VIDEO: Viva Las Vegas as jazz festival returns

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Finding quality jazz in Wigan certainly won’t be a game of chance this week as a major borough festival opens with a Vegas-themed concert.

The 33rd Wigan International Jazz Festival is back and kicking off with a celebration of one of the most famous big band albums of all time recorded in the iconic Nevada gambling playground.

Jazz maestro Ian Darrington

Jazz maestro Ian Darrington

Sinatra at the Sands, to be performed on Thursday night at Robin Park Indoor Sports Centre, is a tribute to the legendary concert Frank Sinatra and the Cout Basie Orchestra captured for posterity at the Sands Casino in July 1955.

The occasion will be recreated in the borough by top American singer Curtis Stigers, renowned for the song You’re All That Matters to Me, and Ronnie Scott’s Big Band.

Co-founder of the event and festival director Ian Darrington MBE said: “This is a huge night for the festival and for the borough.

“To have such iconic musicians performing some of the best-known and best loved music ever written, makes the absolutely perfect opener for the festival. It’s going to be a packer.”

The authentic Las Vegas atmosphere is being helped by festival supporter Pierfuncasinos.

Sinatra at the Sands is just the opening concert in a long weekend of the very best in all things involving swing, syncopation and blue notes.

Other highlights include the Champian Fulton Quartet with tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton on Friday, the James Morrison Quartet appearing as special guests of Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra on Saturday and Jeremy Sassoon’s Ray Charles Project performing on Sunday.

Other acts coming to Wigan include the New York Brass Band, the California Jazz Conservatoire Septet, SHAPE International Band and Georgina Jackson and the Karen Sharp Quintet.

This year also marks something of a new chapter for the festival as it is the first event delivered by new company The Music Continuum, which has taken on the challenge of generating a healthy, long-term future for the annual celebration of jazz and broaden the audiences for the music.

Co-director Peter Fletcher said: “Along with our sponsors we’re looking forward to welcoming jazz fans from around the UK and from various parts of the world.

“We’ve designed a programme of concerts with something to suit all tastes and importantly it’s very much a family friendly festival with children under 14 admitted free of charge.

“We hope that residents of the borough will come along and enjoy the event and support us in our work to keep the Wigan Jazz Festival at the forefront of the UK scene.”

Martland Mill Brewery has also created two special ales exclusively for the festival.

The 33rd Wigan International Jazz Festival runs from Thursday until Sunday at Robin Park Indoor Sports Centre. Find out more at www.wiganjazzfest.co.uk