FEBRUARY 2021 UPDATE
Guildford Jazz is a not-for-profit community arts organisation, whose aim is to bring some of Britain’s finest jazz musicians to a local audience, in an intimate and welcoming “jazz club” environment. Since we started the club in March 2011 we have welcomed over over 1200 musicians and nearly 20,000 music lovers to a total of over 300 events, including jazz workshops and jam sessions for local musicians. We are proud to be part of our local community, and have raised nearly £45,000 for local charities, and organised a number of events as part of other local festivals.
Like many in the performing arts world, we were stopped in our tracks when live performances were cancelled in March 2020, just days before our inaugural Jazz Festival. At that point we postponed the Festival for more than a year to May this year, hoping that we would be able to roll most bookings and all artists forward. Nearly a year on we find ourselves needing to make a decision about the rescheduled Festival with live performances currently banned once again. Sadly, following recent discussions, Guildford Jazz and the Electric Theatre have mutually decided to cancel the Festival. There are more details about the decision, including news for existing ticket holders, here.
Since March last year, however, we’ve been trying to find ways to keep Jazz ‘live’.
Following a large Zoom event for our members, hearing from the legendary saxophonist Art Themen (watch it here), we held two live streaming events from the Boileroom music hub in Guildford in the summer 2020, with US tenor saxophonist Dave Lewis, and vocalist Liz Fletcher, 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 Autumn, we restarted socially-distanced indoor performances with a sold-out first event with saxophonist Ed Jones at the Guildford Cricket Pavilion in September, and a Latin Jazz and Curry night in October plus our first all-evening live performance with Eriko Ishihara in the beautiful setting of the newly refurbished St Mary’s Church in the centre of Guildford and an evening with the wonderful alto saxophonist Allison Neale in November, finishing the year with our Christmas concert in the atmospheric setting of St John’s with the wonderful Gabrielle Ducomble, which raised over £800 for the Cheryl King Trust.
Since the latest lockdown we’ve been running further livestream events at the Boileroom, with Alan Barnes and Dave Newton, Trish Clowes and her My Iris project, and the latest with Freddie Gavita’s Quartet, and we’ve been delighted to collaborate with Jazz in Reading, Berkhamsted Jazz and Chichester Jazz Clubs in putting on these events. 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.
In non-COVID times we aim to run:
- two regular mid-week gigs each month, both featuring some of the country’s top jazz musicians: one at the Guildford County Cricket Club , and a Jazz Cafe in the bar of the Electric Theatre
- monthly jam sessions at the Merry Harriers pub on the second Sunday of the month
- occasional workshops before 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.