Banging the gong for Marlborough has always been a high priority for Nick Fogg, and in 1985, the first time he became mayor, he promised to create a festival that reflected the culture of the town.

Since then the Marlborough International Jazz Festival has attracted big names from all over the world to the sleepy little town, that was granted its Royal Charter in 1204.

The Jools Holland Big Band was the first famous name to grace the festival, upping its status and opening the flood gates to stars such as Clare Teal who makes a welcome return this year, Darius Brubeck, Elkie Brooks, Jamie Cullum, Julie Felix, Geno Washington and former Bond girl Rebecca Grant.

Pubs, hotels, halls, marquee, Town Hall and the streets of the market town have been ablaze with colour and sound as blues, trad jazz, modern jazz, samba, Latin, and jazz funk streams from every door during the festival.

This year the festival takes on a gala feel with the Town Hall taking centre stage, welcoming artists from as far afield as USA, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France and many more.

Festival Trustee Nick Fogg said: “This jazz gala is a one-off, but one of the highest possible calibre. We’re dedicating this to all those who’ve loyally supported us over the years. We’ll be looking into the many creative suggestions we have received for our future.''

Sax player Greg Abate will be bringing his quartet to the 2017 festival. Greg also plays the flute and composes his own tunes. The Rhode Island musician has played with such greats as Ray Charles and the Artie Shaw Orchestra.

Another artist flying in from across the pond is Russell Hitman Alexander with The Hitman Blues Band. Russell got his nickname because he can sing the words to more than 600 hit songs, from blues to reggae. A festival favourite is percussionist Robin Jones who plays Latin jazz. Robin has worked with such diverse acts as Elton John and Slade. His drummer Marc Cecil numbers The Drifters, The Foundations, Art Theman and The Patters amongst his bands.

Apart from the international side of the festival, there is a strong local contingent with popular R and B outfit Built For Comfort from Swindon adding their mite to proceedings, alongside Gabby Young, a Glastonbury veteran who has played the Barbican, The Royal Albert Hall and The Southbank Centre.

Gabby said: "I am very excited to be coming back to my home town, to be seeing old friends and I can't wait for everyone to hear the new music I have been working on."

Swindon's own Richie Bryant who played drums with The Aker Bilk and Terry Lightfoot Band is on the bill and clarinet maestro Pete Allen who is an honorary citizen of New Orleans will also be part of the gala.

Another known name is Roy Adams, drummer with Roy Wood from The Move and ELO. Roy Adams has also worked with Swindon pop star Gilbert O'Sullivan and Tina Turner.

With all the variations on a theme of jazz sloshing around, St Mary's Church is throwing open its doors for the public to learn the art of Gospel singing, under the musical director of Jo Sercombe.

The Sunday Jazz Service is also at St Mary's, featuring Slaughterhouse Seven, Debbie Bond and The Marlborough Community Choir.

Tickets may be booked online through, or, over the counter, from Sound Knowledge, Hughenden Yard, or the White Horse Bookshop, 136, High Street. - Flicky Harrison