Saturday 7 October 2017 saw the official opening of the National Jazz Centre at the Beecroft Gallery in Southend. The Centre houses an impressive collection of important jazz memorabilia including Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, John Dankworth’s first piano and the complete Humphrey Lyttleton archive.
It has a programme of screenings of jazz films and other events.
It also has a display which includes Jimmy Skidmore’s tenor saxophone which Alan donated to the Centre.
During the opening celebrations, Alan was presented with a silver salver recognising his 60 years in jazz. At the presentation founder of the Centre Digby Fairweather praised Alan for his contribution to jazz and his generosity to the National Jazz Centre. Alan replied, “I’ve given six decades of my life to this art-form and I appreciate its full celebration here in words and deeds”.
He then played a set to the delight of the crowds attending this significant event. Alan was especially pleased to be in the company of the next generation of jazz musicians as members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra followed his performance. The Centre will maintain close links with the orchestra to develop jazz in the future as well as displaying its past.
[Photographs courtesy Graham Mullett]