2000s - A new century
By the Millennium, seven of Britain’s music conservatoires were offering full-time degree courses in jazz: Leeds College of Music (the pioneer, starting its course in 1965), Birmingham Conservatoire, Guildhall School of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Scottish Conservatoire, Royal Welsh College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and Newcastle School of Music.
Many books on jazz in Britain and British jazz were published, reflecting burgeoning scholarly interest. They included Catherine Parsonage’s The Evolution of Jazz in Britain, 1880–1935 (2005), George McKay’s Circular Breathing (2005) and Hilary Moore’s Inside British Jazz (2007). In 2000, Northway Publications, a London-based publishing house directed by Ann Cotterrell and specialising in British jazz subjects, produced their first book – the autobiography of veteran saxophonist Harry Gold. Over the next decade and a half their 24 publications included autobiographies by saxophonists Peter King and Vic Ash, bassist Coleridge Goode and trumpeters John Chilton and Digby Fairweather, biographies of Joe Harriott and Nat Gonella, and revised editions of Jim Godbolt’s A History of Jazz in Britain, 1919–1950 and Ian Carr’s Music Outside.
The Parliamentary Jazz Awards and British Jazz Awards provided welcome recognition for new and established talent, and funding for jazz projects was provided by both the Arts Council of Great Britain and Jazz Services Ltd. After pianist-singer Jamie Cullum made his first TV appearance on the Michael Parkinson show in 2003, he signed first for Candid Records and then a £1m contract for three albums with Universal. His second studio album Twentysomething, released in October 2003, became the No. 1 selling studio album by a jazz artist in the UK. During the decade he was joined by pianist-presenter Jools Holland as a second popular new face for jazz and blues on both radio and TV and leading his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Singer Clare Teal also achieved notable popular success. Her 2004 album Don’t Talk reached No. 1 in the UK jazz chart. Even veteran mainstreamers sometimes broke through in the popular music world. In 2001 Humphrey Lyttelton’s band collaborated with Radiohead on the track ‘Life in a Glass House’ from their Amnesiac album.
Classic FM’s sister station, The Jazz, dedicated to jazz in most styles and broadcasting 24 hours a day, was launched in December 2006 but closed in 2008. The internet-based UK Jazz Radio station was launched in 2010.
Image: Juliet Kelly. Photograph by Brian O’Connor, 2005.