Cambridge Modern Jazz Celebrating Joan Morrell – and its 40th Birthday

Joan Morrell ( 1938-2011)
David Gower previews Cambridge Modern Jazz’s special day: October 14th at the Hidden Rooms in Jesus Lane, Cambridge, starting 5pm. He writes:

Not many jazz clubs make it to a landmark 40th anniversary so Cambridge Modern Jazz is set to join a very select band when it celebrates that feat – and its founder – this autumn.


Joan Morrell (1938-2011) was born and bred in Huddersfield where she established her first club ‘Le Grenier Blanc’ (up six flights above a builders merchant) while still a teenager. She was motivated by a deep sense of the injustices visited on African American musicians at that time and her desire to promote their work to a wider audience.

Ever a modernist Joan played a major role in developing the early careers of numerous fledgling players who went on to become internationally renowned artists. One such, Iain Ballamy, remembers Joan’s enthusiasm to programme new, experimental, imaginative and sometimes obscure acts. ‘Her guiding principle was to champion, respect and support the music rather than ticket sales’.

Joan’s untimely death in November last year was a tragic loss, but she left a remarkable legacy which the club strives to uphold today.


‘Cambridge Modern Jazz’ was founded in 1972 when Joan moved from London. Like its feisty founder, the club was never comfortable with the status-quo and has inhabited no less than ten venues around Cambridge. These have ranged from pub rooms to restaurants, night clubs and even the idyllic surroundings of Kettle’s Yard one of the country’s leading modern art galleries. The club survived and has gone from strength to strength. Since September 2010 it has been based at Hidden Rooms in Jesus Lane where it continues to thrive in a very supportive atmosphere.


Sunday October 14th sees a unique event to celebrate Joan’s life and 40 years of Cambridge Modern Jazz. The club will take over the whole of Hidden Rooms cocktail bar and club room to present three nationally renowned bands, all with Cambridge and Club connections.It starts at 5pm.

John Turville’s Trio sees John (piano) teamed with Chris Hill (bass) and Ben Reynolds (drums).

– Piano maestro Gareth Williams and ace bassist Dave Green present their salute to the music of Bill Evans

– ‘The Quintet’ will top-off the evening with an extended session including (hopefully) a jam. A stellar line-up sees Art Themen (tenor sax), Jim Mullen (guitar), John Donaldson (piano), Mick Hutton (bass) and Nic France (drums) all on stage together to rock the room to the rafters.


– On October 26th the club welcomes rising saxophone star Trish Clowes with her ‘Tangent’ Quintet as part of their national album launch tour for ‘And in the Night-Time She is There’. Trish’s visit couldn’t be better timed; an ideal opportunity to welcome the new BBC Radio 3 Jazz New Generation Artist for 2012 – 14.

– November 23rd sees a welcome return for Printmakers fronted by international stars Norma Winstone (voice) and Nikki Iles (piano), who performed one of their very first gigs for us in Cambridge.

– The incomparable Liane Carroll rounds off the autumn season on December 14th.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Everyone who knew Joan had a great regard for her principles to foster and maintain the highest standards in creative jazz music. This season is a salute to her and the club she founded, nurtured and loved.

www.cambridgejazz.org  / Tickets for 14th October

Categories: miscellaneous

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