Marlborough Jazz Festival: Nearly 30 years on and growing in popularity

This Is Wiltshire: Nick Fogg at Marlborough International Jazz Festival Nick Fogg at Marlborough International Jazz Festival

Marlborough International Jazz Festival runs from Friday, July 18, to Sunday, July 21, turning the town into Wiltshire’s very own New Orleans

Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the germination of a seed of an idea by the then mayor of Marlborough, Nick Fogg, writes NIGEL KERTON.

Marlborough International Jazz Festival has since grown into one of the most respected jazz events in the world and one of the biggest and longest running in the UK.

Mr Fogg was one of a group of forward-thinking individuals who came up with the idea of a cultural festival in Marlborough. The first one, in 1986 included flowers in the churches, music and art.

From it sprang the annual Open Studios event in which artists over a wide area around Marlborough throw open their studios for the public to visit and a jazz festival later to be named the Marlborough International Jazz Festival as it began to attract top performers from all around the world.

The festival has since grown in size and international repute with Mr Fogg as its indefatigable director.

During the festival visitors are never more than a few feet from the music.

Yes, the MIJF does have a big marquee where the top acts perform, but Nick Fogg says the beauty of the event is that it spreads out through the town at pubs, clubs and any other venue big enough to hold a few musicians and spectators.

Even the town’s fire station in The Parade is pressed into service and the fire engines are parked at the side ready to spring into action while festival-goers bop to a variety of international sounds.

On Saturday this year the fire station will feature musicians from the USA and Spain while a few yards down the road at the Old Ropeworks musicians and singers from Africa will be heard on the African Bandstand.

But while the Marlborough jazz festival has become truly international, it has never forgotten its roots and bands and singers from all over the UK sill attract big audiences.

This year these will include Ramsbury Silver Band, Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, Marlborough Big Band and others.

Not to be missed, said festival director Mr Fogg, is local lad and St John’s student Ben Cipolla who last year was spotted busking in the High Street during the festival by none other than Clare Teal who returns again as the headline act this year.

This year he will appear instead, with friends, as the Ben Cipolla Band playing in Marlborough Fire Station from 8pm.

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