|Chris de Saram|
Wakefield Jazz and Norvaljazz have announced this morning the sad news that Chris de Saram died on Tuesday 21 August. With typical thoroughness, Chris had asked that his death should be announced once the date and time of the funeral could also be communicated at the same time.
Chris ran Wakefield Jazz from 2004 onwards. He gave huge energy to running and filling the club, which has become a cornerstone of the touring circuit. As the announcement (link below) which also sketches in his biography states: “He leaves a big hole in the jazz world which will be profoundly difficult to fill.” Chris was also Chair of Norvoljazz.
The reports on the club’s Tripadvisor page are a testimony to what Chris achieved. There is a quote from Claire Martin: “Wakefield Jazz is one of the most important clubs in the UK with an enthusiasm & vibe that is second to none.” There are numerous other plaudits. Julian Joseph has written: “Wakefield Jazz is one of the great arteries that enables the very bloodstream of the UK’s finest jazz talent to thrive and flow in its natural habitat.”
It was when researching a feature for BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Line-Up about pockets in the UK that have produced more than their share of jazz talent that I got to grips with the wider and lasting significance of the work of Alec Sykes and Chris de Saram (the relevant section begins at [07:00]). They put young musicians into support slots, familiarising teenagers with the professional jazz world. Musicians from Wakefield who have made their mark on the jazz scene include Reuben Fowler, Pete Horsfall, Matt Robinson and Tom McCredie.
As Beverley Beirne has said in a tribute on Facebook today:
“What a gap he leaves. It was an absolute honour to have known him and to be guided and encouraged by him. He’ll be hugely missed by so many.”
Nigel Price writes:
“Some jazz clubs seem like they’re unshakeable. Like they’re institutions that are always going to be there, come what may. We take them for granted. These places only exist through the hard work and dedication of good, kind and professional people. Chris De Saram was indeed one of those special people and worked tirelessly to keep our great heritage of UK jazz alive, both at the club and elsewhere. Goodbye, Chris.”
LINK: Announcement from Wakefield Jazz and Funeral Details