Fringe Box



Month Of Events As Guildford Jazz Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Published on: 13 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 13 Feb, 2016

Guildford Jazz is promising a month of exciting events, from concerts to a young musicians’ workshop, celebrating five years of attracting world-class musicians to the town.

Virtuoso saxophonist Alan Barnes.

Virtuoso saxophonist Alan Barnes.

The fun on Wednesday, March 9, with its anniversary party. It features virtuoso saxophonist Alan Barnes, one of Britain’s most well-loved musicians.

The celebrations continue on Friday, March 18, with the Tina May Quartet at the Electric Theatre – part of the Guildford Spring Music Festival – and a workshop for young people from pianist and composer Nikki Iles.

The final event, at the Electric Theatre on Tuesday, March 29, is an intimate Jazz Cafe evening with award-winning tenor saxophonist Karen Sharp.

The month-long programme is a fitting celebration for a club known to locals as the ‘Ronnie Scott’s of Surrey’.

Since its re-formation in 2011 by local double bass player Marianne Windham – who gave up her job as an IT consultant to pursue her passion – the club has welcomed nearly 6,000 jazz fans and 400 musicians, and developed a national reputation as a regional centre for jazz.

This July, the club is holding the second Guildford Jazz Festival at Wood Street Village, in aid of Disability Challengers. This follows the success of last year’s inaugural event, which featured an afternoon of music from local young musicians, and the headline act of UK jazz veteran Digby Fairweather.

It’s a long way from the club’s beginnings, in the upstairs room of a pub in Farncombe; but the ethos is the same, says Marianne. “From the start we aimed to create an intimate and welcoming environment,” she says, “with music from some of the best jazz artists in the country.”

Tina May of the Tina May Quartet will be performing at the Electric Theatre.

Tina May of the Tina May Quartet will be performing at the Electric Theatre.

This approach attracted an enthusiastic audience, and in 2014 Guildford Jazz moved to its current home, the Pavilion at the Guildford Rugby Club.

Guests have included world-class players such Mark Nightingale, Dave O’Higgins, Julian Arguelles, Iain Ballamy, John Etheridge, Mark Lockheart, Bobby Wellins, Stan Sulzmann and many more.

At the end of 2012, Guildford Jazz expanded into the Electric Theatre, where the monthly Jazz Café evenings have become a popular feature of the theatre’s programme.

The club is also committed to furthering jazz education locally. “By providing workshops and performance opportunities for younger jazz students and local jazz musicians,” says Marianne, “we aim to encourage people of all ages to be inspired to achieve more through music.”

The club runs a monthly jam session for local musicians to play together and has recently started working with local schools to run workshops with visiting jazz musicians, many of whom teach at the national Music Conservatoires.

Marianne is the driving force behind the club. And now she has her eye on a further prize: the annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

Award-winning tenor saxophonist, will perform at the intimate Jazz Cafe at the Electric Theatre.

Award-winning tenor saxophonist, will perform at the intimate Jazz Cafe at the Electric Theatre.

Nominations for Jazz Venue of the Year are open until February 18.  Marianne says: “The club wouldn’t exist without our supporters, behind the scenes and in the audience. A nomination in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards would be a fantastic way to recognise that team effort.”

More information on future jazz events and workshops, as well as enquiries about music for private events, are available from the Guildford Jazz website at or by emailing

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