About us

BJazz has been providing live Jazz in Berkhamsted for over 40 years, and was founded by the late Michael Garrick, MBE.

A summary of our history is below.

Our formal aim is to provide for the appreciation and enjoyment of jazz music of all kinds by staging a varied programme of live performances.

We are a not-for-profit organsiation, managed by a Committee, elected at the AGM and who give their time on a voluntary basis. We are bound by a Constitution, which you can see via the drop-down menu.

The Constitution you see in the drop-down menu is here for comment and is to be presented to the 2021 AGM.

The Committee of about nine Members is always in need of new members and support.  However, to support BJazz you do not need to be a member of the Committee:

We welcome Members who can support in any way at our events or help advance publicity.

Please do contact us at info@bjazz.org if you can help us.

History

This history is a slightly updated version of one written by our Founder and President, the late Michael Garrick. We are proud and privileged to have worked with Mike, whose passing was mourned by the world of British jazz. A commemorative concert was held at the Civic Centre in December 2011 and dozens of musicians took part, including Cleo Laine, Nigel Kennedy, Norma Winstone, Julian Joseph, and Mike’s sons Chris, Gabriel, and Matthias.

BJazz began because Roger Watkins (also founder of the Graham Greene Society) moved here to find he was a close neighbour of Michael Garrick whom he’d seen in the 60’s at Bristol University in a poetry and jazz concert with Joe Harriott and Shake Keane.

“Why was there no jazz club here?” he asked. So a first trial run was made at the Court House, Water Lane, featuring the duo of Norma Winstone and Michael Garrick with interval guitar music from Tony Male, also from Berko.

Encouraged by the response, BJazz moved to the Civic Centre in 1982 where acoustics are excellent, so much so that the BBC made a number of outside broadcasts of the Michael Garrick Big Band (www.myspace.com/mikegarrickbigband) from there in the 80’s and 90’s.

By skilfully gauging audience preferences George Franks (for over twenty years secretary and main organiser) built the clientele so that for a long while now numbers have only rarely fallen below a hundred.

The Club is run by an elected committee of about nine to twelve members. There are normally a dozen gigs per year, spread over all months except for July and August. The experience of the Committee members and the standing of BJazz in the music community typically enable it to book a full annual season well in advance.

The first Jazz Festival took place in 2007 to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary – and five years on, we celebrated the 30th anniversary in a similar fashion.

BJazz has also used Centenary Hall, St Peter’s Church, and Berkhamsted School Chapel for Garrick’s jazz-choral works and the Old School for the Royal Academy of Music Big Band. In 2020/21 BJ adapted to Covid constraints by collaboration with Guildford Jazz to stream live concerts from the Boileroom Guildford.

Concerts are however normally held at the Civic Centre. There’s a fine Yamaha grand piano, well maintained and tuned before each concert. There is also an excellent sound system. The room itself was a magistrate’s court, with wooden panels providing the good acoustic. It seems BJ has run its history in court houses! So come along and be our jury!