It is one of the most up and coming Jazz festivals in the UK.

And to celebrate its 25th anniversary on October 7 to 9, Marsden Jazz Festival has a programme to rival that of its contemporaries in London, Manchester and Glasgow.

But despite attracting artists from around the globe and thousands of visitors each year, it was only by chance that the festival came together at all.

The festival’s producer, Barney Stevenson, has shed light on its origins and the impact it has had.

“The idea for the festival came from Mike Lucas, the founder of Mikron Theatre Company”, said Barney, 42.

“It was 1992 and the village’s Mechanics Hall in Peel Street had just been re-opened after a bid to save it.

“He and the community wanted to do something that would bring people into the building and he decided on a festival.

“He just looked at the other events in the area, such as Holmfirth Festival of Folk, and thought there was a gap in the market for jazz.

The poster for the 2016 Marsden Jazz Festival, which will celebrate its 25th year this October

“He didn’t really have much knowledge of the genre so had to reach out to groups like Huddersfield Jazz Society.

“It was just by chance that he decided on a jazz festival.”

The first event was held from October 16 to 18 at the hall and a handful of other venues.

“He managed to get Digby Fairweather, Ronnie Scott, Monty Sunshine and other acts”, said Barney.

“It was a success so he and his team decided to give it another go and it’s been growing every year since then.

“In 2014 we had 8,000 gig attendees but in 2015 this increased to 10,000.”

Barney got involved in 2006, one year after moving to Marsden.

“A meeting about the festival was the first one I attended in the village.

“I’ve always liked jazz music and gained experience of promoting gigs due to being the conductor for the University of Manchester Jazz Orchestra.

“Musicians have always applied to come and they used to send in CDs, so our team would get together to listen to them.

Barney Stevenson, producer of Marsden Jazz Festival, which will celebrate its 25th year this October

“Now most people send samples to us via the internet.

“We start asking acts well over one year in advance of the festival we’d like them to play at.

“Securing big names for the Mechanics is great because as it only seats 200 people it’s a good, intimate venue.

“But we have to make sure we can afford to pay the band due to the limited audience numbers.”

Barney tracked some of the big names of the festivals past.

“We’ve had some absolutely fantastic jazz acts, such as Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Georgie Fame.

“We set up a New Stream section to celebrate young talent, and they go on to win awards so we spot some really good acts, like Aaron Wood who won the Jazz North Introduces award last year.”

WATCH Ukulele flash mob at Marsden Jazz Festival below

Video thumbnail, Ukulele flash mob for MJF 2015
Video Loading

Dozens of class acts have been named for this year’s festival, where over 100 acts will play in 25 venues.

“We’re welcoming back Digby Fairweather, who will play with Paul Jones in their only concert of the year.

“Jazz Jamaica are a real coup as are the Impossible Gentlemen and Nérija.

“We have plenty more acts to announce too.

He talked about the effect of the festival on the village.

“It’s had a big impact.

The poster for the first ever Marsden Jazz Festival in 1992, which will celebrate its 25th year this October

“It has introduced lots of people to Marsden, who’ve come back again after the festival.

“We have introduced more international acts and events for children and our audience is becoming more diverse as a result.

“We’ve done some research and found out that up to £400,000 goes into the local economy on the weekend – businesses have told us they do better than at Christmas.

“It also introduces everyone to music they wouldn’t otherwise listen to.

“One third of our audience last year said that they didn’t go to any other jazz event in the whole year.

“We try to challenge people through the programme – you don’t know what you like until you hear it.”

Barney set out his hopes for the festival’s next 25 years.

“This year will be the last time that we receive any funding from Kirklees Council.

“We’ve been very lucky this year to gain sponsorship from Yorkshire Water but we need to find more business sponsors in the future.

“Applying for funds on top of putting the festival together has turned it into a full time job for me.

“I hope to keep strengthening our programme, especially our international section.

“We just want to keep inspiring our audiences and supporting artists, especially younger ones.”

Video thumbnail, Music at the Marsden Jazz Festival 2015
Video Loading