News from the National Jazz Archive
Welcome to our September 2019 Newsletter


Adrian Cox presents ‘Profoundly Blue’ – 28 September

'Profoundly Blue' is a concert celebrating the music of Louisiana-born clarinettist Edmond Hall. The show stars clarinettist star Adrian Cox with his fine band – Joe Webb (piano), Simon Read (bass) and Gethin Jones (drums). The title 'Profoundly Blue' comes from the 1941 hit album which featured Edmond Hall with Meade Lux Lewis and Charlie Christian. Adrian leads the quartet with this as a starting point and continues through a programme of tunes from the albums Rumpus on Rampart and Petit Fleur. Adrian’s love for the clarinet is eminent in his soulful playing, as you will hear in this fantastic tribute to one of the true legends of jazz. Time Out has described him as ‘London’s most charismatic reeds man’.

Here, Adrian explains the background to the concert, celebrating Edmond Hall, his favourite clarinet player.

Adrian’s CD ‘Profoundly Blue’ has been nominated as the Album of the Year by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group – the winner will be announced on 3 December.

Here’s a video clip of Adrian's quartet playing part of the ‘Profoundly Blue’ programme to a sold-out gig at Dizzy’s Club in New York a few weeks ago:

The concert will be in Loughton, Essex, starting at 2.30. Tickets cost £15.

Big band jazz returns to Loughton! – 2 November

After their sell-out fundraising concert for the Archive in March 2018, we are delighted to welcome back the John Ongom Big Band, bringing big band jazz to Loughton, featuring vocalist Catherine Lima, who gave such a wonderful concert for us in July. Tickets will be on sale at the Adrian Cox concert on 28 September, and online soon. More information will follow next month.

Catherine Lima – 'a wonderful afternoon'

Catherine Lima and her fine quartet gave a wonderful concert presenting the life and music of Peggy Lee in support of the Archive on 27 July in Loughton. 

She sang 20 of Peggy’s songs drawn from the whole of her recording career, including both her best-known hits (‘Fever’, ‘I’m a Woman’, ‘Till There Was You’) and less well known songs. Catherine told Peggy’s life story, from modest beginnings, through her early years as the singer with Benny Goodman’s band, to her acting career in the 1950s, and her many years as a high profile star.

Catherine’s quartet provided excellent and subtle support, with Paul Higgs on piano and trumpet, Alex Field on guitar, Les Cirkel on drums and José Canha on bass.

Many thanks to them all for an afternoon of music that was much appreciated by the sold-out 200+ audience at the Methodist Church. As well as the music, CD sales were popular, along with the refreshment sales, a small display of material from the Archive about Peggy Lee, and ticket sales for the Adrian Cox concert.

Thanks to Brian O’Connor for these photographs from the concert. Catherine's CD 'Stories and Lies' is available here.


Documenting Jazz 2020

The National Jazz Archive is delighted to be supporting the second Documenting Jazz conference, being held at Birmingham City University from 16 to 18 January 2020. The conference will bring together colleagues from academic, archive, library, and museum sectors to explore and discuss documenting jazz, offering experiences from across the world. The conference chair is NJA trustee Dr Pedro Cravinho, and the keynote speakers are Professor Kristin McGee and NJA trustee Professor Catherine Tackley.

The programme will focus on documenting jazz as visual culture, and its representations: photography, press, cinema, television, and web. It will also address ways of documenting that challenge the traditional narratives of jazz as a male-dominated domain. 

The first Documenting Jazz conference was held in Dublin in January, and you can read a wonderfully rich account of it by Ian Patterson on All About Jazz.

Gems from the Archive – George Shearing

The great jazz pianist George Shearing was born in London just over 100 years ago, on 13 August 1919. 

He achieved success in the States after moving there in 1947, where his harmonically complex style, mixing swing, bop and modern classical influences, became popular. In 1949, Leonard Feather talked George into replacing the clarinet in his group by vibes and adding a guitar to produce the famous 'Shearing Sound’. Strings of night-club and concert bookings followed.

Les Tomkins interviewed George in Crescendo in 1966 and 1976 and these interviews are available on the Jazz Stories section of the Archive website. A third interview, made by Alan Stevens in 1979, is also available.

Interview One (1966)
Interview Two (1976)
Interview Three (1979)

Searching the NJA website brings up nearly 500 entries about George, including his autobiography ‘Lullaby of Birdland’, a copy of which is of course held. And there are many more articles and reviews in journals that have not yet been digitised.

George was born blind in London in August 1919. At 16 he was playing in a pub and studying music in his spare time. A nine-month tour with an all-blind orchestra brought arranging opportunities and a meeting with Leonard Feather who negotiated a broadcast on the BBC radio programme 'Bandwagon'.

By the end of 1939, George had his own BBC programme and began to break into the night-club world. In 1941, he started a year and a half of touring with the Ambrose Octet. By the end of the war, he was accepted by jazz musicians and was earning a fair living.

At the end of 1946, he sailed for America, partly for a holiday, but also partly for musical reconnaissance. He returned after two months but went back the following year and struggled to convince bookers that he had something to offer. It seemed hopeless. He returned to England again, but his wife Trixie stayed behind and carried on the campaign for him. He finally landed an engagement at the Clique Club in New York. The rest, as they say, is history.

A blue plaque to commemorate George was unveiled at Northcote Lodge School, Battersea, London, in 2017, formerly Linden Lodge School for the Blind, which he attended.

For more fascinating YouTube clips of George Shearing, read David McGee’s tribute in 'The Bluegrass Special' published soon after George’s death in 2011.

The photo of George Shearing and Brian Torff at the Capital Radio Jazz Festival, Alexandra Palace, London in July 1979 is by Denis Williams.

NJA on Radio Essex

NJA trustee John Dale was interviewed by Jodie Halford on Radio Essex on 21 August in a programme about Loughton and Debden, when he talked about the Archive and its work. You can listen to the interview here starting at 1:35 into the show.

Women in Jazz

NJA supported the organisation Women in Jazz by providing a copy of ‘The Girls in the Band’ (the 2006 film chronicling the challenges and triumphs of female musicians breaking into the male-dominated world of big band, swing and jazz), for showing at an event at the Barbican on 22 July, attended by around 200 members of the Young Barbican scheme. The event was part of a programme in support of the Lee Krasner exhibition. Information about ‘The Girls in the Band’ can be found here, and details of Women in Jazz are here.


Recent news and features about jazz you may have missed

Jazz on the Telly – 12 October
Birmingham City University is holding a one-day conference at the conclusion of Nicolas Pillai’s project, Jazz on BBC TV 1960–69. The day will include a reflection on the project, an industry panel on the future of jazz television, a strategy meeting on the formation of a jazz and media network and the launch of two publications: a special issue on the subject of jazz television and the report ‘Reconstructing Television History: the case of Jazz 625’.

The conference aims to gather academics, musicians and industry professionals working on jazz television and television history to share current work and create collaborative opportunities. Attendance is free and refreshments will be provided. Tickets can be booked here.

Ronnie Scott’s anniversary exhibition 
An exhibition of photographic portraits by Freddy Warren, marking the 60th anniversary of London’s legendary jazz club and the publication of a book by Reel Art Press, is being held at the Barbican Music Library, London from 12 October to 4 January 2020. The photos include performance shots and off-stage pictures of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone and more. They also include Ronnie Scott overseeing the construction of his club’s iconic Soho venue.

The exhibition will be at the Barbican Music Library, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS. Opening hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9.30am–5.30pm, Tuesday, Thursday 9.30am–7.30pm, Saturday 9.30am–4pm.

More information about Freddy Warren is here.

Georgia Blues: Blind Willie McTell
This 54-minute documentary film is a biopic of the legendary Georgia bluesman Blind Willie McTell, with Taj Mahal, Stefan Grossman, historian Daphne Duval Harrison, and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. It was created by David Fulmer for Georgia Public Television in 1997 and is a part of the South Georgia Folklife Collection at Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections. 

JazzTimes launches searchable archive
JazzTimes magazine is offering subscriptions to individuals and institutions to a searchable archive of over 80 issues accessible on web, iOS and Android. Since 1970, JazzTimes has served as a source of information and views on the music’s past, present and future. Published 10 times a year, each issue features profiles of industry stars and reviews of events, artists and organisations. 

Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines – 1975
This 50-minute documentary on pianist Earl Hines was made at the Blues Alley nightclub in Washington DC for ITV. The International Herald Tribune called it “The greatest jazz film ever made”. In the film, Hines said, “The way I like to play is that ... I’m an explorer, if I might use that expression, I’m looking for something all the time ... almost like I’m trying to talk.”
The National Jazz Archive was founded by trumpeter Digby Fairweather in 1988 and is supported by Essex County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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