Jazz at The 100 Club Faces Sad Demise

The Sussex Jazz Kings

Back in August The Sussex Jazz Kings gave their last performance at London’s 100 Club in Oxford Street, once upon a time the thriving mecca of Jazz.

For years Tony and Kay Leppard have loyally staged live jazz at Thursday lunchtime sessions. But with falling attendances and increasing costs, simply put, the pressures are now becoming too great. Besides which they are heavily involved in promoting jazz closer to home at The Winning Post in Twickenham.

Len Baldwin

Laurence Cumming sent me photos of The Sussex Kings 100 Club gig, so with only a few opportunities left this year to catch other great bands in Oxford Street, this is the first of my final Jazz&Jazz posts on the Thursday lunchtime line ups.

I have asked Kay to let me know the bands playing there between now and the final event in December and will include details in my next post due shortly, bemoaning this great loss to the jazz world.

The End of The Jazz Age?
John Petters recently commented on my Facebook Jazzers Group: “Peter, I don’t see a way to reverse this. We had about 5 percent of people who booked to come to Bracklesham last week who died. In effect the loss was greater because their partners then dropped out as well. One regular suffered a heart attack, one lady in a group of three needed care, so we lost all three. We are at the end of the jazz age which effectively started in 1953.”

Dave Stradwick (Leader)

There is a stark and growing dichotomy between older and younger jazz fans, because, yes, as I’ve demonstrated throughout Jazz&Jazz and on Jazzers, younger fans are returning to jazz in increasing numbers and younger bands are flourishing. The dichotomy results from the “oldies” sitting back and enjoying their favourite “oldie” bands and musicians in sedentary fashion whilst the younger generation of fans echo our pasts and the thriving, dynamic jazz of the 1950s and 60s when The 100 Club was top dollar.

New Beginnings
But why allow this dichotomy to continue? If older fans love jazz so much why miss out? Why not get along to join in with the younger fans at their venues? And in turn, why not encourage and welcome the younger bands to play at and liven up our staid old clubs? That would be far better than sitting back and mulling over the past.

We are not at the end of the jazz age. There are new beginnings. Jazz lives on and one of my key aims as editor and moderator of Jazz&Jazz along with my Facebook Jazzers Group is to annul the dichotomy and unify jazz fans, musicians and bands of all ages.

So watch this space.

Phil Durell

Bernard Strutter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Laurence Cumming 

Peter Clancy

John Hall

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Comments

  1. Syd says:

    I’m afraid that the writing has been on the wall for a long time and there are several different reasons for it. Even 20 years ago Monty Sunshine used to look through the hole in the tabs before going on stage and say “there’s a lot of snow out there” referring of course to the amount of grey / white hair in the audiences. The older musicians are reaching the age when they either pack it in or pass away, so many in this last year or so, and of course the audiences are going the same way. Other reasons include elderly people not wanting to venture out after dark, the drink driving laws and no smoking venues haven’t helped and the current financial situation has taken its toll. The lunchtime 100 Club sessions was a great idea but as the article says the numbers attending have dwindled and transport costs / congestion charge etc. are an obstacle. I live in Gillingham in Kent and a return ticket is £23.00 to Oxford Circus off peak for a 1 hour journey by train and the Oxo + the admission fee to the club and a couple of pints and I won’t get much change from £40.

    The other point about getting the youngsters in is important and the older fans among us must try to remember the heyday of trad when they were noisy, brash and wanted to dance the night away and were probably a pain in the arse to the older people around in that time. Young people today aren’t a lot different to what we were, they are just young with a lot more choice about where to spend their money and if Jazz is going to last we’re gonna need them to carry it forward. There really are so many great kids out there playing and they need supporting or they’ll move on to something else. I did a gig years ago, I think in Chipping Norton, with Terry Lightfoot’s band and a lot of young people came into the theatre as first time jazzers. They really enjoyed it and a few of them got up in the aisle and danced to a couple of tunes. The reaction from the rest of the audience was so negative towards them that the youngsters never returned for the second half which was a pity as they were only dancing in the side aisle and not obstructing the view.
    If we can find a solution and bottle it up we’d make a fortune, may I suggest that the festival organisers try to get some form of sponsorship, which I believe the 100 club did with the converse shoe company to stop the club from closing, to help fund the festivals and move a little bit sideways to facilitate the younger bands and their followers … just a thought.

    • Peter Butler says:

      Very astute observations, Syd. I’ll cross reference them to Jazzers. I’ll be exploring ways to bring all such thoughts together, analyse them and strive for a way forward. I’m hoping The Brothers will be open to my observations and if I can come up with a feasible project (I’ve begun sounding one out), back it! Finances? Always the big bug bear but a truly off the top of my head thought – there’s such a thing as Lottery Funding! Who dares, wins!

  2. Gerry Travers says:

    I was once a regular attendee of the 100 club and I am very sad over it’s reported problems. I can recall reading of the huge business rates the club owners had to pay-enough to sink any business let alone the famous cellar!
    I wish it well in the future as it has been a famous venue for so very long.

  3. Geoff Inman says:

    I was clearing out some old files from my wardrobe, and came across my 21st Birthday Card signed by everyone at the party, including ‘The New Magnolia Jazz Band’. The autographs that I can make out are Phil Durrell, George Bennett (drummer), Eddie Blaspfeld, Tony Dorrington ( or Donnington). The party was held at ‘Parkshot’ Richmond on 10th August 1967. Hope the band are still doing gigs. I remember how brilliantly you all played to make it a night to remember.

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