Delights ahead for Chichester Jazz Club

A sparkling new programme will take Chichester Jazz Club through the winter months.

Hugh Ashton
Hugh Ashton

Chairman Hugh Ashton is delighted at the line-up that has come together, one which should please existing members and attract new ones to the club’s base at the Pallant Suite.

“We have always managed to interest new members. Older members drop off the other end, but we do manage to get younger blood in. We always keep the season fresh from one season to the next. We try to make it interesting and varied. We do bring back some old favourites, but every season we bring in people that have never played for us before.”

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Opening the season at the club on September 19 is the Zoë Francis Quartet.

Hugh Ashton

“Zoë Francis made her debut as a jazz singer while living in New York and taking the opportunity to absorb and be inspired by all the best influences.

“Now living in Richmond and making London her base, she has made a big impression on all who have heard her at the many London clubs including the Vortex and 606 Club.”

The season includes: October 17 – Jo Fooks Quintet; November 7 – Goff Dubber’s Dixieland Express; November 21 – Andy Panayi/Mark Nightingale Quartet; December 12 – Nikki Iles/Karen Sharp Quartet; January 16 – Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion; February 6 – Alex Hutton Trio; February 20 – Nigel Price Trio with Geoff Simkins; March 06 – Mark Bassey Quintet; March 26 – Amy Roberts/Richard Exall Quintet; April 15 – Steve Waterman Quartet; April 30 – The Condonians; May 15 – Chichester’s Jazz Rookies & Pros; and June 18 – The Jay Phelps Quintet.

“We do ask members what they would like, but that is a little bit double-edged because what people like might not be what the committee like, but you have to try to keep everyone happy. We try to reflect what the members want, but we also feel we have some responsibilty not just to entertain, but also to educating, to get people to listen to performers that they might not necessarily have listened to or thought they would enjoy, performers that would not usually come to Chichester.

“Quite a lot of performers approach us, but we have just published the programme that goes through until next summer, and the one person in the main who looks after our bookings has already presented to the committee the general shape for the season from 2015-16.”

Inevitably, the club has to be mindful of its budget: “We can’t afford the big names, so we do have to set ourselves a budget and keep to it. Our treasurer is an ex-accountant, and he keeps a tight rein on how we manage our finances. We know the cost of the programme and we know how many people we might get, so we can build up an income stream.”

Membership stands at around 150, and generally the events attract 100 people, though a different 100 each time, roughly 50-50 members and guests, the latter always welcome. While Hugh would welcome more members, he has to bear in mind the Pallant Suite limit is 160 people and it wouldn’t be a good idea to have to turn people away.

“But we more than break even. We had some bumpy times two or three years ago, but we have recovered from that. We are a self-sufficient club. Our revenue covers what is going on, and we have even managed to make some improvements to the stage, to the lighting. We have done all that out of our own pocket.”