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News from the National Jazz Archive
A message from the National Jazz Archive
We have continued to carefully consider Government advice about coronavirus and have decided to cancel the fundraising concert on 18 July by Martin Speake, Simon Purcell, Calum Gourlay and Matt Fishwick, celebrating the centenary of Charlie Parker’s birth.

Ticket options
Fundraising concerts are a vital source of income for the Archive. Every penny raised goes towards our work for the past, present and future of jazz. We therefore ask anyone who has bought a ticket for the Charlie Parker centenary concert on 18 July to consider donating the purchase price to the Archive. 
•    If you wish to make a donation, please confirm by email and indicate if you are eligible for and happy to include a Gift Aid donation;
•    If you would like a refund please email enquiries@nationaljazzarchive.org.uk with details so we can arrange a bank transfer.

The Archive remains closed, so we cannot respond in detail to your requests about our collections and resources. But remember that our website holds hundreds of digitised images, journals, posters, interviews and other resources for you to enjoy. Even if you have visited our website in the past, do go back again to explore the new material that has recently been added, and see the changes to the way in which the work of the Archive is presented. More details are given below.

Some of our great team of volunteers are continuing to work on projects from home, but their regular weekly sessions of sorting, accessioning, cataloguing and digitising are on hold. Meanwhile, you can read some of their stories here.

Our thoughts are with everyone, especially musicians, who are struggling in these difficult and challenging times. 

The NJA Trustees
Friday 5 June 2020


Darius Brubeck

We are very relieved to hear that pianist-composer Darius Brubeck is on the road to recovery after his serious illness. He was struck down in March by Covid-19 and spent much time in intensive care. Darius had been due to play a much-anticipated fundraising concert for the NJA at Loughton on 18 April with his quartet. Now recovering at home in Sussex, he speculates in a press interview that the virus may have caught him when he was playing a crowded gig at Ronnie Scott’s with his brothers Chris and Dan, who also became ill. 

All of us at the Archive send our best wishes to Darius and his wife Cathy, and look forward to his full recovery and to hearing him in live performance again soon.
Photo: Hugo Berkeley


NJA website updated

Work has been going on for the past few weeks to upload more resources to the NJA website and to update some of its features so it works well on mobile devices as well as laptops and PCs. This is not only to keep the site up-to-date, but also in preparation for extending our social media activities, which we are planning soon.

We’ve worked to improve the site’s attractiveness, and added a new section for occasional longer articles with News and Events – the first of these is about Benny Goodman

We’ve added a new section with stories by some of our wonderful team of volunteers, who are connected by an interest and passion in jazz. 

Thanks to Trustee John Rosie for planning and organising the updating.

Why not visit www.nationaljazzarchive.org.uk and see for yourselves. Do let us know what you think, and what features you particularly enjoy.


Jazz books for sale

In the past few months the Archive has received wonderfully generous legacy donations of about 1000 books on jazz and blues from Michael Brocking, Tony Farsky and John Sturgess.

Around 120 of these have been added to our collection, but the rest, which we already hold copies of, are being sold to support our work. The first batch was sold at our fundraising concert in February, but with the coronavirus lockdown, our fundraising concerts are cancelled for the time being, so we are now offering 70 books for sale by mail order. 

Featured this month are books on New Orleans, jazz in Britain, swing and big bands, memoires and biographies, history and criticism, singers and blues.

Download information about these titles, and how to order them here. We have only one copy of most of them, so please email us to check that the ones you are interested in are still available.


Thank you Waitrose! 

Waitrose supermarket in Buckhurst Hill, close to the Archive’s home in Loughton, Essex, selected the NJA as one of its three ‘Community Matters’ partners for March, just before the coronavirus lockdown started. Each month shoppers vote for the charity of their choice with tokens from the checkout to decide how a monthly allocation of £1000 is to be divided between three charities.

We were delighted to hear that £290 will be coming to the Archive shortly.

Thank you Waitrose!


Welcome to new NJA trustees 

Dr Corey Mwamba was born, and is based, in Derby. He is recognised as a highly creative improviser and composer working across a wide range of jazz and contemporary music.

Corey is the current presenter of ‘Freeness’, a weekly show or improvised music on BBC Radio 3. He founded, and administers Out Front!, an East Midlands-based new music promoting/producing organisation.

He is on a postdoctoral research fellowship at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and has been an NJA Trustee since January.

John Rosie is a chartered engineer and passionate jazz music enthusiast. Now retired from full-time work, John has a broad experience of executive management, including general management, marketing and project management within various information technology (IT) and communication sectors. 

John has been a Trustee since May and is responsible for the IT and digital marketing aspects of the Archive, including its online promotion through social media and the website. Away from his Archive activities John is a keen gardener.

Many thanks to John Dale and Jez Collins, who have stepped down from the NJA board of trustees after three and five years, respectively. They brought a wide range of expertise and ideas to our discussions and activities and made a great contribution to our work.


Become a Trustee for the NJA 

The Archive is seeking trustees with the following specific areas of expertise:
•    Archiving/libraries
•    Fundraising

You will need to have relevant professional qualifications and/or extensive relevant experience. You will be expected to:
•    Attend four full trustees meetings per year
•    Work collaboratively and on a regular basis with staff and volunteers
•    Have a ‘hands-on’ approach
•    Commit for a minimum period of three years.

In return you can expect a fascinating and fulfilling role as part of a friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable team. For further information contact Paul Kaufman chair@nationaljazzarchive.org.uk.


Gems from the Archive – Humphrey Lyttelton

On the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, the Daily Mirror published a feature on the trumpet player heard in the crowds outside Buckingham Palace on 8 May 1945. 

The sound of cheering was almost all that could be heard, but the faint sound of a trumpeter playing ‘Roll out the Barrel’ could also be heard, who was later identified as Humphrey Lyttelton.  

Humph, not yet demobbed from the Grenadier Guards, was inadvertently giving his first broadcast performance. The BBC Radio recording can be heard here.   

In 1947, Humph joined George Webb’s Dixielanders as the single trumpet-player, replacing the previous line-up of two trumpets, to the approval of the Revivalist Jazz movement, which favoured the standard New Orleans front line of trumpet, trombone and clarinet.


The Humphrey Lyttelton Band playing at a 'Riverboat Shuffle', 1948.

In 1948, he formed his own band, which became one of the leading bands playing traditional jazz. He continued to lead his own bands, with varying styles and personnel, until shortly before he died in 2008, gradually shifting to a more mainstream and adventurous approach.


The programme for a concert in Barking on 2 March 1952 when Humph played with the Chris Barber Band.

In 1953 he added saxophonists to the line-up, which did not meet with the approval of all his fans. At a Birmingham Town Hall concert, Bruce Turner was greeted by a banner bearing the words that have become part of jazz legend, “Go Home Dirty Bopper!”


The Humphrey Lyttelton Band at Hammersmith Town Hall in 1956. From the Bryon J Mason collection

For almost 60 years, Humph was at the centre of British jazz, as well as working as a cartoonist for the Daily Mail and other publications, and writing many fine books about jazz. His work on radio and TV for more than 40 years made jazz widely accessible and he was, for the general public, the face of British jazz.

He chaired the hugely popular BBC Radio 4 programme ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’ from 1972 until shortly before he died. His persona was a significant part of that success – a straight man surrounded by mayhem.

The National Jazz Archive is particularly proud to feature a self-penned cartoon image by Lyttelton which forms part of the Archive’s logo.

The Humphrey Lyttelton website has many of his cartoons, photos of his bands, and much personal information.


Les Tomkins and John Cumming

We are sad to record the recent deaths of two good friends of the National Jazz Archive.

Les Tomkins died in April aged 89. Les was a magazine journalist who interviewed many hundreds of jazz musicians. He wrote initially for Melody Maker and Jazz News but worked for Crescendo magazine for 26 years until 1988, editing it for some 18 years. In his later years he wrote for The Jazz Rag. Around 200 of his interviews are available on the NJA website. He was himself interviewed during the Archive’s Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence project in 2016, when he looked back on his own career and his remarkable affinity with and sensitivity to musicians. This is exemplified by the fact that so many visiting American stars were happy to be interviewed by him every time they toured the UK.

The obituary in the Guardian by Richard Williams can be read here

John Cumming died on 17 May at the age of 71. He organised Bracknell and Camden Jazz Festivals in the 1970s, co-founded Serious Productions in the 1980s, and went on to establish the EFG London Jazz Festival, one of the world’s leading festivals. Warm tributes have been paid to John in the Guardian, Jazzwise, the Serious website and the European Jazz Network, of which John was a founding member.

Seen and heard elsewhere

Much wonderful music is being made and shared online during the coronavirus lockdown. Here are some links to recent and historic material.  

Tuba Skinny in France
New Orleans band Tuba Skinny toured Europe in summer last year. Here they are playing in the rather windy seaside town of Anglet in South-West France in July.

London Jazz Collector 
LJC continues to analyse jazz records, particularly those made between about 1955 and 1970, with passion and wit, regularly demonstrating an extraordinarily detailed appetite for research into the minutiae of record label systems and procedures. Recent posts have featured Sam Rivers, Jackie McLean and Stanley Turrentine.

Pablo Held investigates … 
In this series of relaxed and lengthy interviews, pianist Pablo Held talks to his musical heroes and peers. He discusses their creative process, the inspiration behind the music and memorable moments in their careers. Nearly 50 interviews carried out over the past two years can be heard here. Beginning with Wayne Shorter, the list of many other people interviewed includes Bill Frisell, Steve Swallow, Dave Holland, Norma Winstone and Mike Gibbs.

Norma Winstone – Sweet Time Suite
Norma Winstone reprises her original performance of Kenny Wheeler’s ‘Sweet Time Suite’ with the Jazz Orchestra of the Franz Liszt University, Weimar, in a performance from June 2019, conducted by Stefan Schultze, with Magnus Schriefl on flugelhorn. A comment below the video reads: “This piece now seems underpinned by a profound sense of melancholy and loss, made all the more poignant by the overt emotionalism of Norma Winstone’s ethereal, often other-worldly vocals.”

Buddy Bolden’s blues
An article in the Louisiana-based 64 Parishes asks whether a simple vitamin deficiency caused the jazz pioneer’s mental illness.

Before the blues
Blues historian and writer Paul Oliver made two BBC radio broadcasts in 1987 on country blues and the African origins of the blues. Both can be listened to here.

Blues like a shower of rain    
This film by John Jeremy is based on the photographs and field recordings Paul Oliver made during his journey through the Deep South in 1960 that led to his classic book Conversation with the Blues

The National Jazz Archive requires your support, financially and in kind. There are many ways in which you can help and contribute. For its continuing success, the Archive requires a great deal of skilled work to conserve, catalogue and digitise our collections, and make them accessible to researchers, writers, journalists, students and enthusiasts through our website. Expert staff are needed to manage and develop the Archive to professional standards.

Your support is vital for all these tasks, and to secure the future development of the Archive. In turn, your support will preserve the jazz heritage of the past and ensure its future.

You can make a regular or one-off donation using a credit or debit card securely through the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) or by cheque. If you are a UK taxpayer and are eligible to Gift Aid your donation, completing a Gift Aid declaration form enables the Archive to increase your gift by 25p for every £1 given (at current rate), at no extra cost to you or us.

If you wish to make a donation by sending us a cheque please download and complete a Gift Aid form and post it to us along with your cheque.

And finally ...

A group of friends in Brighton are keeping each other’s spirits up by sharing a daily joke template, to which everyone is permitted to send one completed joke per day. The rules of the Relentless Joke Machine include this instruction: “Please don’t comment on everyone’s jokes. A limit of two hearty congratulations or withering critiques per day should be adequate.”

A recent template was “What do you get if you cross … and a jazz musician?” Here are some of the replies, with answers below (groans are optional).

•    What do you get if you cross the most solitary brother in the abbey and a jazz musician?
•    What do you get if you cross a toilet, a locomotive carrying solid fuel and a jazz musician?
•    What do you get if you cross a receipt from a bike shop and a jazz musician?
•    What do you get if you cross a tyre, a rope and a jazz musician?
•    What do you get if you cross ancient social media with most of Dizzy Gillespie?
•    What do you get if you cross muscle relaxants and a jazz musician?
•    What do you get if you cross a Swiss timepiece and a jazz musician?

Answers: Theloneliest Monk, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Swing, Bebo, Louis Armweak, Swatchmo. 

More to follow next month (if you can stand it).
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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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