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

Rediscovering Jazz 625 + Archive AGM, 7 December

The National Jazz Archive’s 2019 Annual General Meeting will be at 12 noon on Saturday 7 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. 

After the meeting, Dr Nicolas Pillai of Birmingham City University will introduce and show extracts from his project ‘Jazz on BBC-TV 1960–1969’, in which he remade an episode of the programme in a modern digital TV studio as a practice-as-research output of his AHRC Research Leadership Fellowship.

More information is here

This is a free event, but donations to support the work of the Archive are invited. All are welcome, but if you plan to come, please register in advance on Eventbrite to help us to plan the refreshments.

Simon Spillett Quartet: 15 February – booking now!

The Simon Spillett Quartet – with Rob Barron on piano, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums – play a fundraising concert for the National Jazz Archive on Saturday 15 February. It will be a tribute to the music of the wonderful British jazz musician Tubby Hayes.

Simon Spillett is a highly respected tenor saxophonist who plays in a wide range of groups, and leads his own quartet. He has researched and written extensively about the great British tenor sax player Tubby Hayes, including a widely praised biography The Long Shadow of the Little Giant. He received the British Jazz Award for Services to British Jazz in 2016.

Rob Barron is a London-based jazz pianist, arranger and composer and has been described as “one of the most creative and versatile musicians of his generation”. His work as a jazz pianist has taken him all over the world and he has played with visiting American artists and in groups led by leading UK artists. He regularly appears with the BBC Big Band and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra.

A stalwart of the British jazz scene, Alec Dankworth is an award-winning jazz bassist and composer, who, in addition to leading several groups of his own, has worked with many artists, including Van Morrison, Stephane Grappelli, Abdullah Ibrahim, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He is known for his energetic stage presence, his versatility of style and for his solos.

Clark Tracey has been at the forefront of British jazz for over 40 years, and has led his own groups since the early 1980s. He has worked with many jazz greats from America as well as most of the UK’s top names and has recorded more than 100 albums, 15 under his own name. He runs a weekly jazz club and an annual festival in Hertfordshire and has received awards for the Best Drums category in the British Jazz Awards on six occasions.

The concert is at Loughton Methodist Church, 260 High Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 1RB, and begins at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £17.50.

Big Band Jazz returns to Loughton

Once again, the John Ongom Big Band delighted a capacity audience of over 200 at a fundraising concert at Loughton Methodist Church on 2 November. The 17-piece group’s programme covered the full range of the big band repertoire, including Basie, Ellington, Mingus, Quincy Jones and Oliver Nelson. They were joined by two wonderful singers: Catherine Lima, whose Peggy Lee tribute concert had been so well received at the same venue in July; and Michael Lack, who delighted the audience with his strong, clear voice.

The story of John Ongom and the band he established in 2002 can be read here.

The concert was a great success, not only musically but also financially, with over £2700 raised from ticket sales, a raffle, sales of CDs and refreshments, and donations to support the work of the Archive. And it was a pleasure to welcome John’s nephew, Matthew Okello, and the deputy mayor of Loughton to the concert.

Thanks to JazzLondonLive for giving the concert top billing in the run-up to the concert, helping to ensure a full house.

Ronnie Scott’s exhibition at the Barbican – last few weeks 

The exhibition of Freddy Warren’s photographs charting the first decade of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club runs until 4 January at the Barbican Music Library in London. Freddy Warren was the club’s photographer for 10 years from the opening night in 1959 and he captured the visiting stars of the day, including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Count Basie, Tubby Hayes, Ella Fitzgerald, Zoot Sims and Cleo Laine.

The National Jazz Archive has loaned items for the exhibition including three autograph books with signatures by Ronnie and many of his contemporaries from the late ’40s onwards. These were part of the collection of the late Roy Hulbert (1925–2018), who made a generous bequest to the Archive earlier this year.

Information on opening times is here.

Girls in Jazz at the Guildhall

The National Jazz Archive was proud to support the ‘Girls in Jazz’ day staged by The Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the Guildhall Theatre on 27 November. The event was aimed at girls in primary and secondary schools with an interest in exploring a career in jazz. Several dozen young female instrumentalists and vocalists took part in a day of workshops and other activities led by a number of leading female musicians. There was also a panel discussion led by Women in Jazz co-founders Lou Paley and Nina Fine. The panel (pictured) included Claire Martin, Nikki Isles, Yazz Ahmed and Amy Baldwin. There was a fascinating Q&A session with a number of penetrating questions which helped to underline the importance of girl/women-only events such as this.

The series of banners on Women in Jazz, which the Archive produced in collaboration with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra last year, and items from the NJA collection, were on display. As the event was at the Guildhall the material focused on pianist Marian McPartland. Marian began studying at the Guildhall in 1935 when she was only 17. Much against her parents’ wishes she left to go on the road after a year to join a travelling vaudeville band. The rest is history.

The NJA display also included an iPad showing extracts from the superb feature-length film “The Girls in the Band” directed by Judy Chalkin (2011). This tells the poignant untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists in the US from the 1930s to the present day.

The day culminated in a performance by the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra with Yazz Ahmed, in the Milton Court Concert Hall.

Documenting Jazz in Birmingham, January

The National Jazz Archive is delighted to be supporting the second Documenting Jazz conference, which is being held at Birmingham City University from 16 to 18 January 2020. The conference will bring together colleagues from the academic, archive, library, and museum sectors to explore and discuss documenting jazz and offering experiences from across the world. 

The conference programme and booking details will be available here soon.

Thank you – recent donations to the Archive

We are most grateful for the many books, journals, photos and other materials that have been donated to the Archive recently. Here is a full listing of donations and enquiries to the Archive in the past few months.

Gems from the Archive – Woody Herman and his Herds
This month we feature Woody Herman, who was born on 16 May 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and died on 29 October 1987 in Los Angeles. He was a clarinettist, saxophonist and singer, but was best known for his big bands, dubbed ‘herds’.

In the 1930s and ’40s his bands were noted for their exuberance and technical brilliance. He formed his Second Herd in 1947, featuring tenor saxophonists Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Herbie Steward and Stan Getz. The band pioneered the combination of three tenors and a baritone sax and became identified with the song “Four Brothers”, which used that grouping. Listen to the original recording here.

At this time, Herman was one of the few big band leaders to include bebop-tinged material in his repertoire. After the Second Herd disbanded in 1949, Herman continued to form and lead his ‘Thundering Herds’. In 1959, Woody visited London with a number of his US musicians. The cream of British jazz musicians was added to form the Anglo-American Herd. Listen to them on “The Preacher” here.

During the ’60s and ’70s, Herman became stylistically more eclectic, using material by artists as diverse as Charles Mingus and the Beatles. 

 He toured Britain many times and often recorded interviews with Les Tomkins for Crescendo during his visits. Digitised images of the interviews in the magazine can be read on the Archive website, along with transcripts of several of them:

•    September 1964
•    October 1964 (here is the transcript)
•    December 1964
•    March 1968 (here is the transcript)
•    June 1969
•    January 1971 (here is the transcript)

He performed continuously through the ’70s and ’80s and in 1986 released Woody Herman and His Big Band 50th Anniversary Tour. Although his struggles with the tax authorities affected his later activities, he retained his reputation as a superb leader and organizer until the end. His autobiography, The Woodchopper’s Ball (co-written with Stuart Troup), was published posthumously in 1990.

The photo by Denis Williams above (held at the Archive) shows Woody Herman at the Forum Theatre, Hatfield, Hertfordshire on 24 May 1983.

Rebel Sounds: The Frankfurt Hot Club
The Frankfurt Hot Club was a group of young German jazz musicians who defied the Nazi Party’s opposition to jazz music by continuing to listen to and play jazz despite the Nazi’s efforts to stop them. Associated with the Swingjugend (Swing Youth), an Anglo-American movement focused on music and fashion, the group secretly pursued their love of jazz despite the genre being denounced and later banned by the Party as degenerate and a threat to traditional Aryan values.

The story of the Hot Club is told in a small but fascinating exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London, until 5 January. Read more here.

It forms part of ‘Rebel Sounds’, which is itself part of ‘Culture Under Attack’, a season of exhibitions, music, performances and talks at IWM London that explore how war not only threatens people’s lives, but also the things that help define us.

Improvising medicine
Few patients like to think of their physicians or surgeons as improvisers. Yet clinical care is a human art where there will always be uncertainty. Though doctors spend years learning facts and gaining skills, each patient is unique and every situation holds surprises. Jazz musicians also spend years in training – practising scales, learning harmony and mastering technique. Such musicians celebrate their ability to improvise, to respond to one another in the moment in front of an audience. 

In this Gresham College lecture at the Museum of London at 6pm on 8 January, Roger Kneebone, Visiting Professor of Medical Education at Gresham College and Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science at Imperial College London, asks what clinicians can learn from the world of jazz – and vice versa.

There is more information here, and Gresham College lectures are also available to watch online.

Rhythm Changes: Jazz Now! – Amsterdam, August 2020
The seventh Rhythm Changes conference: Jazz Now! will take place in Amsterdam from 27 to 30 August 2020. This four-day multidisciplinary conference brings together leading researchers across the arts and humanities and will feature academic papers, panels, round tables, and poster sessions.

Submissions of papers addressing the conference theme from multiple perspectives, including cultural studies, musicology, cultural theory, music analysis, jazz history, media studies, and practice-based research are invited by 1 February.

More information is here

When in Brussels…
NJA trustee Roger Cotterrell writes about one of his favourite record shops.

Most of us have favourite, long-remembered, second-hand jazz record shops, places we keep returning to in search of treasures. In Brussels, mine is The Collector Record Gallery, right in the centre, in rue de la Bourse. I’ve been there every time I’ve visited Brussels over the decades. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of all kinds of popular music on vinyl and CD, but the jazz is always in exactly the same place. The shop layout never changes, nor does the easy-going atmosphere. When I visited recently, the only way to get inside was to climb over the tightly stretched lead of the patron’s immovable dog in the doorway. Usually I find great American or continental jazz, but this time it was a wonderful CD by English pianist Eddie Thompson. I wonder how that got there. If you’re in Brussels, be sure to look up The Collector. 

A new website for the shop is planned – here is a link to the present placeholder.

Advice for Jazz Students
Pianist, composer and educator, Liam Noble, has recently started a delightfully wry series of short essays around the theme of Advice for Jazz Students, on his blog, Brother Face, and working through from A to Z. Here’s an example:

“Advice For Jazz Students #5: E is for Eco System”
Musicians can be obsessive, they need to be, and often equally so regarding criticism of other people’s ways of working. Familiar scenarios might include, but not be limited to, the following:
  • He sold out (has an audience).
  • She doesn’t know her way around chord changes (doesn’t play standards).
  • They went “avant garde” and abandoned their values (they abandoned my values).
  • It’s all image and no music (the band are younger than me).
These sentiments are always sincere, often justified, mostly bluster and catharsis, and can often run riot when work is scarce and adulation scarcer. They are not to be sniffed at. Let them in.
In the end though, a musician who plays in a way you don’t approve of is making a space for you. He or she is cementing your own ideas about what you want to sound like. What do you hear in that space instead of them?

Shopping on Amazon? 
Just SMILE and you’ll support your jazz heritage! 

Did you know that the National Jazz Archive has signed up with Amazon Smile? This means that you can donate to our charity simply by shopping with Amazon – and it won’t cost you a penny.

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to your chosen charity.

Support the National Jazz Archive by shopping at

Christmas Gifts for Jazz Lovers 
Over 80 classic photos of jazz performers are available in the All That Jazz and Women in Jazz collections from NJA partner Heritage Prints – ideal Christmas gifts for jazz lovers! They are available as a range of wall art and photo gifts including framed prints, posters, canvas prints, jigsaw puzzles and other photo gifts – all professionally made and delivered to your door quickly and securely.

Seasons greetings from the National Jazz Archive
Here is Fats Waller and his Rhythm playing ‘Swingin’ them Jingle Bells’ in his own inimitable style, recorded on 29 November 1936.
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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Copyright © 2019 National Jazz Archive, All rights reserved.

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