Recently, I attended a traditional jazz concert at one of the best and longest-established jazz clubs in England. It was in the outskirts of London, far from my home, and I had never been there before.
The club meets once a week in a very fine arts centre for evenings of entertainment by visiting bands. It has a large car park. The auditorium has plentiful and comfortable seating. There is a bar selling food, and drinks hot and cold. The stage is ready-equipped with a tuned piano and a splendid PA system, so the bands are well provided for.
I was most impressed by the enthusiasm, hard work and friendliness of the six committee-member volunteers who run the club.
As with so many of these clubs in England, the volunteers were elderly and had become very knowledgeable about traditional jazz because it had been one of their main interests for several decades. The audience too consisted entirely of elderly people.
Having arrived early, I was able to chat with most of the volunteers. Like others running such clubs all over the country, they were concerned that membership numbers were steadily falling. At present they had just enough regular attenders to keep the club running. But a few had died in the recent past. The gentleman who booked the bands doubted whether the club would still be in existence five years from now.
As usual, we all regretted that the younger generation in England seemed to be taking little interest in this kind of music; and that there were very few young musicians to be found in English traditional jazz bands.
A couple of them told me they spend a lot of time watching traditional jazz videos on YouTube; and they mentioned the bands (all British) that they liked to watch. I was amazed they didn’t mention the videos coming out of New Orleans or Tokyo.
It turned out that these jazz club committee members – such knowledgeable fans – were completely unaware of the resurgence of traditional jazz being played right now to the highest levels by young people in the streets, bars and clubs of New Orleans.
Of course, I told them about the New Orleans scene, and recommended that they should start watching those videos.
But this experience left me thinking. If these people, who have loved traditional jazz since the 1960s, are unaware of what is happening in New Orleans, possibly there may even be some readers of this blog who also need to make the discovery.
So, just in case you need a prompt, try these two videos. Click on to view: