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.
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.
Photos: top – by me, in bar; middle – by Anthony Strong, taken from the stage during Saturday’s show; bottom – cover of Stepping Out.