23 November 2015


We read in the December edition of Jazz Guide about yet another traditional jazz club in England that is closing down for good at the end of 2015, after having hosted jazz bands pretty well every Thursday night for many years.

This seems to be the trend in England. Audiences are dwindling. Each club has its own little nucleus of elderly folk who try to attend regularly. But as these people die or become incapable of turning out, the club withers.

Here's a recent photo taken at one of England's more successful clubs. Its sessions are held at lunchtimes on Sundays.
Fewer than fifty people attended and they were elderly. It's hard to imagine that even such a club as this will still be in operation a few years from now.

I'm sorry to paint this gloomy picture and - as regular readers know - I am thrilled that there is still some great traditional jazz being played by young people throughout the world, if you care to look for it.

But in England, ask 'the man in the street' where you can go to hear a live traditional jazz band, and he would be unable to tell you. In fact, he might not even understand your question.

The music gets so little exposure in the most influential of the media.

When Christmas shopping, I visited the store that has the largest collection of CDs in Nottingham. It has a section labelled 'JAZZ'. But I couldn't find a single CD that could indisputably be described as 'traditional jazz'.

The last two generations have grown up on the disco music of recent decades and are unaware of much else. Making matters worse, music education in schools is very limited. It seems to me that it's only the privileged few who even learn to play an instrument.

Fortunately, we have twenty or so brilliant musicians in the United Kingdom who are under the age of forty and playing fine traditional jazz. But that's not many in a population of about 65,000,000. In general the future for traditional jazz in England is not looking good.