Phoenix spotted among the Stratford swans

stratford jazzStratford Jazz at Stratford-Upon-Avon faced shutting up shop for good following the decision of programme Roy Stevens to hang up his hat after many years of sterling work. The alternate Wednesday gigs at No.1 Shakespeare Street were put on hold after an Alan Barnes/Bruce Adams swan song in January. (I reported on that here.)

But what’s this? Is there a Phoenix rising from those ashes beside the Avon? It has been announced that a new programmer has been found in the form of Jay Riley. Here’s his introductory letter to all:

Dear Stratford Jazz enthusiasts

Following talks with Roy Stevens and Mike Heath, I am delighted and honoured to take on the role of Stratford Jazz promoter.

I am in awe of how Roy and the Stratford Jazz team have managed over the last 10 years or so and I would personally like to thank Roy, Mike and the other volunteers for providing such exceptionally high standard jazz in Stratford.

I thought I would briefly let you know a little bit about me as although I’ve attended Stratford Jazz events in the past (right back to circa. 1997 at the White Swan), my work and family life has prevented me from seeing more recent gigs so you may not have a clue who I am!

I live in Redditch but work with many musicians and young people in Stratford and surrounding area. I was a member of Stratford/Birmingham based jive outfit The Dr Teeth Big Band from 2001-2014 (the band retired early last year). We were signed to Big Bear Records and toured the UK extensively as well as 2 Chicago and Midwest tours and many European festivals.

I currently work as a session musician and I am also responsible for several jazz education programmes in schools in Warwickshire and Worcestershire including Stratford’s very own Kind Edward’s Revival Big Band at KES.

I run workshops and summer schools of my own and have recently launched my own online academy and (without trying to plug it too much) I would ask that you sign up at if you play music and are interested in jazz and improvisation.

I am a musician, husband and dad to two boys aged 4 and 3.

I have a love of Jazz but to be honest, it’s actually a love of good music.

After conducting some market research it seems that Roy has done a lot of things ‘right’ and I want to continue that tradition but also move Stratford Jazz forward. My aim will be to provide high quality, straight ahead, swinging jazz to the regular SJ crowd, introduce some new artists/styles, establish educational links and channel the popular world of social media to excite young people with jazz!

I am hugely excited about becoming involved in such a well-regarded establishment and I hope to use Roy as a bit of a mentor to make sure the existing Stratford Jazz audience is looked after. After all, you are the people who make this happen and if you continue to support live jazz then I will work very hard to make sure high quality live jazz comes to Stratford upon Avon!

With kindest regards

Jay Riley

Looks like good news, with possible new events from April. Watch this space or perhaps more importantly watch this space for future developments. And if you can get involved, there is always a need for volunteers to help run these club nights. Full details on that Stratford Jazz site.

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1 reply

  1. That is good news. My trio with Joshua Blackmore and Dave Kane began at Stratford Jazz with Roy in charge, who was always very supportive. More power to them!

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