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How to respond to destruction

Natalie Williams
Photo credit: Richard Kaby

How does the London jazz community respond to the wave of rapid, wanton destruction our city has witnessed? By answering the wanton flames of destruction with a quiet, largely unreported, act of creation and renewal.

Yes, by the end of this month a new club, Blue Train at 56 Stamford Street SE1 will have opened. Its aim: to give more young musicians opportunities to play. To the flames of shops being torched, we respond with the bright red mane and sheer charisma and presence of Natalie Williams, who has the first gig. The jazz community is not on holiday in Calgary, Tuscany or Klosters. It is not launching official enquiries or pointing the finger of blame. It is working at the heart of communities to inspire, to make London a place worth living in, a place to enjoy and be proud of, for all of us.

The club had originally been expected to open this week, but has been delayed by two weeks.

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7 replies »

  1. Good luck to any new venue. Long may it survive and prosper.
    To take the comment about how does the London jazz community respond to the overall state of our city. It does so by showing willingness to locate and take risks in how it behaves. For whatever reasons people may give (cheapness, liveliness or….), jazz clubs in London frequently locate to areas where others don't want to go. The Vortex itself started in Stoke Newington in 1987 and moved to Dalston in 2005 – neither were places where many were willing to take such risks at the time. Other examples. The Jazz Cafe started in the then unfashionable Newington Green in the mid 80s; Peter Ind's Bass Clef located in Hoxton Square well over a decade before it was “discovered” by the Young British Artists like Damian Hirst. And so on and so on. Furthermore, the venues show a stubbornness and determination to make the best of these areas.
    The Vortex has had to be closed for the past couple of days, costing us and the musicians hundreds of pounds that we can ill afford. Much as we'd like to have stayed open, we were overtaken by events and had to heed the advice of the local police and Hackney Council. Looters don't respect what the jazz community is trying to give to an area – often an understanding of its breadth and diversity that its own members seem to have forgotten sometimes. When this current maelstrom blows over – and I hope that it's soon – we'll be back doing what we have done for the past 24 years. More determined than ever. Both in the club and in Gillett Square.

  2. So far we've heard of 3 Drummers that have been affected both physically and financially by the riots in London. Colin Wollway had his teaching business smashed up by rioters in Croydon who damaged Rockbottom Music where Colin has his Studio. Ian Palmer was mugged in Tottenham Court Road and had personal items stolen. Karl Brazil had a lot of gear valued in the thousands stolen by looters from his lockup in Croydon. The London Drumming Community has united to rally round and help out these unfortunate guys. And the beat goes on ….
    Further info is available from their respected Facebook pages.

  3. I work near Stamford Street and I had walk down there at lunchtime today to see how Blue Train was shaping up for the end of the month. It didn't seem that much has been done to number 56 at all, it looks like a closed down curry house to me!!

  4. Thanks Babel and Cado for thoughtful / informative posts.

    Gary thanks for taking the trouble to have a snoop at the place. I will refer this to the people involved and get an update.

  5. hi Gary
    we are jsut getting the keys, so please everyone, be patient and it will be up and running after a brief but hopefully effective publicity campaign, but check out the website for a list of all the artists that were booked before the riots began, on http://www.bluetrainjazzandblues.com
    ray (music manager)

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