Dennis Rollins

6. Dennis Rollins

MJF shows itself to have a lot of respect for British artists

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MJF shows itself to have a lot of respect for British artists

Since his first gig at Marsden Jazz Festival in the early 2000s, Doncaster star trombonist Dennis Rollins has seen the festival grow, but some things haven’t changed at all.

“What I felt immediately was the sense of community: it was apparent that it was more than just a little festival in a little village. It’s a passionate collective of people. I was singing the praises of this little festival straight away; it has more love than so many of the festivals I play. It is a real honour to perform at a festival where the audience have passion and have your interests at heart. MJF shows itself to have a lot of respect for British artists, and what it does particularly well is embrace a wide range of artists, from the mainstream to the absolutely avant garde.

Musicians highly respect it because of the way they are treated by the team. If I dare compare, some festivals want you in and out. Marsden is the total opposite. There are some great festivals in the North but there is something about Marsden Jazz Festival. It’s about more than just the music, it’s about the way that people are with each other. It sings out to visiting artists and they feel it. It’s taken seriously by the rest of the jazz world too.

From a performance perspective, the festival has gotten slicker over time. Not slick to the point of losing its roots, but very well organised, with a calm and efficient team in charge. I don’t feel that it has changed drastically over time, and when I pull into Marsden, it feels like home. It’s an easy place to be.

I have noticed that Marsden runs more educational workshops than other festivals and these are well attended. There is a big young musician and Big Band programme, but small band combos are also nurtured. It’s great to watch young musicians grow over the years and start to perform in their own right – and they can get up close to real musicians, learn from them. That can sometimes be an alarming thing… they remember working with you in the workshops years after!

I think this is a festival that is going to grow. I just hope the funding continues to keep pace with the promise. I have a lot of admiration for Barney as Festival Producer. He is never looking just a year ahead, he is always thinking much further along the road.

I am humbled to have been chosen to feature in one of the celebratory portraits. I can see how the energy put in by the team is much bigger than just the music. I can see that the vision goes so far beyond just playing music and performing to an audience. It is so inclusive. It is using music to send a message about joy and community.”

When pull into Marsden it feels like home. It's an easy place to be

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