Jazz legend Digby Fairweather curates a day of sumptuous #VG17 jazz alongside a hot slice of The Jazz Centre UK archive!

We are delighted that The Jazz Centre (UK) will be opening its very own temporary Jazz Cafe at Village Green this year.

Hosted inside Chalkwell Hall – the beautiful Georgian house at the heart of the Festival site – the Cafe will be bringing you live jazz all day as well as a fantastic exhibition of jazz memorabilia from the Centre’s collections. The exhibition will open at 11am on 8 July and be on view to visitors for the following eight weeks.

Our live jazz sessions will begin at mid-day on the 8th and will feature a whole range of performances from some of the UK’s biggest jazz stars!

The exhibition and music programme has been curated by Digby Fairweather.  Digby’s professional jazz career began in l977, and since then has he has recorded prolifically, written several books about jazz, worked in jazz education  and broadcast on the subject (for BBC Radio 2/3, Jazz FM and a variety of other stations). After working with all of Britain’s leading Swing players in a variety of ensembles he formed his current band ‘Digby’s Half Dozen’ in l995.  With the ‘Half Dozen’ (from 2003-7) he was musical director for blues legend George Melly (recording with Melly, Van Morrison, Jacqui Dankworth, The Swingle Singers and others) and since then has toured with rock icon Paul Jones (Manfred Mann as well as soul-legend P.P. Arnold. The ‘Half-Dozen’  celebrated its 20th Anniversary on the road in 2015 with a solo tour of the UK and its eleventh consecutive win in the ‘Top Small Group’ category of the ‘British Jazz Awards’ (2016).


Digby’s  awards include BBC Jazz Society ‘Musician of the Year’ (l979);Freedom of  London(l992); British Jazz Awards (Trumpet/l992 and Services to Jazz/1993); Benno Haussman Award (Services to Jazz, l993); Freedom of Southend-on-Sea (2000);‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ (Worshipful Company of Musicians, London, 2013); ‘British Jazz Award/’Services to Jazz’ 2016.


A recent book (The Evolution of Jazz in Britain ,Catherine Parsonage, Ashgate Publications) has confirmed that jazz in some form has been heard in Britain since 1880! But there has never been a flagship centre for the art form in the UK. So Digby Fairweather and his team of six Trustees – have combined to put this matter to rights, and the result has been the creation of ‘The Jazz Centre UK’ The organization has signed a ten-year agreement with Southend Borough Council to develop the project in the new Beecroft Art Gallery in Victoria Avenue.

The TJC (UK) opened its first department on February 6th 2016 and its collections (so far) include a research facility of books and journals; a small museum (including the collections of the late Humphrey Lyttelton the first piano of Sir John Dankworth and the trumpets of Louis Armstrong and Nat Gonella) and an extensive library of jazz on film. The department enjoys full internet facilities for extended research (with private study carrels for its users) and also celebrates the music with jazz on record, film presentations in our 110-seat cinema (every Saturday at 2pm) , and provides an informal jazz cafe for visitors.

Longer-term however our ambitions extend far more widely. Our department will extend into the lower Atrium of the Beecroft in September 2017 and plans have been proposed for a full Heritage museum, an art gallery, a sound-archive for the music (including recorded jazz on 78, vinyl and CD) and a 200-seat dedicated performance space to be modelled on London’s legendary ‘100 Club’, Britain’s oldest jazz venue which opened as the Feldman Club in l942. Artefacts have been received from the club (via its former director, Roger Horton) and architect’s plans for developing and extending the centre have been drawn up by Robin Crane. The TJC (UK) has now received its first HLF Grant and this will be used for community-based projects (including ‘Have-a-Go workshops, live presentations and jazz exhibitions from September 2016-October 2017). More plans for the future include educational outreach programmes, oral history projects, digitization of our collections – and of course public performance too: anything, in short, which relates to our stated purpose to preserve, promote and celebrate the culture of jazz in all its forms in Britain and beyond. Our distinguished Patrons include Dame Cleo Laine, Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Van Morrison, Jools Holland, Dan Morgenstern (former Director of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies in New Jersey), Paul Jones, Simon Spillett and Alan Barnes.

The Jazz Centre UK is open every Saturday from 10am-4.30.


Beecroft Art Gallery

Victoria Avenue,


Essex SS09 6EX



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