What We Do

OUR AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

CELEBRATING THE JOYS OF JAZZ IN ALL ITS FORMS FOR EVERYONE!
PRESENTING REGULAR LIVE JAZZ PERFORMANCES
ENGAGING WITH YOUNG JAZZ PERFORMERS VIA WORKSHOPS, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES, TALKS AND MUCH MORE
BRINGING YOU THE BEST OF JAZZ ART WITH EXHIBITIONS IN OUR GALLERY
BRINGING YOU JAZZ ON FILM IN OUR ON-SITE CINEMA
PRESERVING THE HUNDRED-YEAR HERITAGE OF JAZZ IN OUR MUSEUM
PROVIDING A RESEARCH CENTRE AND ENQUIRY SERVICE FOR JAZZ IN COLLABORATION WITH THE NATIONAL JAZZ ARCHIVE, LOUGHTON
PROVIDING A SOCIAL CENTRE FOR CELEBRATION OF THE MUSIC
SERVING YOU BY ESTABLISHING THE FIRST-EVER NATIONAL JAZZ CENTRE FOR THE UK

A DREAM DEFERRED.......UNTIL NOW

Image of Karen Sharp
Tenor Saxophonist Karen Sharp

Jazz music has existed in some form in the UK since around 1875 but up until now - quite unaccountably - there has never been a national centre to act as the music's flagship in Britain. Only one unsuccessful attempt was made back in 1982 when plans to establish a 'Jazz Centre Society' in London's Covent Garden collapsed four years later. However thirty years have gone by and in 2015 a proposal to Darren Henley (the CEO of Arts Council England) to bring back the idea was greeted by Darren as 'a fantastic project'.

The Trustees of 'The Jazz Centre (UK)' share his enthusiasm. After fifty years of popular culture progressively dominated by rock music jazz music has consistently continued to thrive. In the wise words of Britain's most literate and long-time ambassador, trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton: "jazz is like a rockpool. When the tides of musical fashion come in the rock-pool is hidden for a while. But when the tides go out, there's the rock-pool again, brimming with life and activity"

Image of Humphrey Lyttelton
Humphrey Lyttelton

We believe that Humph's words are truer than ever today. There is a renewed interest in jazz among our young generations - London's Royal Academy of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Guildhall School of Music (amongst other colleges throughout the UK including Leeds) all run fulltime jazz degree courses - and we should never overlook the unflagging loyalty to the music amongst older listeners too. After fifty years jazz is appearing on radio and TV again; we have a fulltime DAB radio station, 'Jazz FM' firmly committed to the music, and the National Jazz Archive - our national research centre for books, journals, posters and photographs (in short anything you can read or look at on the subject of jazz) - continues to flourish in Loughton Central Library.

Amid all this activity we believe that the time has come to establish a visible cultural centre for the music, and that Southend-on-Sea - with its two 55-minute rail links to and from London and a newly-flourishing airport - is a viable location for the project.

Opened in February 2016 and now registered as a Charity (CEO:1167421) 'The Jazz Centre (UK)' will both celebrate the music's heritage, art and memorabilia and actively support and promote contemporary performance and education. Its current site in the Beecroft Art Gallery in Southend's Victoria Avenue and measuring c. 4000 square feet - includes a performance space, a research centre 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 plans also include a full heritage museum for the music, an art gallery and a jazz café. 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.

"People have died for jazz" said the legendary trumpeter John Birks 'Dizzy' Gillespie" - and you still have a problem calling it 'serious music?'" The great British tenorist Alan Skidmore echoed the thought on a recent visit to 'The Jazz Centre (UK)'. "I've given six decades of my life to this art-form" he said " - and I appreciate its full celebration in words and deeds". Our Trustees believe him. And while we have a long way to go we believe that 'The Jazz Centre (UK)' can soon remove the brackets from its last two letters.

Image of Digby Fairweather
Digby Fairweather

Digby Fairweather
Founder/Lifelong Patron/National Jazz Archive 1988
Founder: 'The Jazz Centre (UK)', 2016