The Jazz Centre UK is Britain’s first-ever cultural centre for jazz in the UK. A Charitable Incorporated Organization (CIO:1167421) and was registered in 2016 by a Board of ten Trustees and a team of twenty-five volunteers. Digby (who, in 1988, founded the National Jazz Archive, Britain’s principal research centre for jazz in the UK) says: despite the music’s presence in Great Britain for well over a hundred years – there has never been such an organization to fully celebrate its cause. And this puts us well behind classical music (which has the Philharmonic Society, London f. 1813) folk music (which has Cecil Sharp House, London f.1930) and also rock music (which has the ‘British Music Experience’ f.2007 in London and Liverpool). So we are very much behind the times.
The Jazz Centre UK opened in 2016 in one room in Southend’s Beecroft Art Gallery. However since a major extension of premises and re-launch in October 2018 (hosted by Sir Michael Parkinson) we have greatly increased both our space and our services. These include a state of the art Media Centre where we show films, hold record recitals and also promote various community events including talks, recitals and discussion groups. We offer all our visitors a multi-media walk-through excursion celebrating the history of jazz in Britain and beyond; host jazz workshops and master classes in two fully-equipped performance spaces and also promote live jazz every week. Our Heritage Room holds a variety of historic artefacts including Louis Armstrong’s ‘Special’ trumpet, , Humphrey Lyttelton’s work-desk instruments, correspondence (and slippers!), Sir John Dankworth’s first piano and the portrait of his wife Dame Cleo Laine (by Duncan Shoosmith) which won the Sky Television’Portrait Artist of the Year’ competition last year (and which was presented to me by my old friend Dame Cleo herself). We also fortunate enough to enjoy the services of our Artist-in-Residence, Kay Whittaker and in addition host three more gallery spaces for local and national artists and photographers.
Please see our website: www.thejazzcentreuk.co.uk