Parkinson cuts the ribbon to Britain’s First Centre for Jazz


Sir Michael Parkinson will cut the ribbon to The Jazz Centre UK’s biggest development yet. In a Grand Relaunch on Saturday October 20th, The Jazz Centre UK will triple the size of its premises to open: an Art Gallery, ‘Jazz Café’, jazz record shop, a state of the art Cinema and Multi-Media Centre for jazz on film and record (including a 6000-strong vinyl collection for public use), a unique walk-through celebration of ‘Jazz from Then to Now’, a library and research service with internet facilities, and fully-equipped 140-seat concert hall.

Sir Michael will cut the ribbon at 1pm amongst a celebration of Jazz featuring performances by the Centre’s ‘Jazz Arrivals’ (including guitarist Harrison Dolphin’s Trio), special surprise guests and an afternoon concert by the Humphrey Lyttelton Band to celebrate the third of the Centre’s HLF-sponsored concerts: ‘Humph; ten years on’.

CEO Digby Fairweather says: ‘From January 2019 The Jazz Centre UK will be open five days a week at the Beecroft Art Gallery Southend-on-Sea and we will be hosting exhibitions, weekly film presentations, live concerts by the best of British and American performers, lectures, discussion groups, jazz workshops and much more. We are all thrilled that the wrongs of 1986 in Covent Garden have at last been put right and that now, after more than thirty years, the UK has a full cultural Centre for jazz to preserve, promote and celebrate our beloved art form’.

The Jazz Centre UK, Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6EX

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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.

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)

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