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Female vocalist makes history at Isle of Man Jazz Festival 3 September 2007

Final plans have been announced for this month’s Isle of Man International Jazz Festival and one of the late additions to the programme means that this year’s event – the 15th to be held – will break new ground.

Although in the past Band members have vocalised, as part of the group’s overall repertoire, the Festival has never featured a specialist singer. This is now to change with the news that Marcia Pendlebury – one of the UK’s best known singers both in regard to traditional and swing style jazz – is travelling to the Island to take part.

Alan Grubb, Chairman of the Festival organisers, the Manx Jazz Club, explained:

‘Art Themen is tenor saxophonist in Marcia’s quintet and when she heard he was one of the artistes she asked if she could come too. Of course we were delighted to agree. They will be appearing as individuals, as opposed to members of the quintet, and although both have been guests of the Manx Jazz Club in the past this will be the first time they have appeared at the Festival. Art is a character in his own right. His day job is as an orthopaedic surgeon at Reading Hospital and one of his duties involves treating some of the injuries of Reading’s premiership footballers.’

Marcia, who has been singing jazz since the age of 17, has toured Europe – mainly in partnership with her late husband Keith who was a well known solo or trio pianist. Their professional itinerary included nine tours of Austria and three to Sweden. She now runs a Riding Centre in North Wales but still finds time to record CDs.

The Festival continues from September 21st-23rd at the Hilton Hotel in Douglas where two areas have been set aside, named the Harlem and Cotton Clubs, to reflect the separate jazz techniques. Patrons can move between the two rooms to listen to the different styles on offer.

Support has been forthcoming from the Department of Tourism and Leisure with Tourism Minister Adrian Earnshaw performing the opening ceremony at Tower House in Castle Street, Douglas on the Friday afternoon.

One of the social highlights of the weekend will be a New Orleans style Parade through Douglas Town Centre on the Saturday morning, starting from the Regent Street Post Office at 10.45. Held in conjunction with the parade will be a parasol competition with three prizes each for adults and children. This is to be judged by the Deputy Mayor of Douglas, Councillor Inkerman Faragher, and Mrs Faragher.

Two special events take place on the Sunday, in addition to the entertainment in the Harlem and Cotton rooms. A jazz service takes place in St.George’s Church, Douglas, featuring Richard Leach’s 7 Stars of Jazz from the Midlands and with this year’s Cleveland Medallist Mandy Griffin as guest artiste.

Later in the day the scene switches back to the Hilton when the young Norwegian group Dixi conducts a workshop for young musicians. Compere for the afternoon will be Walter Love of BBC Radio Ulster. The Manx Jazz Club has written to the Heads of Music at Island secondary schools, as well as local music groups, inviting any budding instrumentalists to join the workshop.

Over 200 visiting jazz enthusiasts have taken advantage of the special packages available while many others are making their own travel arrangements. Four people are even travelling in their own boat from Strangford Lough.

Alan Grubb said:

‘All the plans are now in place and we look forward to another wonderful weekend of jazz. It is a rare opportunity to see so many top class jazz musicians at one venue and I would urge the Manx public to come and support the artistes.’

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