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. The driving force behind Guildford Jazz is bass player Marianne Windham (there’s a little about her story here) and since she started running the monthly gigs at the Cavern in March 2011, the club has welcomed nearly 800 musicians and over 14,000 music lovers to a total of about 250 gigs, organised over 40 workshops and 40 jam sessions, put on several jazz events in support of the Guildford International Music Festival and the Guildford Spring Music Festival, and raised £36,000 for charity.
We currently run two regular gigs each month both of which feature some of the country’s top jazz musicians: a jazz night in The Pavilion at Guildford Rugby Club on the second Wednesday of the month , and a Jazz Cafe in the bar of the Electric Theatre on a Tuesday night, as well as a monthly jam session at the Merry Harriers pub on the second Sunday of the month, and occasional workshops.
We also hold two larger summer charity events – a Jazz in the Park in the beautiful walled garden at Loseley Park, and an afternoon Jazz Festival on Wood Street Village Green . This year (2019), over 700 people joined us for two wonderful afternoons of jazz in the sun, and raised over £10,000 for Challengers , who provide vital play and leisure opportunities and parental support for local disabled children and young people, and 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. There’s a short video from the Jazz in the Park here and a review from Peter Vacher of the Wood Street Festival here , both of which perfectly capture the spirit of each event.
We’ve recently introduced a Friend’s Members Scheme, and 2020 sees the launch of “GUILDFORD JAZZ FEST ’20” , a weekend jazz festival from March 20-22nd at the Electric Theatre in Guildford (more details here), and a article here from Seb Scotney of London Jazz News about the precarious British Jazz world.
Guildford Jazz was originally started in 1982 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. From there it moved to the old Civic Hall in Guildford, and then to the newly built Electric Theatre where it continued to run a successful programme of live jazz gigs until 2008. The Guildford Jazz name was revived in 2012 by local bass player Marianne Windham who set up a monthly jazz night at the Freeholders pub in nearby Farncombe until the pub changed hands in the Spring of 2014. The club then moved to the Pavilion of the Guildford Rugby Club, and the club continues to go from strength to strength at this very popular venue. At the end of 2012 the Electric Theatre also asked Marianne to help them also put on a monthly Jazz Cafe night, and Guildford Jazz was reborn.
In January 2019 , the legendary drummer Bill Bruford kindly agreed to become the first patron of Guildford Jazz. We are deeply grateful for his support!
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.