Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Original Invitation

What are We doing about UK Jazz in 2011, and for 2012-2015?
November 2011 at Conway Hall

An invitation from Helen Mayhew, Dorian Ford, Juliet Kelly and Mike Gordon

with support from Jazz Services, and sponsored by the Musicians' Union

This event was facilitated by Jenifer Toksvig

In a climate of cuts, what are we doing to ensure the future of jazz in the UK?

Is UK jazz something to be proud of or embarrassed by?

Is jazz misunderstood? What can I do to change that?

What does the culture around jazz listening mean for musicians?

How can the future of UK jazz be shaped in a climate of cuts, and the growth of homogenizing corporate culture?

Who will shape the future of jazz in the UK?

This invitation is addressed to you if you

- think jazz is acceptably incorporated into UK musical culture

- think jazz is marginalised in UK musical culture

- are worried about reaching audiences

- don't care about who's listening and just want to play

- think the scene is cliquey

- are a student/graduate/player/promoter/fan

- think the same people get all the gigs

- think there are too many gimmicks

- think the scene is run by a very few people

Broadcaster and DJ Helen Mayhew:

‘I feel very strongly that jazz is often a forgotten or under-valued art form in the eyes of UK arts funding bodies. Although attracting similar sized audiences as classical or opera music, the subsidy it receives is disproportionately small in comparison. It is remarkable how the jazz scene manages to survive in this country despite this lack of support, with UK jazz musicians of international standing and outstanding calibre often playing gigs for a pittance in comparison with their colleagues in the classical world. Jazz club promoters often run their clubs on a shoestring as a labour of love, while classical orchestras and opera houses receive massive subsidy. I feel it is a matter of urgency that the Arts Council addresses and remedies this imbalance.’

Pianist Dorian Ford:

‘When I left Ian Carr's workshop at WAC, and went on to study at Berklee, I did so because at that time, there were no Jazz courses at UK music schools. Now there are many. Jazz is starting to become an accepted part of the 'academy'. And yet, I am not convinced about Jazz's place in UK culture. I find myself wondering what the expectations are of UK jazz graduates. I wonder about the relationship between the need for innovation and playing 'standards', and if this is connected to selling out versus integrity; whether there is a clear or vaguely perceived tribalism around this issue. I hope you'll come along and join us in finding out what we are doing about Jazz, because it is our life, and our livelihoods.’

Singer Songwriter Juliet Kelly:
‘Jazz has always been a "niche" genre but now, more than ever with massive cuts to the arts, we need to think as a community about how best we can harness available funds and create opportunities for all sections of the jazz community. I believe it's the right time for us to come together to outline the needs of the UK jazz scene and to highlight the steps that need to be taken ensure these needs are met.’

Promoter Mike Gordon:

'As promoter of Scarborough Jazz, which has been operating for twenty-seven years, and director of Scarborough Jazz Festival, I’m well aware of the threat currently posed to the future of jazz. At club level the danger is that, faced with reduced funding, promoters will resort to booking tried-and-tested, commercially safe bands and performers. Little known, younger, innovative groups are already losing their lifeblood: venues at which they can perform. Audiences will not be exposed to new genres - a vital prerequisite for the healthy development of any art form. But it's not just a matter of funding. Why do the media give jazz so little space? Why is it such a low priority in national and local authority arts policies? Why are our audiences largely from the older generation? The jazz community needs to address these questions and many others. Everyone interested in jazz has something to offer. If would be great if you could join us at this important event. With your support - and that of others you may know - this day may be the catalyst for positive perceptions and support of jazz.'

If you've got anything to say, if you don't yet know what you want to say or you just want to hear what others have to say; if you find yourself passionate about jazz or passionately moaning about jazz, if you are a jazz veteran or a jazz novice, know nothing about it but are vaguely curious, know too much about it or have questions to add to ours, please come along because this event needs you.

This event ran using Open Space technology, which gives anyone the chance to propose a starting point for discussion, then take part in one of these conversations, flit between them all,
or head to the bar (or in this instance, urn).

The event was made possible due to the support and generous sponsorship of the Musicians’ Union, which has a thriving Jazz Section. More on this event can be found at More information on the MU can be found at

This event was free to MU members and £10/£5 concessions for non MU.

Email for news about UK Jazz Open Space 2012

Another blog...

Another blog about the Jazz Open Space 2011.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Is there enough money in Jazz? Why is that? Can we create a commercial status for the UK Jazz Industry?

SESSION: Is there enough money in Jazz? Why is that? Can we create a commercial status for the UK Jazz Industry?

Convener(s): Dorian Ford, Chrys Chijiutomi

Participants: Peter Slavid, Tabitha Timothy, Sue, Mike Gordon, John Blandford, George Foster, Peter Ind

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Commercial – not to be arts council based.

Arts council is money applied to transient things i.e. tours etc. as opposed to long term projects i.e. German radio stations funding big bands which go on to tour and make CDs etc.
What about BBC big band? Do they tour and make CDs?

Is the Jazz industry cohesive enough?
No, we don’t speak with one voice. Because of that it is unlikely to get much public funding.

Jazz organizations need to come together i.e. a federation.

Use arts council funding to seed core commercial ventures

Jazz is a word the audience don’t understand. Therefore audiences need ‘work’!

Where is the connection between public/private resources?

What about marketing a subscription series of concerts – possibly to sell to large companies.

Fan funding a way of funding a recording (USA)

A survey of voluntary clubs/musicians (i.e. 150 hours/week for nothing vs size of audiences) i.e. how much are this size audience getting for nothing?

How can the jazz community have the ear of arts council members/arts ministers? (members of the governing elite are more familiar with and likely to attend classical/opera than jazz – why? – when/how will this change?)

The jazz community/industry has no direct contact/influence with the establishment (with the possible exception of one company)

BPI AIM – we need to get inside these establishments

Issues about how public funding is used/obtained.

Issues about England being a very old establishment society with secret societies and old school tie networks etc.

Finding relationships with big money institutions i.e. investment banks etc.

Lobby BBC list of trustees and APPJAG.

Some reviews...

Two reviews from the LondonJazz blog here and here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Photos 2

Photos 1

Does there need to be antipathy/tribalism in Jazz?

SESSION: Does there need to be antipathy/tribalism in Jazz?

Convener(s): Sophie

Participants: Beverley, Orla, Sophie, Pete, Jackie, Keith, Alice, Peter….sorry I may have forgotten some

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I called this session because I encounter a lot of negativity between musicians who consider themselves to be part of one genre within jazz rather than another. There seems to me to be a big divide between classical/more conservative approaches and innovatory approaches, with a lot of bitterness directed from those who aren’t playing ‘new’ music to those that are. I think this is a symptom of the fact that there is a lot of fighting over rather small beans, and that people perceive that there is more hype/investment in ‘new’.

There was general discussion over the funding issue. Comparing Europe with the UK….6 radio stations playing jazz in France, for example, and a more ‘respectful’ audience in Germany than in the UK: there was suggestion of a more positive experience of performing in Germany, and of UK musicians' need to ‘protect their patch', which might inhibit them from being as welcoming as they would like to be with musicians they don’t know, thus making an insular vibe, possibly inhibiting the growth of
artistic collaboration, and gigs and audiences.

Lack of funding influencing programming policies….bands that are invested in financially will get gigs.

Intense competition

We started talking about lack of audiences for Jazz, and the relationship between that and people’s exposure to music in education…most experiences of learning instruments is of learning classical music to the exclusion of other styles.

Jazz in London won’t list trad jazz.

LJF – there was no trad jazz in the programme
- there was massive diversity in the programme

Could programming be more mixed – the classical approach of having well known repertoire in the same concert to new pieces. This approach might work in getting different groups playing on the same bill who wouldn’t otherwise, and lead to getting audiences to try something other than what they know they like.

Jackie – classical music may be better funded but has similar problems.

Discussion about tribalism and the need to identify with a certain thing.

Keith’s experiences of playing in Asia to audiences who weren’t expecting to hear jazz, but being incredibly positive in their response because of some culture around the attitude of ‘wanting’ to enjoy and engage with the performer who is comfortable doing what they’re doing.

Jackie: People spend their lives working in a narrow field feel like if someone criticizes their field, they’re criticizing their life.

Folk: same tribalism as in jazz, between traditional, modern, rock influenced…with audiences walking out and complaining if the music is not what they know they already like.

British Jazz Festivals
- mostly ticketed for each gig rather than 1 ticket for whole festival.
- Free stages enable people to go and see bands etc.

Sexist environment – women (singers?) not feeling as if they’re taken seriously by male instrumentalists.

Gender equality in jazz

SESSION: Gender equality in jazz

Convener(s): Rosie Hanley

Participants: Mau/Paul/Russell

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Why are there so few prominent female jazz musicians? …
Are there less women in jazz?
Female instrumentalists small minority – due to education/stereotypes/family & social responsibilities?
Image – more or less important as a woman?

There is some resistance from men in jazz –
Positive discrimination a good thing or bad? Eg All girl big bands? Should a musician be booked on merit or on gender?

Jazz history and tradition male dominated – is this just filtering through?

Whose responsibility is it to change the inequality….musicians of prominence/ promoters/ those in power/ teachers

Are there enough female role models?

Does a venue need public funding to ensure diversity….why can’t they ensure diversity without the funding?

But venues need to be successful

There are some people talking about gender in jazz – but why aren’t more…is it a difficult subject to discuss…?

Should we include discussions about race, sexuality, age in discussions about gender?

How do we get more recognition of UK jazz musicians on the European and World circuits?

SESSION: How do we get more recognition of UK jazz musicians on the European and World circuits?

Convener(s): Val Fenton (aka Flora de Gales)

Participants: John C, Verona C, Roan, Margaret

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Roan runs club in Rochester - finds punters ask for US artists, rather than UK artists, even if they’re not as good.

John C: re playing abroad: Acoustic Ladyland & Portico have active agent in Germany

Re funding:British Council less active than before – go for political influence in certain countries eg Dubai Jazz Fest.

Venues that Gwilym Simcock plays in may be quite different from those played by Portico.

What are we worth?

SESSION: What are we worth?

onvener(s): Tim Whitehead

Participants: Chris Greive (Scottish Jazz Federation), Rick Finlay, Annick Adjo, Jack Davis, John Cumming , Mao Yamada, Keith Michael, Val Fenton

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

A review of the economic realities of being a professional musician, and it’s impact on their lives and the development of the art form.

TW observed that BBC was an example of an institution (the largest employer of musicians in UK) whose agreed rates of pay are below a living wage (eg fee for live performance and rehearsal on national network radio £93 represents £15 per hr gross or annual earnings (if the musician worked at that level for a 40 hr week based on that rate of £25000 gross per annum in London). Cost of housing , and other expenses requires much bigger basic income.

Rick said very grey areas needed clarifying. The MU often asked for solidarity from members on specific issues , but failed often to get the response/commitment to support. Further discussion ensued about how to achieve that solidarity in the jazz field, and several examples of undercutting and lack of solidarity on working conditions were cited.

There were offered several ideas of how to encourage our fellow musicians

To understand the significance of their actions , including MU being more pro active in this area, and encouraging the musicians to action.

Several people expressed their fears of the effect on their career on taking such actions.It was felt that the Union could offer support in these circumstances.

John Cumming suggested we were aiming at the wrong targets. Musicians should research which areas would most help our cause, and then targeting them-would take time , but the current economic climate might see change 5 years hence. Big funders and institutions have entrenched positions around their interests and have good strategies for defending them.

It was suggested that the level of funding offered by Arts Council and others was proportionately so low compared to other art forms like opera and orchestras, that an adjustment in distribution could be achieved within the current levels of overall funding.

We should pull together professionals from other ares of finance etc to advise on possible scenario changes in the coming years to enable us to strategise.

Are There Enough Black Musicians On UK Stages

SESSION: Are There Enough Black Musicians On UK Stages

Convener(s): Dorian Ford

Participants: Beverley Orton, Peter Ind, Nigel (NYJO), Geoff Wright, Rosie, Russell Occomore,

Latterly - Peter Slavid, John Cumming

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

To some extent this issue is taboo with a good degree of hear say, rumour and general discomfort and lack of disclosure.

In NCY in the early 50’s the scene was integrated and became less so by the end of that decade

There needs to be equal representation generally within the industry i.e. nyjo has a diversity policy musically, ethnically, and gender-wise. The possible problem of NYJO in the past was a one man band which represented white middle class musicians.

The ratio of practitioners to venues creates extreme competition, but there needs to be collaboration.

The facebook page is that there is a perception that certain venues and organisations are being racist/prejudiced.

Debate is good and can bring us together. Change is worthwhile and necessary.

We are all humans, we all have something to bring to this music.

We all have a responsibility to address representation/unfair representation.

There are natural communities/cliques.

Public funding must and does mean diversity and representation

East Midlands – there are very few black/asian children involved in jazz.

Encourage young black and working class students of jazz in state education.

Open University thesis “What is black british jazz?” – this was apparently a well funded thesis.

There needs to be a study of the demographics i.e. proportion of black musicians to population etc.

More entry points for young people

SESSION: More entry points for young people Convener(s): Diana


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Photos were taken of the notes as no one from the group was able to transcribe. If anyone present would like to add a transcription, please email or post in comments.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What is the future – and the value – of the voluntary jazz club? Merged with: How should local jazz clubs judge their success?

SESSION: What is the future – and the value – of the voluntary jazz club? Merged with: How should local jazz clubs judge their success?

Convener(s): Mike Gordon & Brian Allen

Participants: Pete Lyons, John Blandford, Brian Allen, Roan Kearsey-Lonosen, Margaret +, sue Lightaun

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

What's criteria for success? Self evaluation consist wholly of whether financial plan is working out OK. (Chichester).

Developing young muisicians important.

Jazz club more than just music – builds up social base from which people can be drawn into wider variety of styles.

Benefits include encouraging young people from the locality.

Massive amount of voluntary time not recognized nationally (ACE, Arts Ministers …). In a smallish local club can be in excess of a 100 hours a week – equates to 100s of thousands of £s a year nationally. Jazz Services could calculate total hours across the country and publicise.

National network of voluntarily promoted venues is massive and lifeblood of the business nationally and essential route for many young developing musicians.

Without financial support from ACE it may not be possible for clubs to take more risks in programming more adventurous things.

Financial support for opera is massively disproportionate – promoters need to be actively lobbying to redress the injustice.

Request jazz Services organize a national voluntary promoters’ conference.

Is jazz a four-letter word?

SESSION: Is jazz a four-letter word?

Convener(s): Rick Finlay

Participants: Rick Finlay

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I ended up bumble-beeing to issue “What are we worth?” so the following is just my thoughts alone.

I think often about this issue of the word jazz and whether it is serving us well and what it means in our culture.

Jazz as a label is in my view becoming damaging to the jazz community because it is becoming indelibly associated with a particular notion of jazz, rather than the multi various animal it actually is.

The printed press about jazz is too conservative, and that’s what the word jazz means to many.

I find the word jazz more of a straightjacket than a help, and it leads to insularity and conservatism. Either we reclaim the word in a broader sense, or we distance ourselves from it and become “musicians” not “jazz musicians”.

How do we increase the impact of Jazz Services?

SESSION: How do we increase the impact of Jazz Services?

Convener(s): Peter

Participants: Peter, Chris, Chrys, Will

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

A general view that the individual activities of Jazz Services were valuable, but a perception that they lack an overall focus – this could be a communications issue or it could be a real issue.

Should Jazz Services be primarily a service to musicians and promoters etc; or should it represent the industry to the outside world and be a service for them. At the moment it does both.

Does Jazz services try to do too much?

The industry needs an organization that speaks for us to bodies like PRS, British Council etc and that represents jazz and lobbies on our behalf. Should that be Jazz Services? Can anyone else do it?

Jazz Services could enlist support from the industry to make it more effective in these roles.

Should the BBC focus more on Jazz?

SESSION: Should the BBC focus more on Jazz?

Convener(s): PETER IND

Participants: Chris Chijiutami, George Foster, Dorian Ford, Peter ?, Will Rodway, Bev Orton

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

  • France has 6 Jazz radio Jazz stations – where are ours?
  • BBC has cut specialist programmes mainly because of lack of finances. (We won’t mention the huge salaries paid to some celebrities!)
  • Jazz is not ‘establishment’
  • There is a general decline in our culture and Jazz is a part of this.
  • Should we join with other specialist forms of Jazz to present a larger group to the BBC? E.g. Folk But this would dilute the uniqueness of Jazz
  • Jazz FM is online and has improved, but this excludes older jazz aficionados who are not computer literate. The UK culture today is moving towards all online listening/watching – Youtube, Spotify etc.
  • There needs to be balance in music programming but Jazz doesn’t bring in the numbers.
  • Is the BBC guilty of institutional ignorance towards Jazz?
  • The venues for Jazz are not ‘corporate friendly’ - not grand or luxurious enough for entertaining clients, and so good jazz is not being spread.
  • Peter felt that Jazz rubs some people up the wrong way!
  • The aim for the Jazz fraternity is to look outward and not be elitist.
  • We need to expand the interest in Jazz before the BBC will show it.
  • Jazz appreciation can be expanded by snatches of music in adverts, plays etc.
  • BBC Radio 4 is now requesting feedback about programming. We should take part in this online and request more Jazz. (Ken Clarke’s programme last week was excellent – Bev)
  • We want the BBC to WANT to broadcast JAZZ
  • The world around us is changing – the Jazz fraternity is perceived by the BBC as ‘moaning’!
  • Smaller Jazz clubs are just as important to spreading the wonderful music as large events – sometimes the audience collectively is larger.
  • Jazz programmes could try to get sponsorship and this should be mentioned in the televised/radio shows.

How can we increase the audience for jazz?

SESSION: How can we increase the audience for jazz?

Russell Occomore

Russell, Rosie, Charles, Brian, Mao, Val, Peter, Geoff

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Try to get younger people in to venues

Venuses need to break the stereotype – they often appear too stuffy, don’t encourage young people, don’t encourage women.

Lack of imagination of promoters, tend to put on safe bands whoch conform to the stereo types of jazz bands. This leads to audiences made up predominately of older fans.

Try to subsidise ticket prices.

Change the atmosphere of jazz clubs and venues. Clubs are often perceived as informal and fun while concert halls are often seen as stuffy and formal.

Jazz is still perceived as being elitist.

Venues to be more welcoming.

Increase general exposure to jazz through media.

Derby Jazz did a survey of its audiences. Survey shows that 15% of attendees are hardened “core” jazz fans and will always attend gigs. 85% attend other types of music too and are harder to get to commit to jazz. (

Combating the negative images that go along with the word jazz. Jazz personalities should flourish so that we don’t need to describe the music as jazz all the time.

Might be useful to map ticket sales in an area and take a look at price point of ticketing.

Better communications about the music. Improve information and marketing tactics.

Easier to get audiences in London compared to the regions.

Find gaps in the market.

Approach promoting in an holistic manner – its not just the music but the whole experience of the venue as well and how the music is presented.

The music and the musicians need to be shown to be authentic. Can we learn from other disciplines?

JS are about to publish an audience development guide!!

Are UK jazz promoters selling the music short?

SESSION: Are UK jazz promoters selling the music short?

Convener(s): Rick Finlay

Participants: Mike Gordon, Sarah Ellen Hughes, John Blandford, Jack Davies, Jo Laverty, Chrys Chijintoni [sp?]

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Why is success of promotion so variable? Some gigs cancelled due to no audience, others are huge.

Do they promote the right music? Are they neglecting certain areas?

Promoters reluctant to book unknown artists.

Are admission fees too low?

Are promoters ambitious enough?

Is there enough money to allow the music to happen?

Presentation of bands too bland (on venue website for example)

Bands not doing their bit well enough? Providing biogs, photos etc

Are venues upping their game enough? Eg do they have a checklist to make sure they don’t miss anything: tech spec, promotions, photos, social net etc

If gig is run by volunteers, the musos will deal differently. Do venues make it sufficiently known that they are only voluntary run?

Are promoters avoiding risk of unknown artists? This highlights importance of funding/subsidy.

Why are some gigs working well and others not?

You need a team/committee sharing tasks (finance, booking marketing etc`)

Some promoters ask artist to do standards only. This is not a good idea.

Pricing: what does £2 admission say about the gig/ music?

Should you offer concessions rates to encourage accessibility / different audience sectors?

Support acts are a good way of introducing unknown artists to audience cues.

Why do some promoters not talk to the audiences?

Thanking them/ make them welcome

How can we pull the above together to make change?

MU guide to gigging musos/promoters coming next year.

Stuff on Jazz Services site is too wordy and therefore forbidding. Need short sound bite/ lists, and maybe use social web ideas to help the process. Eg: Planzai website has step by step guide to press kits etc (

Networking with other promoters in the area is valuable. Networking could be better. Can Jazz Services set up mechanisms to help networking?

Encourage promoters to understand that running club is about more than the music: need to feel sense of belonging, friendliness.

Is Jazz Music threatened by the fusion of R&B and Hip Hop Music becoming Mainstream?

SESSION: Is Jazz Music threatened by the fusion of R&B and Hip Hop Music becoming Mainstream?


Participants: Chris- Prog Jazz –Scottish Jazz Federation.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Jazz was a big music movement called Swing then; and as big as Pop music today.

The Blues music, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Soul, Rap, Hip Hop then R&B as we know it now, all incorporate Jazz elements because they have the same root: Black struggle endured by the Slaves when they were taken away from Africa.

Jazz music must have an element of rhythmic sessions and improvisation to qualify, and all of the music above have this 2 elements to a different degree; recognizable to the trained ear, but not to the young consuming public who listens to R&B and Hip Hop music.

Jazz Music has not disappeared. It is in all music today although it has been re-branded, or sub-divided a few time to make it more accessible:
-Acid Jazz

-Soul Jazz

-Prog Jazz

-Nu Jazz

-Jazz Funk

-Smooth Jazz

-R&B Soul


Today’s Jazz can be enjoyed through artist such as Jamie Callum, Michael Bubble, and unknown struggling jazz live acts.

Although Jazz is a still a big music genre today, unfortunately, we are not able to identify it as we used to in the Swinging sixties.

On the one hand, it has evolved to become a part of everything, including Music that we cannot necessary identify or put under a specific genre.

On the other, artists who want to stick to making pure/undiluted Jazz Music are finding it difficult to share their passion and be listened to.

I think, young people should be taught that the music they listen to today on the radio, comes in most part from Jazz Music, before it becomes confined to a sad little man/woman reminiscing in the corner of a little seeding café.

Annick Adjo.


Because Jazz used both the people’s emotions and technical side of the brain, it is called intelligent music