NEWS: Jazz at The Cavern in Farncombe, Surrey Celebrates Its Third Birthday

The Cavern in Farncombe, Surrey

Marianne Windham (Promoter of Guildford Jazz, and Fleet Jazz) writes:

Three years ago I walked into a room with a small stage, a vaulted ceiling, a PA system, stage lighting, a bar, and a landlord who wanted to put on some jazz, and I knew I’d found the perfect place. Three months later, with some tables, chairs, candles, an enthusiastic audience, some exceptional musicians, and a flurry of hard work, the Jazz @ The Cavern club was born.

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It’s an unlikely venue in many ways: despite its name, the function room lies above a pub between the historic towns of Guildford and Godalming in Surrey. But the club has quietly flourished, and since our first gig with Mark Nightingale in March 2011, over 70 musicians have created a jazz haven that has been enjoyed by nearly 2000 people and which has helped put Guildford onto the UK jazz circuit map.

Bobby Wellins and Marianne Windham. Photo credit: Andrew Cleyndert

Our guests have included many of the great names in British Jazz, and many of them have given the club very kind feedback. Dave Newton’s words, in particular, are etched on my mind: “Keep it up and you’re going to become an institution”. I hope he meant it in a good way.

There have been some memorable personal highlights this last year – an unforgettable gig in the spring from Guildford’s own Iain Ballamy, Martin France and Gareth Williams, the summer success of our first “Jazz Showcase” event for students, Alan Barnes and Bruce Adams playing a charity gig in the autumn to a full house in Guildford’s beautiful and historic Guildhall, the enthusiasm of both tutors and students at the pre-gig workshops throughout the year, and most recently the utterly joyous atmosphere at the Latin Jazz Night in December with Dave O’Higgins and Gareth Lockrane.

It seems remarkable that this year will already see our third anniversary of the club, and we’re celebrating with a whole season of performances paying tribute to the music of famous jazz composers. The first is on January 15th when Tony Kofi pays his dues to the genius of Thelonious Monk, followed in February by a tribute to Wayne Shorter from Tim Whitehead, and for our anniversary gig in March, Steve Waterman will be celebrating the music of Benny Golson.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, of course, and I’d like to pay my own tribute to the people who have made this work. Setting up a club from scratch was rather daunting, and running a jazz club is not the easiest undertaking. But people are what make it work. I am hugely indebted to all the musicians who have given of their time and talents with such generosity. Also to the staff at the Freeholders pub, especially the new landlords Dave and Yvette who have embraced the jazz nights with such enthusiasm, the staff at the Electric Theatre, the friends who have helped, especially to Cheryl King, Hannah Green and the Guildford Jazz committee. And of course to the people who come back to the club month on month. You are all what keep it going, thank you.

More information on the Cavern and our other venue, the Jazz Cafe at the Electric Theatre in the centre of Guildford, which this month starts its second year with guest Laura Jurd HERE  (mention London Jazz News when you book tickets for the Cavern for entry into a free prize draw).

Pre-gig workshops from guests at the Cavern are open to all instrumentalists and this season will be based on the music of the composer of the month.

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