Countdown on for special 20th Jazz Festival

JAZZ FESTIVAL 2021 LAUNCH. . . The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Brian Tierney pictured launching the 2021 City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival at Guildhall Square on Thursday morning. The festival will run from April 30-May 2. Included are .Johnny Murray, former artistic director, City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival, Andrea Campbell, festival organiser, DCSDC, and Joseph Leigh, jazz musician. (Photo: Jim McCafferty Photography)

Get ready for another special bank holiday weekend as jazz fever arrives for the 20th edition of the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band festival.

The festival will take place from Friday to Sunday and will see plenty of virtual performances from fan favourites and local students.

One of the highlights will include ‘Gigs from the Guildhall’ which will see nine acts performing virtually across three stages on each day of the festival, streamed live for everyone to enjoy from their own homes.

Something that will be sure to catch the eye of many Jazz Festival lovers will be the virtual live performance of festival favourites the Jive Aces on Friday night at 7pm that will bring back lots of memories of past years.

On Saturday at 7pm, Ulster University’s Jazz Trio, Matt Curran, Liam Bradley and Rohan Armstrong will deliver a virtual performance of “Straight No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk that is not to be missed.

North West Regional College will also be involved in the Jazz programme with masterclasses and performances delivered by Richard Nelson, Mike Nielson and Philip Begley marking the introduction of the MAPA Jazz Education program where well-known artists engage with music students and explore the wondrous world of Jazz.

Then, on Sunday at 7pm, music students from NWRC’s School of Music and Performing Arts will be virtually performing a series of cover tunes that have been adapted to a jazz setting.

You can expect to hear songs from a diverse mix of influences including Radiohead, Nina Simone, Motown artists, Peter Gabriel and lots more.

There will also be a visual arts exhibition and small Inside Out outdoor music trail of local acts.

And if that wasn’t enough, a special documentary will be available on Sunday at 3pm, covering the original launch of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival in 2002 and how it went from 6,000 attendees to the 63,000 that enjoyed the last in-person festival in 2019, with hundreds of acts playing over 70 venues in the city.

Through the ‘Legacy of Jazz’ documentary by local film maker Ruairi Campbell, you can hear from festival founders and Jazz artists who have taken part in the festival and a reflection on the journey to this stage.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, said there will be no better way to celebrate the bank holiday weekend.

“The Jazz Festival is always such a fantastic occasion for our city and district and this year will be no different on what is a landmark edition for this event.

“Like last year the programme will be a virtual one, but that won’t stop everyone across our district and beyond enjoying the incredible talent of our local acts.

“There is so much to look forward to and so many festival favourites that I know everyone will be excited to see.

“After what has been one of the toughest years that many of us have faced, having such a positive event to look forward to and enjoy is a great boost. This event will celebrate so many of our amazing local musicians so make sure you tune in.”

The Inside Out Visual Arts Programme is organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council with funding through the Department of Communities’ Business Revitalisation and Recovery Programme. 

Performances will be streamed on the City of Derry Jazz Festival website and Facebook page.

Visit the website and see the full schedule of events at

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