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The love that gave me sax appeal and all that jazz; Dafydd Dafis tells Jill Tunstall what sparked his lifelong passion for music.

ACTOR and musician Dafydd Dafis was just 16 when he lost his heart to a love that has endured for nearly 30 years. The Rhosllannerchrugog teenager turned on the radio and heard Miles Davies playing the jazz classic So What? He was smitten.

This was 1974, the height of Glam Rock, but his ears was turned away from spangly Bowie and Bolan to a different world of sound.

"I went out immediately and spent my pocket money on any jazz I could find. Miles Davies was the catalyst for a huge record collection I've amassed," he recalls.

In doing so he became part of the world of '"vampires that sleep all day, live existential lives, wear black, smoke, drink a lot and have beards!" Such is the reputation of the jazz fan. But some time later, after he'd been working as an actor for ten years, Dafydd went one step further. He bought a saxophone from a colleague he'd been working with in panto.

"I taught myself to play and practised for a year on my own in my room. Then I managed to acquire a sort of sound and I've gone on to play with dozens of Welsh bands," he says.

His is the saxophone music you will hear over the credits for Tipyn O Stad. He used to act in the series too. And he has his third solo album, EOl y Fflam (The Trail of the Flame) set for release on the Sain label in the autumn.

So who better to choose to front highlights of the Brecon Jazz Festival?

And while S4C were lucky to have him, he agrees that he was lucky too, nearly hugging himself when he was given the chance to interview the jazz legend Courtney Pine.

"I'd booked my hotel a year ago," he explains. "I go every year to the festival so when I was asked to present the programme I was delighted. And to get paid for it too!"

Pine, he says, was the 'single most charismatic person' he had ever met.

"He celebrates 20 years since his first album and was the main person in the vanguard in the 1980s when fire was put back in the belly of jazz," says Dafydd. "He helped make it sexy again after a long time in the doldrums."

Talking of anniversaries, the Brecon Jazz Festival has just two years to go before it celebrates a quarter of a century.

"It's a terrific festival," says the 47-year old presenter who now lives in Denbigh. "This year especially there was a very strong Welsh element and I believe, on the strength of that, that the future of jazz in Wales is in very safe hands."

Among his personal highlights are performances by Nia Lynn, whose father Gregg was a former band colleague of Dafydd's, Paula Gardiner who was at college with Dafydd, and Gwilym Simcock who is emerging as a leading jazz pianist.

Watching band leader Stan Tracey and inspirational saxophonist Benny Golson play were also unforgettable moments which will feature in the highlights programme.

Regardless of his love affair with it, Dafydd's interest in music isn't confined to jazz- although he likes all the various versions of it from Dixie to Trad to Electronic jazz.

He's also a fan of classical pop, rock, and funk and credits his father, John Tudor Davies MBE, former conductor of Rhos Male Voice Choir, with opening his musical synapses, even if they don't share the same taste.

"There's only good and bad music. Bad music is the faceless, corporate manufactured music performed by boy bands. As far as I'm concerned the best ever boy band was Duke

Jazz festival special

A special New Orleans jazz and gospel edition of Sunday worship series Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol will be aired on Sunday, S4C, 8pm to mark the first anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.



Actor turned musician Dafydd Dafis has all the right credentials to front the Brecon Jazz festival
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2006
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