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News from the National Jazz Archive
Newsletter 9/2021, November 2021


James Pearson Trio delights!

A capacity audience of 200 at the second National Jazz Archive fundraising concert since coronavirus struck were delighted by the James Pearson Trio’s musical portrait of Cole Porter on 6 November, writes Nick Clarke.

James used the full range of the fine piano at Loughton Methodist Church to present the individual character of Porter’s music, with Sam Burgess on bass and Simon Lea on drums sensitively interacting with each other.

They played more than 15 of Porter’s tunes, and James put each in the context of the film or musical for which it was written, and Porter’s life.

Porter’s wealthy family had been horrified when he chose song writing and composing as a career. As well as writing distinctive tunes, he also wrote the lyrics for most of them, and the interdependence of his witty words and individual music was key to his success.

The trio’s programme opened with a swinging “Anything Goes”, followed by “I Love Paris”, with a moody introduction and telling percussion effects, a swinging bass solo, and laid-back bluesy piano.


“What is This Thing Called Love?” opened with up-tempo piano, and deft, understated brushwork from Lea. The bass solo led into a lovely swinging piano solo, and a gently subsiding coda.

In 1938 Porter had a devastating horse-riding accident that left him crippled for the rest of his life, but in that same year he wrote “At Long Last Love”. This was recorded by Oscar Peterson in his Cole Porter Songbook album and James invoked Oscar’s spirit in his loosely swinging, inventive piano, with very ‘together’ playing from bass and drums.

Sam led in to “So in Love”, gradually setting the tempo. The intense and well-planned arrangement showcased his fine playing, with lots of light and shade, and drawing imaginative percussion from Simon from all round his kit.

The second half opened with an up-tempo Latin “Night and Day”, written for the 1932 film The Gay Divorcee, and a fine, varied drum solo.

A peak of Porter’s song writing for film was High Society in 1956, including “True Love”, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and “Well, Did You Evah!”. James recalled Dudley Moore’s version of “I Love You, Samantha” on his album of the music from the film, with virtuoso, two-handed piano.

Two songs from the 1936 film Born to Dance – “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Easy to Love” – were played in an intense ‘classic jazz combo’ style, as James described it, with dazzling piano and Latin percussion throughout.

James echoed Erroll Garner’s ‘trick’ introductions on “I Get a Kick Out of You”, with close interplay in the group. A long, dramatic, moody intro led into “All of You”, making full use of the piano’s range, and with excellent bass playing.


The trio’s last scheduled piece was “You Do Something to Me” from the 1929 film Fifty Million Frenchmen – a fast, two-handed showcase. But they gave us a fine encore, beginning with an ultrafast “From This Moment On”, segueing into a moody, out-of-tempo “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”, and then “Well, Did You Evah!” and “Too Darn Hot” – a great climax to nearly two hours of hugely enjoyable music of the highest standard.

We were delighted to receive this message from one of the audience after the concert: "Many thanks, once more, to you and your colleagues for a marvellous event. What a talented and very likeable trio. James is a master of the piano and of arrangements, plus he gave us some very entertaining info in between numbers. At one point I couldn't believe that he was achieving such amazing sounds from the piano. It was like a controlled and very beautiful storm. Such well known and much loved tunes too, played in so many different styles. Magic."

Thanks to Brian O'Connor (ImagesofJazz) for these photos of the James Pearson Trio
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Judi O'Connor donation to the Archive

Very many thanks to Judi O'Connor, wife of our regular photographer Brian O'Connor, for her wonderfully generous donation to the Archive of a cheque for £1000. She presented it at the concert by the James Pearson Trio on 6 November, and the photo shows her with Paul Kaufman, chair of the Archive, Nick Clarke and Roger Cotterrell, trustees, David Nathan, jazz research archivist, and Mike Rose, who was the main organiser of the concert.

Judi had recently had a successful lottery win, and she shared her win between the National Jazz Archive and the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.


John Ongom Big Band, featuring Catherine Lima, returns 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, starting at 7.45pm.

The outstanding 17-piece big band, directed by Angus Moncrieff, play the classic big band arrangements of Basie, Ellington and more. Catherine Lima joins them to feature songs from the songbooks of Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan.


John Ongom, who founded the Big Band in 2002, and continued playing in it until 2015.

Tickets are now on sale at the Archive or from WeGotTickets, with a small booking fee.


Catherine Lima at her concert at Loughton in July 2019.

The band is based in East London, and played two sell-out concerts for the Archive in 2018 and 2019. Catherine has featured in her own shows to huge acclaim at Ronnie Scott's, Pizza Express and the 606 Club. The gig marks the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the band.

Read more about John Ongom and the band here.


Elaine Delmar to play on 9 April – save the date!

We are delighted to announce that the wonderful vocalist Elaine Delmar will be playing a fundraising concert for the National Jazz Archive on Saturday 9 April. The event will be at our usual venue, Loughton Methodist Church, close to the Archive’s home.

More details will follow in the next newsletter.

Join us for National Jazz Archive AGM on Monday 6 December 

The Archive's Annual General Meeting is an opportunity to hear, from the comfort of your home, all about our work this year, and about our plans for the future.

Importantly, this is also an opportunity to ask questions and to make comments and suggestions.

It will begin at 7pm and last for no more than 90 minutes. It will include reports from key members of our team who will be available to answer your questions.

A link to the zoom meeting will be sent out separately in good time before 6 December.


Girls in Jazz Day at the Guildhall

The Archive was delighted to be part of this year’s Girls in Jazz Day on 5 November, writes Paul Kaufman, chair of the Archive. This free educational event made a welcome return to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London following a two-year break.

Around 50 female instrumentalists and vocalists aged 11–18 spent the day exploring improvisation and taking part in practical workshops. Tutors included Amy Baldwin (bass), jazz/soul singer and songwriter Zara McFarlane, pianist Nikki Iles, and saxophonist and composer Josephine Davies. 

The Archive’s contribution complemented the event with a display which highlighted the important contribution women have made to jazz from the outset. The event concluded with a superb evening performance in the Guildhall Theatre from the Guildhall Big Band with special guest director Josephine Davies. The programme featured a chronological selection of pieces by iconic female jazz pioneers – Lil Hardin Armstrong, Mary Lou Williams, Melba Liston and Toshiko Akiyoshi. It concluded with original compositions by Josephine, including the world premiere of “Gaya’s Breath”.


The event provides an important space for the encouragement of a new generation in an art form where women, no less capable than men, have for too long been side-lined.


JazzFM Awards 2021 – an evening to remember

This year’s JazzFM Awards held on 28 October made for another fabulous and memorable night. The National Jazz Archive were honoured to be among the invited guests.

The event recognised a diverse array of artists from the UK and abroad who have made a significant impact on the genre, and celebrated the incredible innovation, creativity and joy that the global jazz community has to offer. Most award-winners were able to accept in person. Some in the US who couldn’t attend spoke on video, including Jon Batiste, Gary Bartz and the legendary Tony Bennett.

Special congratulations go to three Archive patrons who were prominent at the ceremony:

Gary Crosby received the Impact Award on behalf of the Jazz Warriors, along with his partner and co-founder Janine Irons. Both spoke movingly and modestly about their outstanding achievements.

Courtney Pine was the recipient of this year’s Gold Award. He too graciously accepted this well-deserved recognition.

Soweto Kinch proved an excellent co-host for the evening, alongside JazzFM presenter Anne Frankenstein. Soweto has himself received many awards over time, and delighted the audience by playing sax with a superb band put together for the evening’s musical finale. 

And don’t worry if you missed it! Full details of the winners and highlights of the event can still be viewed here.


Jazz Book Club sale

This month's book sale focuses on books published by the Jazz Book Club between 1957 and 1968. The Club published 66 books at roughly two-month intervals, along with 15 other ‘optional’ titles. They were specially produced hardbacks in a uniform livery, and cover the whole field of jazz history, analysis and criticism, memoirs and biographies, blues, fiction and reference books.

We have copies of almost every one of the books for sale, but as usual, the number of copies of each is limited so, in the words of the Jazz Book Club newsletter: "There are very, very few copies of this book available and unless members act with great promptitude they are certain to be disappointed.” 

Grateful thanks are due to all those who have donated books to the Archive to enable us to continue running these sales, to raise funds, and to move all these books on to new homes.

Click here to download the sale leaflet.


An ideal Christmas gift for every jazz fan 

The National Jazz Archive holds important photographic collections covering jazz in Britain. Heritage Images represent some of these collections, including those of Denis Williams, Brian O’Connor and Brian Foskett.

Their photography represents a golden age of jazz, featuring artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Acker Bilk, Ronnie Scott, George Melly, and many others.

These images are available as a range of wall art and photo gifts – framed prints, posters, canvas prints, jigsaw puzzles and other photo gifts – all professionally made and delivered quickly and securely. They can also be purchased for use online and in publications.

With every Archive image purchased from Heritage Images, a licensing fee is paid to the Archive. Have a look at what is available.


Update on work at the Archive 

Our volunteer coordinator Angela Davies writes about the continuing work by our great team of volunteers

We currently have 10 active volunteers. Due to the lockdown closure since December, they have been unable to continue with some of their hands-on tasks, although our remote-working volunteers have continued to make good progress. With the re-opening of the Archive earlier in the year and the return of some volunteers, we have been able to resume our on-site projects. This note summarises our activities in the past few months.
 
If you'd like to find out more about volunteering at the Archive, contact Angela, on adavies@nationaljazzarchive.org.uk

The photo shows John Jordan working on the Renee Diamond letters.


Enhancing online interviews with jazz artists

Earlier this year, we began enhancing our collection of over 370 online interviews with jazz artists, which are available on the Archive website alongside the Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence and Jazz in Essex oral history interview collections. Biographies of over 200 musicians have been prepared, with short introductions for each interview or article, and photos of all the musicians.

Five trustee volunteers were involved in creating, editing and publishing this material, which was completed at the end of October.

Many of the interviews were conducted by the jazz journalist Les Tomkins with American musicians when they visited London between 1963 and 1987 and published in Crescendo magazine. Links to the digitised copies of these magazines have been added for many of the interviews so they can be seen in their original published format. Others were prepared by Ron Simmonds for the Jazz Professional website, which is now maintained by the National Jazz Archive, but no longer updated.

As reported in our July newsletter, Les Tomkins left his reel-to-reel tape recordings of interviews to the Archive. We hope to digitise and make this remarkable and unique collection available online at a later date. 

The final phase of identifying and publishing replacement images is on-going and the final updating will take place once all the images have been sourced.

We hope you’ll enjoy looking through these new biographies, which you can find in the online Interviews – Jazz Artists collection on our website. Just look through the thumbnail images to find your favourite jazz artists, or learn about somebody new to you.


How the 78 rpm record helped popularise jazz

The start of the jazz age coincided with the development of recording technology in the first decades of the 20th century, using 78 rpm shellac record discs.

In the latest article on the Archive website you can discover how this technology, along with the development of radio entertainment broadcasting, led to jazz spreading across the US and to Europe. Sales of records grew rapidly, but shrank due to the advent of the radio and the economic depression, which impacted the whole entertainment industry.

Read about how racism and prejudice affected record making and the marketing of jazz. You can also read how the record industry in Britain developed through the use of re-issued material from the US and rhythm clubs, established by jazz fans wanting to listen to and discuss the latest recordings.

Jazz and recording technology grew up together, each helping the other as they developed. Read the article How the 78 rpm record helped popularise jazz.

Let us have your suggestions for articles you would like to read on our website – we’d love to hear from you.


Another social media landmark for the Archive

Since developing a social media strategy in April last year, our following has grown steadily, and we now have more than 2000 followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, double the number on each channel just 18 months ago.

We’ve introduced images from a range of photographic collections now available on our website. This has helped keep our posts fresh, and hopefully interesting.

Our thanks to everyone who has supported us. 

We love it when our followers message us, provide reactions, comments or anecdotes about our chosen artist on social media, and we’ve made some great friends along the way. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, please use the social media buttons at the bottom of the newsletter to follow us – we look forward to you joining our growing network of like-minded jazz fans.


Diversity and the National Jazz Archive

Diversity has been a longstanding item on the Archive’s agenda, writes Paul Kaufman, chair of trustees. October saw a step-change in our approach. There are some who groan when this topic is raised – usually those in a more privileged position. It is important to reflect on why diversity matters so much to the Archive, and what we are doing about our shortcomings. I write in my personal capacity. 

The objective facts are stark. For example, every one of the Archive’s 40 or so personal collections is from a white artist or writer, almost all male. Artists at Archive events have been predominantly male, and white. Audiences likewise have largely been white, with very few younger people. Our volunteers, the lifeblood of the organisation, have been almost exclusively white. Of the 13 current trustees there are just two women. All trustees bar one are white.

All of the so-called ‘protected characteristics’ are relevant to diversity, ie age, gender, ethnicity, disability, etc. The trustees of the archive are well-intentioned and deplore all discrimination, unfairness and exclusion. There are therefore big questions to be asked as to why, in 2021, the Archive isn’t more inclusive and our collections, roles and activities don’t reflect our diverse population, let alone the jazz ecology.

There are nuances that need to be considered. An important one, to use the lingo, is ‘intersectionality.’ There are many ways in which individuals may experience advantages and disadvantages, and which often intersect. Thus, for many people the daily grind of holding down a job, and making ends meet, is a barrier to getting involved with the archive. For jazz artists, who have it particularly tough, contributing material to the archive may be low on their list of priorities. The fact that the Archive is based in Loughton, hardly a centre of ethnic diversity, has undoubtedly been a factor. 

Focusing on our shortcomings should also not detract from what has been done over the years to promote diversity and inclusion. Of the Archive’s 17 patrons, seven are women and five are persons of colour. Although the personal collections are not representative, the collections generally do include much material which is, albeit the way collections are contextualised needs to be reappraised.


Roger Wilson

While there are many reasons which might help explain the Archive’s lack of diversity in 2021, they don’t justify it. Hence the trustees decided that our annual ‘Awayday’ in October should focus on how we can change. Roger Wilson, from Black Lives in Music, opened the event by giving his perspective. This was followed by Q&A’s. There was broad consensus around practical steps that can and should be taken. There was also recognition that the changes we are striving for cannot be achieved overnight, although there are a number of measures that can be implemented relatively quickly.

The trustees adopted a formal Equality, diversity and inclusion policy which applies to all activities and stakeholders. This is not as an end in itself. However, it is an important statement of intent. It is also an important tool to help us address the issues methodically and monitor progress. Details of changes and developments will continue to be published.

The trustees welcome input which helps make the Archive fairer, more representative and inclusive, and particularly welcome the involvement of, and collections from, those who till now have not been adequately represented. 


Windrush exhibition comes to Loughton 

On 22 June 1948, 800 Caribbean citizens arrived at Tilbury on board the Empire Windrush, pioneering the multi-cultural society and redefining what it means to be British. They were the first of half a million Commonwealth citizens who had settled in this country by 1971.

You can celebrate the immense contribution the Windrush generation has made to British life by visiting the touring exhibition prepared by the Essex Cultural Diversity Project. It will be at Colchester Library from 19 November until 17 December, and Loughton Library (the home of the National Jazz Archive) from 4 to 31 January.

This exhibition is free to visit. More information about the exhibition, and about a Windrush booklist and podcast, is on Essex Libraries website.


Salute to Humphrey Lyttelton tour 

A 10-piece band of musicians from the UK and USA is beginning a 17-date tour this month, in celebration of the legendary trumpeter, band leader and broadcaster Humphrey Lyttelton, in what would have been his 100th birthday anniversary year. 

The band is led by award-winning trumpeter Chris Hodgkins, and will play Humph’s compositions and arrangements, as well as new pieces composed for the tour. An exhibition will include a media presentation and archive display based on Humph’s writings and journals.

The ‘Salute to Humphrey Lyttelton’ band features: Chris Hodgkins and Henry Lowther, trumpet, Charlotte Glasson, baritone sax/clarinet, Alex Clarke, tenor sax/clarinet, Diane McLoughlin, alto and soprano sax, Mark Bassey, trombone, Wayne Wilkinson, guitar, Jinjoo Yoo, piano, Alison Rayner, bass, Buster Birch, drums,

The tour is supported by public funding from Arts Council England with help and assistance from Ina Dittke and Associates, Jazz London Radio, Jazz Centre UK, National Jazz Archive and PizzaExpressLive.

The photo of Humph was taken by Bryon J Mason in February 1956 and is held at the National Jazz Archive.


Rhythm Changes Conference, Amsterdam, August 2022

The seventh Rhythm Changes Conference, Jazz Then & Now, will take place in Amsterdam from 25 to 28 August 2022. Submissions are invited for this four-day conference that brings together researchers across the arts and humanities and others interested in jazz studies. The event will feature academic papers, panels, and roundtables.

Papers will address the conference theme from multiple perspectives, including cultural studies, musicology, cultural theory, music analysis, jazz history, media studies, and practice-based research. Several sub-themes are also highlighted: jazz in pandemic times, environment and sustainability, decolonisation, jazz now?, jazz then and now.

For more information, visit the Rhythm Changes website.
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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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