Our Friday columnist JACK DAVIES writes about the London Jazz Meetip Group
Warm appreciation is deserved for the for The London Jazz Meetup Group. It is making a real contribution to the London scene. This intrepid group of jazz fans have proved that British jazz is not an ivory tower, but that we are a generous and welcoming community, of which the Meetup group already feels like an established part.
Founded in 2006 by Rob Mallows the group is a collection of people drawn together by the desire to discover more about the music, and to experience concerts in the company of like-minded friends, and, as the name suggests, to meet up. Rather than doing things the old London way, and arranging to meet people under the clock at Waterloo Station (above), they use the technology of the internet to facilitate meetups at jazz gigs.
The now group has over 1,200 members on meetup.com, as well as a range of sponsors and supporters. The group is free to join (they ask that members give £2 occasionally if they can to support the online presence), and the website features mini-reviews of previous meet-ups and listings of the upcoming ones.
Rob Mallows himself wrote the following on a comment on my last comment column for LondonJazz:
“I setup the London Jazz Meetup partly because I was in the position of being new to jazz, but wanting to find out more and needing to find other people to share that experience with. While I’m still no expert, I’ve been able to chat with musicians and fans and get to hear a whole range of jazz, and find out what I like.”
The group seem to be able to see through PR and marketing budgets and get to the core of some of the great things happening on the London scene.
They’re not lacking for imagination and good ideas either. I’ve spotted them cunningly arriving early to take advantage of the (few)good seats at the Con Cellar Bar, as well as joining the audience at the Royal Academy’s free ensemble series, where students play the music of major artists they have been recently coached by.
I would urge members to also check out the things happening at The Oxford, The North London Tavern, The Salisbury and Charlie Wright’s – other venues which don’t have a huge amount of marketing reach, but each with fantastic programmes of live jazz.
The group is in good health, with new members joining their Facebook group and their Meetup.com pages all the time.
Jack: very kind words! I must of course reply in return that London Jazz – and Sebastian – have been very helpful to the London Jazz Meetup in providing us with insight and news about the thriving London Jazz Scene.
As Jack points out, jazz is a community of musicians and fans. The fans should not be underestimated and not just treated as pure consumers. Many are passionate to support the music and are curious. They give up time to travel long distances to concerts, they will often take risks to hear musicians unknown to them, and certainly not be frightened of being taken out of their comfort zones. They want the music to survive. Many of those are the reasons behind the Vortex having such a huge group of volunteers.
They are also knowledgeable – in the Christmas quiz at the Vortex, the team of fans trounced all comers, including teams from Jazzwise and of musicians.
Ignore them at your peril!