued with the teaching and, as previously mentioned, the student jam session.
Judging by the feedback the five group and five tutor format is here to stay. Let’s hope North Wales Jazz is able to secure the funding for the next event.