After some turbulent times, Brecon Jazz now seems to be in safe hands, with new operator Orchard serving up an impressive line-up of established stars and emerging talent. Among those surely destined for fame is Anthony Strong, who wowed a packed Theatr Brycheiniog on Saturday.
With a show as sharp as his suit, 28-year-old Strong punches out his arrangements of much-loved songbook classics, as well as his own compositions.
We were treated to standards including Stepping Out (the title track of his new album), Too Darn Hot (which, by the way, has a great video), Luck Be a Lady, and Witchcraft.
His own work ranged from the jokey, chirpy Earlybird (“Let the earlybird get the worm/ I’d be happy sleeping in with you”) to the heartbreaking Learning to Unlove You (“Getting to forget you will be like tearing down/ The palace of your image in my mind/ Take one last look around/ And burn it to the ground/ Unloving you will take a little time”).
Comparisons with Jamie Cullum are inevitable, and Strong could easily become the successor to the crown as Britain’s leading jazz vocalist. It may be a while before he is selling in the millions and filling stadia, but judging from the audience reaction (and post-concert CD sales), it really could be just a matter of time.
Elsewhere in Brecon, this weekend, Cardiff-based events and media company Orchard served up an expanded programme, headlined by Jools Holland and Courtney Pine. Expect even bigger and better for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
You may also be interested in my take on the Love Supreme festival and this previous post on Brecon Jazz.
Photos: top – by me, in bar; middle – by Anthony Strong, taken from the stage during Saturday’s show; bottom – cover of Stepping Out.
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