Jazz Centre UK opens its Jazz Café

The Jazz Café and Living Heritage of Jazz Room will open on 7 October, expanding the Jazz Centre UK's facilities for exhibitions and live music

The Jazz Centre UK, in association with Southend Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, has announced the official opening of The Jazz Café and Living Heritage of Jazz Room at the centre's base in Southend-on-Sea's Beecroft Art Gallery. The opening day, on Saturday 7 October, will begin with Sir David Amess cutting the ribbon at 11am and will feature live music from some of Britain’s best known jazz performers - including Simon Spillett, Steve Fishwick and Alan Skidmore - plus a special recital by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra’s Academy Jazz Ensemble at 2.30pm and jazz movies throughout the day.

The Jazz Centre UK (a registered charity) opened in February 2016 as Britain's first official centre for the preservation, promotion and celebration of jazz music in the UK and beyond. It already operates a research centre, retail outlet, live music events and weekly big-screen cinema programmes: the opening of the Jazz Café and Living Heritage of Jazz Room is a major step forward for the organisation.

The new facility will be open to the public five days a week and will feature a constantly rotating series of exhibitions of themed jazz memorabilia and jazz art as well as its unique "on-screen jazz experience" in the café and films in its cinema. The centre will also extend its specialist opening hours to two days every week (Thursdays and Saturdays) for enquiries, public tours, school visits and workshops and other community-based events for all ages. The centre's supporters include Sir Van Morrison, Jools Holland and Charlie Watts.

Trumpeter Digby Fairweather, the CEO of The Jazz Centre UK, said: "This is a very big move forward for The Jazz Centre UK – as well as for our national musical culture... Our Jazz Café and Living Heritage of Jazz Room is a major public development of our aims which – over the next year – include extension into an additional 5000 square feet of space for community events including workshops and exhibitions for schools, students and musicians of all ages; public performance, the opening of a media centre for jazz on record (from cylinders and 78s via vinyl to CDs and downloads) and an art gallery. We also have exciting plans for a full performance space based on Britain’s oldest jazz venue – the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street – for which architects' plans are already fully drawn up.

"Southend-on-Sea – less than an hour from London with two fast rail lines and a newly flourishing airport is the ideal setting for our project. And with the current revival of jazz as a major popular force in our culture we couldn’t have come along at a better time".

For more information please visit the Jazz Centre UK website.

Bruce Lindsay

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