News from the National Jazz Archive
Welcome to our November 2018 Newsletter


NYJO Nonet celebrate the Archive’s 30th anniversary

As the climax of the Archive’s 30th anniversary year celebrations, the remarkable National Youth Jazz Orchestra Nonet will play a fundraising concert at the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street on Wednesday 21 November – 21st century jazz musicians performing at London’s most iconic jazz venue. NJA Founder and Patron, Digby Fairweather, will be introducing the Nonet.

The NYJO Nonet is a showcase for some of the most talented young jazz musicians in the UK, who have all progressed through the NYJO family. With a focus on small-group improvisation, the Nonet will play classics from the Great American Songbook for which it has established a reputation for performing with great skill, inspired soloists and wonderful ‘cool-school’ arrangements.

It is anticipated that the Nonet will feature Harry Evans (trumpet), Owen Dawson (trombone), Lewis Boreland (alto sax), Chris Whiter (tenor sax), Jonny Ford (baritone sax), Joe Hill (piano), Nick Fitch (guitar), Joe Hill (piano), Jack Tustin (bass), Rod Oughton (drums) and Ellie Bignall (vocals), with special guest, NJJO alumna, Josephine Davies on sax.

The event is part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 16 to 25 November at venues across the city. 

'Women in Jazz' now open at the Barbican

The exhibition Women in Jazz – a Celebration of the Past, Present and Future is now running at the Barbican Music Library in central London. This free exhibition presents a musical and social survey of the rich contribution women have made to jazz over the last 100 years and of the talented upcoming generation who herald an exciting new era. It focuses on women instrumentalists, and feature photos, posters, journals, video and memorabilia from the Archive.

Thanks to Archive patrons Baroness Amos, who formally opened the exhibition at the preview on 15 October, and Deirdre Cartwright, who played a fine set with Alison Rayner and Louise Elliot.

Barbican Music Library is at the Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS. The exhibition runs until 31 December and is open from 9.30am Monday to Saturday, and closes at 5.30pm on Monday and Wednesday, 7.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday, 2pm on Friday, and 4pm on Saturday. 
More information is here.

Thanks to Brian O'Connor for his photographs of the preview evening. More of his photos are here

NJA exhibition in Birmingham until 19 November

Thirty years of the National Jazz Archive and the beginning of a partnership between Birmingham City University and the NJA is being celebrated in an exhibition in Birmingham. It marks the establishment of an NJA satellite in the Midlands, based at BCU Arts, Design and Media Archives, where the first archival materials have arrived.

Curated by Dr Pedro Cravinho, an NJA Trustee and BCU’s Keeper of the Archives – Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, the exhibition shows examples from a significant and exciting collection of jazz magazines, published in a multiplicity of different countries and representing a distinct and vibrant jazz diaspora culture during the twentieth century. 

The exhibition is at Birmingham City University city centre campus, Parkside Building, 5 Cardigan Street, Birmingham B4 7BD until 19 November. It is open to all (students, lecturers, researchers and the public) from Monday to Saturday from 7.30am to midnight (weekdays), and 7pm on Saturday. Read more.

Archive AGM on 3 December – all welcome

The National Jazz Archive’s Annual General Meeting will be at 12.30 on Monday 3 December, at the Archive in Loughton Library, Traps Hill, Loughton, Essex  IG10 1HD. It will be followed by refreshments, and the opportunity to thank all our volunteers for their great work over the past year. All are welcome: if you plan to come, please email beforehand so we can order enough sandwiches!

James Pearson Trio – 100 Years of Jazz Piano 

James Pearson and his Trio (Sam Burgess on bass and Chris Higginbottom on drums) will play a fundraising concert for the Archive on Saturday 9 February, starting early in the afternoon (time to be confirmed). They will present a history of jazz piano, featuring Oscar Peterson, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Erroll Garner, Bill Evans and many, many more...

The venue is Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB. Tickets cost £15 and will be on sale shortly.


Gems from the Archive: Duke Ellington in Coventry 

On 21 February 1966 Duke Ellington and his Orchestra gave the European premiere of his First Concert of Sacred Music at Coventry Cathedral. This extraordinary conjunction of secular music in a sacred setting was broadcast by ITV on the Midlands ABC channel under the title ‘Celebration’. 

The original TV film has recently been rediscovered and digitally restored. With support from the University of Warwick, the film is to be shown in the Cathedral on 29 December 2018. Entry is free and tickets are available here.  

The Archive contains a vast amount of information about the Duke and his visits to the UK, and two articles about the Coventry concert were published in Crescendo magazine in 1966. In April, Jimmy Staples attended the orchestra’s rehearsals, and in May, Brian Gladwell reviewed the performance.

Some brief, silent footage of the Duke during rehearsal may be viewed here

Duke composed three Sacred Concerts, performing them in many churches and cathedrals, including Coventry, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey. The premiere of the first was given in San Francisco in 1965 and can be viewed here

The third concert was premiered in Westminster Abbey in 1973, his last visit to London and a few months before he died in 1974. On this visit, Les Tomkins interviewed the Duke for Jazz Professional. The transcript, with references to his Sacred Concerts, may be read here

The showing of ‘Celebration’ has been organised by Ghost Town Coventry, Coventry Cathedral and the University of Warwick. Ghost Town Coventry is keen to hear from any Ellington fan who attended the original concert in 1966.   

Rabbit Records – update on donations 2018

Since 2007, Rabbit Records has been working with the National Jazz Archive to help people to donate or dispose of their collections of vinyl records and CDs. We are most grateful to Scott Nicol of Rabbit for his continuing help and support, and to everyone who has donated records and CDs to the Archive. During the present year, £1200 has been received by the Archive from sales of records and CDs kindly donated by Jenny Burt, Peter Butler, David Charles, Liz Davies and Kate Williams.

If you wish to donate your collection to the National Jazz Archive then Rabbit Records can facilitate the sale, with a proportion of the proceeds passed on to benefit the work and continued development of the Archive. Alternatively, Rabbit Records will purchase collections directly from the seller and then independently make a donation to the Archive to acknowledge the initial referral, so the Archive still benefits.

Find out more here or email Scott Nicol.

Women in Jazz – Heritage Images prints now available

NJA partner Heritage Images has compiled a special collection of images to coincide with the ‘Women in Jazz’ exhibition at the Barbican Music Library. It features images of some of the leading women musicians taken by leading jazz photographers Denis Williams, Brian O’Connor and Alan John Ainsworth. The photos make ideal Christmas gifts and are available in a wide range of sizes, frames and finishes.

Visit Heritage Images to see the full collection.

The photo above of Barbara Thompson was taken by Brian O’Connor at the 1981 Knebworth Jazz Festival. 


Want to help the Archive? 

The National Jazz Archive is a registered charity which holds the UK’s finest collection of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music, on jazz in the UK from the 1920s to the present day. We need more resources to ensure that we manage our collection to professional standards, and that we do more to make the collection accessible.

You can help by making your online purchases through EasyFundraising – and it doesn’t cost you anything! Here’s how.


Recent news and features about jazz you may have missed
Documenting Jazz. The first jazz conference in Ireland takes place in Dublin in January 2019.

The Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies is published in December – preorder and save £35

George McKay invites responses to his blog post on UK jazz and the transatlantic slave trade.

The end of an era: MusicTank closes.

Recent BBC programmes on jazz and blues: 
  • The Shuffle: London’s New Jazz Tej Adeleye meets the new generation of British musicians shaking up the jazz establishment.
  • Blues & Beyond Cerys Matthews and Val Wilmer select their favourite blues musicians, several of whom Val has met and photographed.
  • I was Frank Sinatra’s Unwanted Saxophonist Saxophonist Duncan Lamont talks about growing up in Greenock, playing saxophone, composing music for Mr Benn, King Rollo and Spot, and being fired from Sinatra’s band.


You can use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to feed back things you would like to see or know and all those questions you would like to ask. Social media are your routes to communicate back to us, rather than the one-way conversation we have with you through this newsletter and our website. 

You’ll be able to reach out to the community of NJA followers to ask questions, and post other jazz news. If you follow things on social media that you really like and enjoy, the notifications you get of new posts become a pleasure rather than a pain. 

We look forward to your posts!
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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