“An afternoon full of wonderful music, witty stories, education and fun”
The James Pearson Trio (James on piano, with Sam Burgess on bass and Chris Higginbottom on drums) gave a wonderfully entertaining and informative concert to a packed audience on 9 February at Loughton Methodist Church. Beginning with Scott Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’, they moved through the history of jazz piano, via Jelly Roll Morton, Teddy Wilson, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Erroll Garner, George Shearing, Dudley Moore, Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson, with Duke Ellington’s ‘Take the A-Train’ for an encore.
James not only explained key innovations by individual pianists, but also illustrated their unique sounds and styles. He invited the audience to suggest tunes that he could apply those styles to, so we had snippets of the Harry Lime theme and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ as played by Erroll Garner, along with anecdotes about Keith Jarrett’s close physical relationship with the piano, Oscar Peterson on holiday, and CBE – known to pianists as the Count Basie ending!
Highlights were a stunning version of Bill Evans’ ‘My Foolish Heart’, George Shearing’s ‘The Fourth Deuce’, a piece written by James as homage to George Shearing, with a beautiful solo by Sam Burgess, and two pieces by Oscar Peterson – ‘Place St Honore’ and ‘Hymn to Freedom’. Chris Higginbottom provided entirely appropriate accompaniments, and fine solos and breaks.
The concert was also a tribute to the late Brian Browning, in thanks for the legacy he left to the Archive, and included a display of photos that Brian had taken at the East Side Jazz Club in Leytonstone over many years.
Many thanks to James, Sam and Chris for a brilliant concert, which raised well over £2000 for the Archive, and to Brian O’Connor for his photos of the group in action.
Documenting Jazz in Dublin
The first academic conference on jazz studies in Ireland ‘Documenting Jazz’ was held at the TU Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama from 17–19 January 2019. Attended by over 80 delegates from the US, Australia and Europe, it was a great gathering of jazz scholars, archivists, curators and promoters, including NJA trustees John Dale and Pedro Cravinho, whose full report is here.
The conference programme, with summaries of the presentations, can be downloaded here.
NJA trustees meet in Birmingham
The January meeting of the NJA trustees was held at Birmingham City University (BCU), to discuss arrangements for closer cooperation of the Archive with the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design (AMD). Some materials, mostly foreign-language journals, have been delivered to BCU and are now housed in the state-of-the-art AMD Archives where they can be readily accessed by the students and researchers in the largest centre for jazz research in Europe.
Professor Tim Wall, Associate Dean for Research, has joined the NJA board of trustees and gave some of those present a tour of the newly opened Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, including the Eastside Jazz Club in the heart of the building (pictured above), the concert and recital halls, and other performance spaces.
Anyone wishing to visit the NJA Archive at BCU should contact Dr Pedro Cranvinho, Keeper of the Archives, on ADM-Archives-Request@bcu.ac.uk.
‘Say it With Music’ in Chelmsford
The Archive’s exhibition ‘Say it With Music’ ran at Chelmsford Library for three weeks until the end of January. The exhibition explored how different generations have promoted, performed, supported, and documented our jazz heritage. We hope to take the exhibition to Colchester Library soon. Watch for details in a future newsletter.
The Archive out and about
A feature about the Archive by David Nathan, our research archivist, was published in In Touch, the magazine for retired staff from Commercial Union (now Aviva), David’s former employer, with materials from the NJA collections being given pride of place on the cover (above).
BBC Radio 4’s Making History, broadcast on New Year’s Day, concentrated on time. It included part of a long conversation recorded at the Archive in Loughton with trustees Paul Kaufman and Roger Cotterrell, and research archivist David Nathan. The podcast is available here and the extract starts at 19:40.
We are most grateful for the many books, journals, photos and other materials that have been donated to the Archive in recent months. Here is a full listing.
Leave a legacy gift in your will
The concert by the James Pearson Trio on 9 February celebrated the life of Brian Browning, who died in 2016, as reported at the top of this newsletter. As well as leaving his collection of photos of musicians taken over many years, Brian left a substantial legacy to the Archive. This is enabling the Archive to make huge progress in managing our volunteers, cataloguing, conserving and digitising our collections, and developing our new website.
Leaving a legacy gift in your will to the National Jazz Archive is a way in which you can contribute to our work and the music you love for years to come. Legacies help us to plan ahead and are invaluable to the long-term success of the Archive.
You can download our legacy information pack here.
Recent news and features about jazz you may have missed
Jazz Journal goes online – After continuous print publication for 71 years, Jazz Journal is now published in web-form only. It will provide a rolling news and review service with columns and features and about 70 reviews of new recordings each month. An archive of photographic and editorial material will gradually be made available, initially open access, but with the possibility of subscription as the archive grows. The old Jazz Journal website is still available here.