If you’re a musician, or a student, or just interested in how jazz works, you’re very welcome to come to our Wednesday workshops before our main gig at the Pavilion.

Tutored by the UK’s top jazz musicians, the workshops are open to both students and more experienced players (reasonable technical competence on your instrument is required), as well as spectators, and are an ideal opportunity to learn and  develop jazz improvisational skills from some of the most experienced and highly regarded players in the country.

The sessions start at 5.30pm. until 7pm, at the Guildford and Godalming Rugby Club and the booking fee is £10 for participants.

Previous tutors have included:

GARETH LOCKRANE (Director, Junior Jazz Course, Royal Academy)
MALCOLM EDMONSTONE (Royal Academy, Guildhall, Trinity)
MARK LOCKHEART (Trinity, Royal Academy, National Youth Jazz Collective)
STEVE WATERMAN (Trinity, Royal Northern and Royal Welsh)
MORNINGTON LOCKETT ( Royal College, Trinity, Leeds, Royal Northern)
DAVE O’HIGGINS (LCCM, Goldsmiths. Birmingham)

Wednesday June 12th MATT WATES

Matt was born in London in 1964 and graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1988. He has appeared with Bucky Pizzarelli, John Colianni, Humphrey Lyttelton, Georges Arvanitas, Helen Shapiro, Don Weller, Bobby Wellins, Dusko Goykovich, Duncan Lamont, Ian Shaw, Norma Winstone and Peter King. He has recorded with Paz, Roadside Picnic, Itchy Fingers, NYJO, the Michael Garrick Big Band, Sax Appeal and Jamie Cullum. The Matt Wates Sextet has recorded nine albums on the Audio-B label. He won the Rising Star award in the 1997 BT British Jazz Awards, and the Matt Wates Sextet won the Best Small Group award in 2001.

About his sextet, Matt says: “I’ve been running this band for about twelve years now. The combination of two saxes, trumpet and rhythm section is a fairly classic one in jazz and has appeared many times in the last fifty odd years. It creates a lot of possibilities for an arranger/composer. As a writer, I am basically trying to come up with material that will be fun to play, and to create a strong mood that will communicate itself well to an audience, perhaps even a non-jazz audience. I feel my best compositions are the ones that create and sustain a mood well.

If you’re going to have a band, it seems to me you’ve got to have original material, otherwise you just end up sounding like a lot of other groups. I also feel it’s important to keep adding to the repertoire so that it doesn’t get stale. I therefore feel obliged to try to keep coming up with new pieces to play. About eighty percent of our repertoire is original, and the rest consists of “standards” from the great American songbook which I have arranged for the band. The great standards have a timeless quality although I hope that our interpretations sound fresh and up-to-date. In style, the sextet certainly resembles many of the great small bands of the 50s and 60s, such as those of Horace Silver and Art Blakey. We take inspiration from the past, but we are not trying to replicate it, merely to add in a small way to the music for which we have the deepest respect and love.

I strongly believe that jazz has to swing. To me, this is what gives the music that beautiful human quality which attracted most of us to jazz in the first place. We play some Latin American style pieces and some funky things too, but the heart and soul of the band will always be straight-ahead swing. If it isn’t swinging at least some of the time, I really don’t feel it’s jazz. I’m also trying to avoid some of the egotism that has beset the music since the 60s. I want a band that sounds like a band, not just a collection of soloists, and so we tend to keep the improvised solos fairly short, and punctuated with backing riffs. After all these years, the band is certainly sounding pretty tight.

In general, I am trying to put back into the music some of the things that I feel have got lost over the years : melody, swing, and the idea that a band should not be just a battleground of egos. Above all, I maintain that jazz should be fun to listen to as well as to perform.”


Wednesday June 12th 5.30pm to 7pm

The workshop is open to all instrumentalists. Some experience of improvisation is recommended and participants up to an advanced level are also welcome. Observers are most welcome also.

Booking fee £12 (students £8). To book a place please email

The masterclass will be followed by Matt’s gig with his sextet at the Pavilion, starting at 8pm, to which workshop participants are warmly invited (click here for more details about the gig)

Tickets for the workshop and gig combined are £22 (£15 students), and there’s a lasagne, garlic bread and salad supper available after the workshop for £8.