For news about upcoming meetings see the Events page.

Chairman's Newsletter

December 2021 MEETING:

Well, friends, that’s it for another year! On Tuesday night we happily celebrated with no lack of festive cheer our last ding-dong of 2021, with our annual members' Christmas bash.The never-stuffy AGM heard accounts from our latest Committee contributors, all reporting positively about achievements and future hopes and aspirations:

Secretary Linda Plant described her enthusiasm to bring new developments to her role, recognising that Bob Wright’s established achievements and responsibilities would be an immense task to replace, but I know that we’d all agree that she has risen to the challenge most ably, and we welcome her innovative new monthly feature, Secretary’s Choice, that provides fresh, lively jazz selections based on her musical knowledge, experience, insights and enthusiasm.

Media-Co-ordinator David Wakelin told us of the progress that he has made by continuously updating and developing the LJAS website https://www.letchworthjazz.org.uk/ to include all our Society doings, news of local and national jazz events, and contemporary in memoriam pieces of jazz figures. He welcomes contributions of all jazz news of interest. David’s role here has been invaluable in promoting and publicising our Society, and most welcome. He is now developing a system whereby – once we have created an practicable index – members might be able to order LJAS Library items from a navigable but comprehensive list.

Keith Simpkins as Assistant Chairman has ensured that we not only enjoy the regular provision and setting-up of the CD player, but that – following its frustratingly intermittent performance in earlier sessions – it now works perfectly following his analysis and repair of electrical faults. Keith kindly collects Raffle prizes and obtains and returns some Library items from Bob’s extensive stock.

As Chairman, I summarised our strange year of interrupted operation, where, from

Pee Wee Ellis , who has died aged 80, was a saxophonist and composer who worked across various musical genres ranging from jazz and R&B to rock and soul; he arranged many of James Brown’s most vibrant numbers including Cold Sweat, which is said to be the first funk track, did a long tour of duty with Van Morrison and in later years teamed up with the Cream drummer Ginger Baker.

Trombonist, broadcaster, writer and jazz historian, Mike Pointon last Tuesday at the age of 80. He was a mainstay of many jazz festivals since 1995 and toured Northern Ireland with Wild Bill Davison and Art Hodes..He recently featured on the Now you has Jazz on Sound of Spitfire  where, together with John Petters he interviewed the late Colin Bowden, whom we lost on 1st August. Mike was too ill to get to his funeral. The two had been friends for decades.

George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz and folk festivals has died at the age of 95.
He began his career as a jazz pianist, then opened a jazz club in Boston in 1950. With backing from some rich jazz fans, he launched the 'First Annual American Jazz Festival' in 1954, later known as the Newport Jazz Festival, featuring many famouus jazz names including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan and Lester Young, in the first year alone.
He went on to promote, help out, or take over many jazz and folk festivals, and all festivals including Woodstock and UK festivals such as Knebworth benefited, directly or indirectly, from his pioneering work in the field.