News from the National Jazz Archive
Newsletter 8/2021, October 2021

James Pearson Trio – A musical portrait of Cole Porter, 6 November 

Our next fundraising concert is on 6 November in Loughton, Essex, starting at 2.30pm, when James Pearson and his Trio will be painting a musical portrait of Cole Porter.

Cole Porter’s compositions are noted for their witty, urbane lyrics, and many found success on Broadway and in films. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs. His much loved and enduring compositions include “Night and Day”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “Well, Did You Evah!” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.

James Pearson is a world-class pianist, composer and raconteur extraordinaire. He is the artistic director at Ronnie Scott’s Club where his trio are the house band. His fine piano playing and arrangements can be heard on over 50 albums.

Bass player Sam Burgess is a stalwart of the UK jazz scene. As well as playing on numerous film soundtracks, his driving bass lines can be heard accompanying bands of all styles.

Chris Higginbottom is one of the UK’s top drummers, and is a member of the Kyle Eastwood band and the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars. Chris lived in New York for eight years where he played with many of the biggest names in jazz.

There are just a few tickets left, so book soon if you plan to come! They are on sale at the Archive and on WeGotTickets, with a small booking fee.’

John Ongom Big Band returns to Loughton on 28 January

The Archive is delighted that the John Ongom Big Band will be playing their third fundraising concert for us in Loughton on Friday 28 January 2022.

The band is a community big band based in Leytonstone, East London, and played two sell-out concerts for the Archive in 2018 and 2019.

Save the date! Keep checking our website for more information. Tickets will be available soon.

Jazz FM Awards – 28 October

This year’s Jazz FM Awards promise another fabulous night to remember on Thursday 28 October. The National Jazz Archive are honoured to be among the invited guests.

The event will recognise a diverse array of artists from the UK and abroad who have made a significant impact on the genre. It is a celebration of the incredible level of innovation, creativity and joy that the global jazz community has to offer.

You can read all about the event and the nominees here. The National Jazz Archive take this opportunity to congratulate our longstanding patron, Courtney Pine, who is due to receive the prestigious Gold Award in person. 

The event is sponsored by PPL and PRS in Music.

The ceremony will be streamed live from London at 7.30pm on Thursday 28 October on Facebook. You can either head straight to the JazzFM Facebook page or watch the ceremony at or at

The livestream will be free and you do not need a Facebook account to watch it.

Girls in Jazz Day – Guildhall, London, 5 November

We welcome the return of this important (and free!) educational event, first staged by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2019.

Female instrumentalists and vocalists aged 11–18 can look forward to an exciting day 
exploring improvisation, jazz standards and women in jazz. Practical workshops will be led by bassist Amy Baldwin, vocalist and radio presenter Claire Martin, jazz/soul singer and songwriter Zara McFarlane, Guildhall tutor and pianist Nikki Iles and saxophonist and composer Josephine Davies. There will be four groups to cater for varying levels of experience. All instruments and levels of ability and experience are welcome.

The day will feature a performance by the workshop leaders and culminate in an informal sharing performance in Milton Court Concert Hall. Girls in Jazz Day participants are invited to watch an open rehearsal by the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra ahead of their evening performance with special guest director Josephine Davies. 

The National Jazz Archive is supporting the event with displays illustrating the important contribution women have made to jazz from its earliest beginnings to the present day.

Admission is free, but registration is required. Details of the day, including the registration process, can be downloaded here.

Amy: Beyond the Stage – Design Museum, London 

The National Jazz Archive is delighted to be contributing to the major retrospective exhibition about Amy Winehouse’s life and career that opens at the Design Museum in Kensington on 26 November. It is the first such exhibition of the singer’s life in the UK and comes 10 years after her death, aged just 27.

Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial at the Design Museum, describes how the show focuses on Winehouse’s musicianship, fashion sense and the dozens of stylistic influences she drew from during her career: “It felt like there was something that had been left unsaid about Amy’s story and about her as a serious musician – the way she’s been reflected in the media has really diminished her legacy. There’s a lot of noise surrounding her story that has engulfed it and I’ve been trying to pick away at the layers, and make sure we tell the right story.”

Material loaned by the National Jazz Archive includes beautifully illustrated programmes featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, two of the important jazz influences on which Amy drew. There are also journals and listings magazines from the early 2000s, just as Amy was starting to make a name for herself. They include Jazz in London, where Amy is listed for her early appearances at Pizza Express.

The exhibition includes much, much more. The ‘finale’ is an immersive semicircular space where multiple computer-generated figures of Winehouse and handwritten material from her archive have been turned into an animated experience by Studio Moross.

Other items include examples of her clothing, her first electric guitar, a Daphne blue Fender Stratocaster that she used her debut album Frank. The show also details how Winehouse wrote and recorded her seminal album Back to Black, which made her an international star.

Jazz books for sale 

The Archive is delighted to offer more wonderful jazz books for sale. These come from the generous donations and legacy gifts made by Richard Baker, Geoff Barton, Michael Brocking, Nick Cottis, John Cumming, Les Dunnett, Kay Eldridge, Pam and Tony Elliott, Tony Farsky, Graham Langley, Jill Lince, Chris Lowe, Jon Oliver, Jack Palmer, Richard Pite, David Sharpe, Fiona Shera and John Sturgess, to whom we are most grateful.

This month’s 66 titles are in five categories: jazz rock and beyond: digging deep – jazz criticism and analysis; jazz for your coffee table; singers and songs; and blues.

We have just one copy of many of them, so a quick response is advisable!

A significant number of books donated in recent months are not held in the Archive at Loughton, so these have been added to our collection of over 4500 books. Many more, mostly published since 2000, are going to our satellite collection at Birmingham City University, where they will be readily accessible to the students and researchers in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Book review: ‘Nina’ – a kid’s book to inspire

This is the first of what we hope will be a regular Newsletter feature – a short review of a book recently acquired by the National Jazz Archive.

This beautifully illustrated work for children tells the story of Eunice Waymon, who grew up to become Nina Simone. To quote from the cover, it “shares her bold, defiant and exultant legacy with a new generation.”

The book deftly tells the story of Nina’s journey from a child playing the piano in North Carolina to her later years as a performer, protest singer and civil rights activist. Simone’s encounters with racism are weaved throughout, culminating with a description of the 1960s civil rights movement

“But while Nina sang of love, something else stirred in the streets of Philadelphia. A low rumble of anger and fear – the sound of Black people rising, rising, unwilling to accept being treated as less than human.” 

The book pulls no punches. Illustrations include black protestors getting hosed by white police, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by the Klu Klux Klan in Alabama, and people gathering at the Washington Monument after the assassination of Martin Luther King.

While the book is aimed at under-tens, it is one adults may enjoy, and benefit from reading! The language used is clear and accessible, but does reflect the American market for which it was originally written. It’s a great new addition to the Archive's book collection, and possibly for a Christmas stocking?

Nina. A story of Nina Simone. Traci N Todd. Pictures by Christian Robinson. Published by Scribe, 2021. Hardback £12.99

Soho Jazz Festival poster collection completed 

We are delighted to announce that the National Jazz Archive now has a full set of the Soho Jazz Festival posters designed by iconic artist Eduardo Paolozzi, writes Archive chair Paul Kaufman. They are superb works of art in themselves, as well as a fine reminder of this important festival.

The posters were commissioned by Peter Boizot, a friend of Paolozzi, and the founder of Pizza Express. Boizot began the festival, which initially ran from 1986 to 2002. Some of the posters gifted come from Boizot’s personal collection.

Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005) is widely viewed as a ‘pop art’ pioneer. This doesn’t do full justice to the breadth of his accomplishments. Other well-known examples of his work include the mosaic patterned walls at Tottenham Court Road underground station in London, the huge bronze statue Newton after Blake, in the British Library piazza, and the cover of Paul McCartney’s album, Red Rose Speedway.

Born in Leith, Scotland, the eldest son of Italian immigrants, Paolozzi was interned (along with most Italian men in Britain) in 1940 when Italy declared war. During his three-month internment his father, grandfather and uncle were among 446 Italians who drowned when the ship carrying them to Canada was sunk by a German U-boat.

Paolozzi studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, and at Saint Martin’s and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. He worked in Paris from 1947 to 1949 and became acquainted with Giacometti, Arp, Brancusi, Braque and Léger.

He moved back to London and established a design company in Chelsea with Nigel Henderson producing wallpapers, textiles and ceramics.

Paolozzi’s evening course in textile design attracted the Trinidadian graphics student Althea McNish, who went on to become probably the first British designer of African heritage to earn an international reputation. Paolozzi was instrumental in pointing her towards her career.

Paolozzi came to public attention in the 1950s with his striking screen prints and art brut sculpture. His seminal 1947 collage I Was a Rich Man’s Plaything is considered a torchbearer for pop art. While working in a wide range of media over his career, he became closely associated with sculpture. He always described his art as ‘surrealist.’

During the 1960s Paolozzi explored and extended the possibilities of silkscreen printing. It was against this background that he was commissioned to produce posters for the Soho Jazz Festival. The original posters are held in state-of-the-art archival conditions at the National Jazz Archive satellite collection at Birmingham City University where they can be viewed by appointment. Images are displayed on our digital media by kind permission of the Paolozzi Foundation.

Peter Boizot (1929–2018), though probably best known as the founder of Pizza Express, was also a politician, philanthropist and art collector. In 1965 he opened his first restaurant in Wardour Street, Soho, serving genuine pizzas which, up until then, had been unavailable in London. An avid jazz fan, Boizot opened his first jazz club in Soho in 1969 and went on to launch many more across the UK. The clubs have showcased many standout artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse and Jamie Cullum. Thankfully, Pizza Express has revived since the Covid lockdown and continues to be an important part of the UK live music scene. 

Do you have posters to donate?
The National Jazz Archive holds an important collection of jazz posters but we are keen to make this as comprehensive as possible. Donations, particularly of items not already held, are therefore most welcome. If you are thinking of donating, please contact us.

Not just the music – all about jazz

Since adding jazz-related articles regularly to our website, we have had great interest in the various stories we’ve published. We try to be entertaining as well as informative and would love to receive feedback from you using our enquiries email.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve added in the past couple of months and what’s coming up.

Rediscovering Sheelagh Pearson
Not a household name, but we believe she should be. Sheelagh Pearson was a pioneering jazz drummer at a time when women were rarely seen in orchestras and bands, let alone behind a drum kit and was winner of Melody Maker poll’s 'Best girl drummer in the UK' in 1954. Read about Sheelagh’s career and that of other female drummers during the swing era.

The history of authentic jazz dance
The second and final part of Nikki Santilli’s article on authentic jazz dance explores the different dances associated with the developing styles of jazz. Starting with the traditional folk dance of the religious African ring shout, we look at some of the popular dances of their day such as the Big Apple, Balboa and Lindy Hop. In video clips, you can see what made these dances fashionable and how they developed from one to the other. 

Coming soon
Keep checking our website for new articles – next month we will be publishing the story of how 78rpm records helped spread and popularise jazz around the world. 

Toots Thielemans conference, May 2022 – call for papers

An international conference Toots Thielemans (1922–2016). A Century of Music across Europe and America will be held on 9–11 May 2022 at the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR) in Brussels, and papers are invited by 15 November. KBR holds the Toots Thielemans collection, where most of his archives can be consulted. 

During the conference a concert based on Thielemans’ own compositions will be given by students and teachers from the jazz departments of the two Brussels conservatories. Other festivities around the centenary of his birth include the exhibition Toots 100: The Sound of a Belgian Legend at KBR from 22 April to 31 August 2022.

Two interviews that Les Tomkins recorded with Toots Thielemens when he played at Ronnie Scott's Club in London in 1978 can be read on the National Jazz Archive website.

The photo of Toots Thielemans was taken by Brian O'Connor at Ronnie Scott's Club in 1978. (
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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