About Us

SEPTEMBER 2020 UPDATE: KEEPING MUSIC LIVE!

Like many in the performing arts world, local community arts organisation Guildford Jazz was stopped its tracks when live performances were cancelled in March. As a not-for-profit organisation, our aim is to bring some of Britain’s finest jazz musicians to a local audience, in an intimate and welcoming “jazz club” environment, and since we started in 2011 we have welcomed over 1000 musicians and 17,000 music lovers to a total of about 250 gigs, organised 40 workshops and 60 jam sessions, put on several events in support of other local festivals and raised £38,000 for charity. The pandemic hit just days before our inaugural Jazz Festival.

Not to be deterred, we rescheduled the entire Festival to May 2021, and have since been trying to find ways to keep Jazz ‘live’.

So far, we’ve held a large Zoom event for our members, hearing from the legendary saxophonist Art Themen and to listen to some of his favourite tracks and anecdotes.  We’ve also held two live streaming events from the Boileroom music hub in Guildford, with US tenor saxophonist Dave Lewis, and vocalist Liz Feltcher, which were hugely well received (there’s a sample of the feedback we received below!). Click here to watch recordings from these live performances .

In seeking more ways to bring live jazz to people, in August we approached the Yvonne Arnaud theatre in Guildford who arranged for a live gig in their Riverside Garden Terrace which sold out within hours. We arranged a second performance to follow the first, allowing for a complete Covid-19 cleaning of the space between gigs, which also sold out the same day. Later in the month, it was a great joy to be able to hold our annual Wood Street Festival, postponed from July. With the support of the parish council and with rigorous social distancing measures in place, the event was a fantastic success, attracting over 300 people and raising over £6,000 for the disabled children’s charity Challengers. Click here to see some photos.

With the arrival of September we’ve now restarted socially-distanced indoor performances, and are delighted to welcome saxophonist Ed Jones to the first event at the Guildford Cricket Pavilion on September 24th (details here).

We’re both delighted and amazed by the demand for live jazz.  As you’ll be aware, it’s a tough time for professional musicians and so we are proud of the creative and technical skills being used to deliver these brilliant musical oases of jazz in such a time of drought.

Audience feedback from Live streaming performances at the Boileroom July/August 2020

Many thanks for the streaming (and steaming!) performance last night – another success for Guildford Jazz!

Brilliant concert last night – closest to being there. Everyone in the band was in the groove despite the lack of audience and the lighting and camera work was great. Special thanks to the sound engineers for the broadcast. It sounded really good at home

Many thanks for a great performance from the Boileroom, it really had the atmosphere of a live gig, what a good venue to live stream from.  It was great to see such a talented line up live again, very enjoyable! Also able to mirror onto a big screen and the sound quality very good, it felt like being there.  Hope you can do some more. With thanks!

Thank you for our concert tonight. Very special as it is LIVE. This could be the way to go until gigs return to normality. Exciting to be a part of it, Thank you musicians!

Just wanted to say that we absolutely LOVED your gig at The Boileroom.  The programme was fab and the sound was totally amazing – so well balanced  –  the best we have ever heard, to be honest! Can’t wait for the August dates. Hats off to you for organising all these offerings during these extraordinary times.

We enjoyed our evening so much, as always outstanding jazz, a big thank you to all. The only difference for me was that I was able to get up and jiggle about knowing that no one could see me!! Many thanks again for a great evening.

Thoroughly enjoyed the jazz this evening!  What a wonderful way to connect with all the jazz lovers around!  Bring on more!!

This was a very polished production as well as performance. More please!

Fantastic concert. The voice of an angel and three heavenly musicians.

Nice post chat gig. No slurred speech, honesty… great gig, well done everybody!

Most enjoyable- I hope there’ll be more! 

Thank you so much, that was truly wonderful. You all played brilliantly together. I felt privileged to be seeing and hearing you all, especially as you haven’t played in public for so long.

WHO ARE GUILDFORD JAZZ?

Guildford Jazz is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (company number 11587522) whose aim is to bring some of Britain’s finest musicians to a local audience, in an intimate and welcoming “jazz club” environment.

Everyone is welcome, young and old. You do not need to be a jazz fanatic or expert or to join as a Member to come to any gig, although there are benefits to becoming a Member if you come regularly (click here for details). We aim to keep ticket prices affordable and offer half price tickets for students. If you’re a regular or occasional attendee at our events we’d love to hear your feedback – you can contact us here.

Since 2011 the club has welcomed over 1000 musicians and 17,000 music lovers to a total of about 250 gigs, organised 40 workshops and 60 jam sessions, put on several jazz events in support of the Guildford International Music Festival and the Guildford Spring Music Festival, and raised £38,000 for charity.

We currently run:

  • two regular gigs each month both of which feature some of the country’s top jazz musicians: one at The Pavilion at Guildford Rugby Club on the second Wednesday of the month , and a Jazz Cafe usually in the bar of the Electric Theatre on a Tuesday night
  • monthly jam sessions at the Merry Harriers pub on the second Sunday of the month
  • occasional workshops before Pavilion gigs
  • two summer charity events – Jazz in the Park in the beautiful walled garden at Loseley Park in aid of GUTS, who aim to improve the survival rates of people with bowel cancer by funding better screening, detection, treatment and facilities, as well as research into the disease (see a short video from 2019 here) and an afternoon Jazz Festival on Wood Street Village Green in support of Challengers , who provide vital play and leisure opportunities and parental support for local disabled children and young people (read Peter Vacher’s review from 2019 here)
  • an annual Christmas gig at St John’s Church, Farncombe
  • occasional pop-up jazz events with organisations and venues in and around Guildford

IN THE BEGINNING…

1982: Guildford Jazz was started by Heather and Colin Tipton, when it was called Jazz at the Stoke, named after the Stoke Hotel where there were monthly gigs until 1988.

1998: The club moves to the old Civic Hall in Guildford, and then to the  newly built Electric Theatre where it continues to run a successful programme of live jazz gigs until 2008.

2011: The Guildford Jazz DNA is unearthed and revived by local bass player Marianne Windham, who becomes the driving force behind (and in front) of the club (there’s a little about her story here). Marianne sets up a monthly jazz night at the Freeholders (“The Cavern”) in nearby Farncombe. until the pub changed hands in the Spring of 2014.

2012: The Electric Theatre asks Marianne to host a monthly Jazz Cafe night in the Theatre bar. We hold our first workshop with the late trumpeter Abram Wilson.

2014: The Freeholders pub is bought by a property developer and the club moves to the Pavilion at Guildford Rugby Club. Our annual charity  events are initiated with our first concert in aid of Challengers in the Guildhall, and Jazz in the Park at Loseley park in aid of GUTS.

2015: Our fund raising events for Challengers becomes annual with the first Wood Street Jazz Festival.

2019: Guildford Jazz becomes a Community Interest Company. Marianne and men without grey suits form the board, and legendary drummer Bill Bruford agrees to become the first patron of Guildford Jazz. Friends membership scheme is introduced

2020: The inaugural weekend-long Guildford Jazz Festival is planned….and postponed to 2021 as the country enters lockdown. A timely article here from Seb Scotney of London Jazz News about the precarious nature of the British Jazz scene.

ALL THAT JAZZ AND PHILANTHROPY

Guildford Jazz is a not for profit Community Interest Company and part of our objectives are to support educational and development opportunities and social and local charitable fund raising events. Since 2011 we have raised over £38,000 for local charities, and we have close links with the Cheryl King (Hirst) Trust which provides funding to inspire and enable children to have music lessons who would not otherwise be able to afford to do so. We recently became the first arts sector corporate ambassador of Guildford Philanthropy which works with local people disadvantaged by disability, mental illness, poor education or caring responsibilities.

Our Patron, Bill Bruford

Bill Bruford is unusual in being both a celebrated drummer and a later-life scholar. Voted into Modern Drummer magazine’s Hall of Fame (1990), Bill was named by Rolling Stone magazine as #16 Greatest Drummer of All Time (2016) and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the group ‘Yes’ (2017). Straddling both jazz and rock, his work as a musician is well documented on CD and DVD at Summerfold and Winterfold Records and at www.billbruford.com.  He retired from public performance in 2009 to study aspects of creativity and performance psychology, earning a doctorate from the University of Surrey in 2016. Dr. Bruford lives in the Surrey Hills.

Guildford Jazz is run by volunteers and we are always very glad of any extra help so do contact us if you’d like to be involved. We also provide musicians for private parties or functions. Please contact us here with details of your event and we will be happy to help.