“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…” Stratford-upon-Avon’s most famous son wrote those words in Hamlet, but whether dreams of future jazz gigs may come to be a reality following the predicted and imminent death of Stratford Jazz on Wednesday is another matter.
It seems no one can be found to fill the shoes of Stratford Jazz’s programme organiser Roy Stevens who is retiring from the role. Here is some of what you need to know from Mike Heath’s recent press release:
After 30 years and more than 1,300 jazz performances, Stratford Jazz will cease after January. Stratford Jazz started at the White Swan in 1986 before moving to the current venue at No.1, Shakespeare Street in 2009. Jazz programme organiser Roy Stevens is hanging up his band-booking hat in January thus making the ‘New Year Concert’ on January 7th possibly the last ever gig for Stratford Jazz. Roy and other volunteers have searched for a replacement but without success, so it looks like the end of an era for this widely known and much loved jazz club at its excellent venue at No.1, Shakespeare Street, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Over the years Stratford Jazz has hosted a galaxy of national and international jazz stars as well as encouraging many of the enormously talented musicians in the Midlands. Ace guitarist Phil Robson described Stratford Jazz as “A club with a great atmosphere and a venue with superb acoustics” and drummer Neil Bullock called the club “Stratford’s own Ronnie Scott’s”.
In 2006 Roy agreed to take over the running of Stratford Jazz for a period of one year and believes it is now time to hand-over the reins. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my involvement with Stratford Jazz. Dealing with such marvellous musicians coupled with enthusiastic fans has been a rewarding experience. If there is a replacement out there ready to take over nobody would be more delighted than me – Stratford Jazz should continue to be a vital part of Stratford’s arts culture,” he said.
Of course running a regular jazz club has never been easy, and finding someone to programme the gigs is only a part of it. The more difficult conundrum is finding the money to pay the bands. But that is a bigger discussion for another time.
The grand finale, a New Year Special concert, is on Wednesday and will feature saxophonist Alan Barnes and trumpeter Bruce Adams fronting the Tom Hill Trio. Roy Stevens says: “We could not choose a better finale as this line-up has proved to be a complete sell-out over the years.” This gig too is likely to be a sell-out, and it would be comforting to think that there might be one person in that audience who will volunteer to take on the role Roy has performed for the last eight years. We can but dream…
- Full details of Wednesday’s Stratford Jazz gig are here and it’s also included in thejazzbreakfast monthly diary along with loads of other Midland jazz gigs here.