Jazz and joy


Mike Rose - There are two words that have figured very large in my life and they both begin with the letter ”J“. Although they might not necessarily have an obvious connection, they are to me totally intertwined and indivisible. The two words are Jazz and Joy.

The two “J’s” connection began when I was aged around five or six and had access to my elder brother’s collection of 1940s 78 rpm records.

For hours I would listen to Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Woody Herman and all the ‘jazz based’ swing bands. I didn’t know then what I was listening to. I just knew that the recordings generated so much joy and that I needed it more and more.

Fortunately, my brother recognised this and over the next few years I got to hear Louis, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke and the many musicians who were the early creators of the music I’d come to love. I searched second-hand record stores, jumble sales, charity shops -- anywhere I might find any examples of my heroes’ recordings.

Eventually, through connections with my music school, I found myself working in a music store in Shaftesbury Avenue W.1 about 200 yards from Ronnie Scott’s ‘Old Place’.

Suddenly I was meeting and socialising with the musicians who were responsible for creating British modern jazz during the 1950s and 1960s. A step-change from the jazz I had listened up to that time but one that I happily and joyfully embraced.   

 In 2010 I retired having spent many years in retail and mail order businesses and finally, having worked in later years with charities, I was looking for an opportunity to put my experience to good and productive use in support of a charity.

I was aware of the National Jazz Archive from its inception but had never visited or contacted it. I made a call and arranged a chat with Graham Langley, which led to being invited to join the Archive as a volunteer.

So, when I’m asked why I volunteer my time and effort to the National Jazz Archive my answer is simple. It’s because helping to sustain the heritage of jazz, which has been a major part of my life over the past decades, is a kind of ‘pay-back’ for all the joy the music has generated - the combination of my two “J’s“– Jazz and Joy. 


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