Hi everyone! Many apologies that the website has been a long time in the updating! But doesn’t it look great? – thanks to my good friend KEITH MILLINGTON who has spent a long time bringing me out of the 20th Century and into the 21st! Thanks Keith – and if you’d like a site like mine you can call him on 01380 699147!
All the new dates for 2016 are up there now (and how about that New Year’s Eve party at our jazz club, the Cricketers, in Southend??) – but there’s more news to tell you about if you have a moment to read on….
For many years now people have been talking about a Jazz Centre for the UK – ever since the failure of such a scheme back in 1986 when the ‘Jazz Centre Society’ was planned in Floral Street Covent Garden but never materialized. Well for many years (ever since 1988) we’ve had the National Jazz Archive in Loughton – which I was honoured to set up (all those years ago!) and which continues to do a great job both in person and on-line. The NJA is a marvellous storehouse of information, preserving everything you can read about or look at on the subject of jazz; books, journals, letters, postcards and photographs. And very many of us know their Archivist -and my good friend – David Nathan who has helped out hundreds of people from every corner f the jazz community with enquiries for many years.
However we now have a new and exciting project on the way in Southend on Sea too! This is ‘The Jazz Centre (UK)’ which opened in February and has just been registered as Charity number 1167421. Registering as a Charity will allow us to press on with some exciting plans – including a major new project (based in Southend’s Beecroft Art Gallery). We have plans for a full jazz museum, an art gallery, a two-floor performance centre, a full Research collection , a cinema and lecture theatre and more facilities. We are already open once a week in the Beecroft Art Gallery (Victoria Avenue, Southend SS2 6EX) on Saturdays from 10-4.45pm – but that’s just a start. And our recent acquisitions include the complete collections of the late great Humphrey Lyttelton (his trumpet, his tenor horn his beautiful roll-top desk where he wrote his scripts for ‘The Best of Jazz and much more) as well as Sir John Dankworth’s very first piano and the trumpets of Louis Armstrong and Nat Gonella! So our museum is well under way! We also enjoy music and jazz films in the department while we’re open – and have a wicked coffee machine too!
We’ve had promising encouragement from the Arts Council and full support from Southend Borough Council for our new project. So our dream is for a full Jazz Centre for the UK to be set up over the next few years and based in Southend.
Why Southend? Well; London rates are very high as we know (jazz is still a bit of a ‘peasant-economy’) and Southend-on-Sea is less than an hour from our Capital with two railway lines and a flourishing airport! It also has a jazz history stretching back for over six decades! The Turner Gallery in Margate might be seen as a similar project and we hope for the same kind of success in the future as Margate (which, according to the Sunday Times’ is now the fourth most hip place to live in the UK!’ in 2016.
Anyhow it’s (very) early days of course. But my team of Trustees and I have the highest hopes. We hope you will follow and support our new project. So – as Lionel Hampton once said – ‘stand by for further announcements – and more good news!’.
Love to you all.