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Budding young musicians are tuning up to join in the fun at the sixth annual Darlington Jazz Festival later this month (27-30 April).

The festival promises a host of high quality, diverse performances across the town centre and will be the spectacular launch event the month-long Darlington Arts Festival (27 April-31 May) coordinated by Darlington for Culture.

Pupils from Reid Street Primary School and St George’s Church of England Academy have been invited to take part in a special Train Music Project led by Durham Music School (DMS) and the festival’s ‘composer in residence’, jazz educator and trumpeter Matt Roberts.

The composition and improvisation workshop, at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum on Tuesday 25 April, will see the youngsters sing a newly composed song and perform it on their instruments, work on their own ideas and take part in a final performance which will be recorded.

Matt, who grew up in Darlington, will also lead a special Jazz Improvisation Workshop at Crown Street Art Gallery on Thursday 27 April, assisted by DMS tutors performing in the festival. The workshop is a must for all ages and abilities interested in developing their passion for jazz and will culminate in a performance at the end.

On Saturday 29 April, the best of Darlington’s young musicians will play in various ensembles as they converge on Joseph Pease Place from 12.30pm, to create a festival atmosphere offering free outdoor jazz. Live solo and small group performances from some of the regions finest jazz players will also take place at venues around the town centre, 12-3pm.

Darlington’s newest community choir Vocal Collective will combine with Locomotive Rhythm, a new work by Darlington-born producer, drummer and recording artist Graeme Robinson, for a special collaboration as part of a performance at the Friends Meeting House on Sunday 30 April, 2-4pm. Tickets must be booked in advance and are priced from £5.

Ian Robinson, Deputy Head of Durham Music Service, explained:

“The festival boasted sell-out audiences at many venues last year and this year promises to be even bigger and better. We’re thrilled to be able to get local youngsters, and other jazz fans, involved both in the workshops and performances – it will be a fantastic experience for them.”

Other Darlington Jazz Festival highlights include Jazz After Dark at Voodoo Café on Friday 28 April, from 8.30pm, when Matt Roberts will lead his own sextet playing the music of Lee Morgan and Miles Davis. Tickets £6, available on the door – but be early as it was a sell out last year.

More music on Saturday 29 April in The Quakerhouse, Mechanics Yard featuring various North East jazz combos 1-5pm and ‘Late Night Jam’ from 10.30pm.

The Majestic will also be hosting “A third evening of swinging big band music” with Dave O’Higgins and Durham Alumni Big Band on Saturday 29 April. The award-winning Durham County Youth Big Band will perform in support of the main event, starting at 7.15pm. Tickets are from £12, with concessions available.

On Sunday 30 April the Hash Bar will host Gypsy Jazz Brunch with Emma Frisk and James Birkett, 1030am-noonwhile Darlington Jazz Club presents the festival’s grand finale at The Hash Roof Box, in Coniscliffe Road, 6-9pm, with the Rick Laughlin Trio playing the music of Chick Corea. Tickets are available from The Hash, cost from £6.

Full details of the festival programme and how to book can be found at and for more details about Darlington Arts Festival visit DfC’s website at