Press Release for ‘Jazz Women’ Exhibition

Jazz Women Exhibition at The Jazz Centre UK, Southend-on-sea, Essex, England.

for immediate release

The Jazz Centre UK celebrates the heritage, culture and future of Jazz Women

‘Jazz women’ is the second of The Jazz Centre UK’s events sponsored by Heritage Lottery Fund and runs from Saturday 30th June to Saturday 18th August at the Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend-on-Sea. The Centre’s celebrations include concerts by Sara Dowling, Sydney Robins, Karen Sharp, Nikki Iles and Val Wiseman; a varied season of films about women in jazz. including, ‘The Jazz Baroness’ ‘Diane Schurr with Count Basie’ ‘Nancy Wilson at Carnegie Hall’ ‘The Girls in the Band’ ‘The International Sweethearts of Rhythm’ and ‘The Last of the Blonde Bombshells’; an exhibition of books, periodicals, memorabilia, letters, art,  posters and photography by or about women jazz musicians, artists, authors and journalists; a multi-media on-screen presentation celebrating both current women jazz performers, writers and educationalists in action and classic footage of their historic predecessors.

Digby Fairweather (CEO) says: “the position of women in jazz – paralleling in a sense the position of women in society generally – is a relevant cause for discussion (as well as celebration) today. Despite the central historic contributions of women musicians from Lil Hardin Armstrong on, and singers from Bessie Smith to Ella Fitzgerald and beyond, jazz music – for much of its history – has all too often been viewed as a male-dominated society. Although this is certainly much less true today, we feel that our events will help to celebrate great jazz women past and present and also encourage  new arrivals to step up to the line and make their own contributions to our ongoing culture!”

Our events

Saturday 30 June 2018/2pm/Spike’s Place at The Jazz Centre UK presents the Sara Dowling Quartet.

 Sara Dowling is a young singer/songwriter currently achieving a wide national reputation. “Her influences include Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Candi Staton and over the last three years, she has established herself as a composer of some note. But it is undoubtedly as a performer of style and ability that Sara is starting to really make an impact on the UK jazz scene” (Last FM) Sara’s quartet is completed by Gabriel Latchin (piano) Dario De Leece (bass) and Matt Home (drums).

Saturday 14th July 2018/2pm/ A Jazz Centre UK presentation/ Sydney Robins

Sydney Robins is a jazz singer currently completing her jazz studies at London’s Trinity Laban College. She introduced herself to the Trustees of The Jazz Centre UK during an informal performance with Digby Fairweather’s band at the local ‘Cricketers Jazz Bar’ in Westcliff on Sea. Fairweather says: “ when my colleagues and I heard Sydney we couldn’t wait to present her at The Centre. She has a style and knowledge of repertoire far beyond her years as well as a stage presence which endeared her to the entire audience. She’s an amazing young performer and will be bringing her own chosen musicians to join us for her concert”.

Saturday 21st July 2018/2pm/A Jazz Centre UK presentation/ Karen Sharp and Nikki Iles Duo

One of the UK’s most widely known and deeply respected musicians, tenor saxophonist Karen Sharp joined Humphrey Lyttelton’s band in 2000 for four years before establishing her own distinguished career as a soloist. With Nikki, she currently co-leads a quartet and has worked with all the best jazz musicians in the UK from  Jacqui Dankworth and Tina May to Alan Barnes as well as guesting with visiting American stars including Harry Allen, Warren Vache, Scott Hamilton a.o. She also appears regularly with the big bands of Steve Waterman, Guy Barker and the late Stan Tracey and her latest solo album ‘The Sun, The Moon and You’ appeared in March 2018 on Trio Records.

Pianist/accordionist Nikki Iles studied at Leeds College of Music (1981-4) and was a founder-member of the Creative Jazz Orchestra as well as working with London-based bands including Mick Hutton’s ‘Straight Face’ Stan Sulzmann’s quartet and singer Tina May’s quartet. She won the 1996 John Dankworth Award at the BT Jazz Festival and since then has continued to work with Karen, Tina and a variety of other groups. Nikki is also an experienced jazz educationalist and has taught at Leeds College of Music, London’s Guildhall School and in Bulgaria, Holland, France and Finland. When not performing she also runs training workshops for the Associated Board Jazz Syllabus and is currently a tutor for Issie Barrett’s National Youth Jazz Collective

Wednesday, August 8th/8.30pm/Cricketers Jazz Bar, Westcliff on Sea/ Val Wiseman with Digby Fairweather and Friends

In a special independent presentation to tie in with our ‘Jazz Women’ celebration, singer Val Wiseman joins Digby Fairweather to celebrate ‘The Jazz Divas’; a tribute to great women jazz singers including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Rose Murphy and many more. Val is best known as the star of the touring presentation ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ (a tribute to Billie Holiday which has toured the UK and Europe since l987) ) but also fronts her own celebration of the Bronte Legacy called ‘Keeping the Flame Alive’ and is a regular winner of the British Jazz Award for ‘top jazz singer’.

For bookings: call 01702  345053

Media Section


Artists: Click here

Exhibition logo: Click here

The Jazz Centre UK imagery: Click here

Associated logos: Click here

Notes for Media

All social media: @thejazzcentreuk

Please make use of the link: ‎
for a further description of the event.

Address: The Jazz Centre UK, Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Ave, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6EX, United Kingdom

Campaign Hashtags: #JazzWomen #WomeninJazz #TJCUKJW

Opened in February 2016 and registered as a Charity (CEO:1167421) ‘The Jazz Centre (UK)’ celebrates the music’s heritage, art and memorabilia and actively supports and promotes contemporary performance and education.

Its current site in the Beecroft Art Gallery in Southend’s Victoria Avenue (measuring c. 4000 square feet) includes a performance space, a research centre, media room, heritage room and a cinema/lecture theatre. Its facilities include full internet accessibility in dedicated research areas; private screens for film study; a large book and periodical research collection; a retail section for jazz vinyl, CDs and books; an expanding section for the ‘little labels’ of British jazz (including the ‘Jazz Academy’ label of pianist-composer Michael Garrick and ‘Calligraph’ label of Humphrey Lyttelton) and full facilities for the study (and enjoyment!) of recorded jazz in the department.

Our heritage acquisitions already include the instruments of jazz legends (Louis Armstrong’s ‘Special’ trumpet and Sir John Dankworth’s first piano) and the complete Archives of British jazz’s most eloquent and well-remembered spokesman Humphrey Lyttelton – his desk, his instruments and eight decades of his scrapbooks and private correspondence (donated by son Stephen Lyttelton) and his lifetime of achievements and music awards (donated by Eton College).

Our Patrons include:  Dame Cleo Laine, Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Van Morrison, Dan Morgenstern, Paul Jones, Jools Holland, Simon Spillett, Alan Barnes and Susan Da Costa.

What our patrons say:

Sir Michael Parkinson
“It’s been a long time coming, but such good news – and well deserved”

Sir Van Morrison 
“I fully support the idea of a national jazz centre and wish you every success with the project”

Jools Holland 
“If we can make it work it will be a great thing for jazz – not only for Britain but all over the world”

Our CEO is Digby Fairweather.

Digby Fairweather has been a professional jazz musician since l977 and recorded over seventy albums as leader and sideman. After work with many celebrated bands (including ‘The Best of British Jazz’ (l999-2006)  and ‘The Great British Jazz Band’ (l994-2005) he has led his ‘Half-Dozen’ since l995 touring and recording with blues-legend George Melly (2003-7) Paul Jones (Manfreds/Blues Band)(2007-present) and as a solo act. Digby was Founder of the National Jazz Archive UK which opened in l988 and also broadcast widely on jazz for the BBC and Jazz FM (l986-1998) before returning to fulltime playing in l998. His awards have included: British Jazz Awards (for trumpet l992/Services to Jazz,l993);  Benno Haussmann Award (Services to Jazz, l993) and the Freedoms of London (l992) and his home town Southend-on-Sea(2000). Digby has been called ‘just about the best Ambassador British jazz could have’ (Michael Dynan,’The Stage’) and has authored (or co-authored) several books of his own. In 2013 he received the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and his group ‘Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen’ has won the British Jazz Award – the ‘Jazz Oscar’ for ‘top small group’ for the last eleven years;2005/6/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16.In 2016 Digby founded the new Charity ‘The Jazz Centre (UK)’ in Southend and combines playing (and leading his band) with his duties as Director/TJC(UK)

Media Contact – Matthew Fisher:
T: 07389 185893


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