Moray Jazz Club History
The Club as we now know it had its origins in a group of local musicians who played on a regular basis at the Oakwood Hotel in the eighties. Later a similar group moved to the Tennant Arms Lhanbryde where jazz sessions were organised. These early groups comprised such musicians as Dave Matheson (drums), John Watson (bass), Colin Henderson (saxophones), Mario Jannetta (keyboard) and others.
It was the phase after this that led directly to the formation of the Club. A group of musicians gathered each week at Clouseau’s Wine Bar in Elgin from 1991-1994. An emphasis was placed on bebop but it’s repertoire drew on standards from the Great American Songbook. Original members of this group were Dave Matheson, John Watson, Jon Hall, Bill Jannetta (rhythm section) and Glenn Munro, & Colin Henderson (front line) When Clouseau’s management changed, the band moved to the Braelossie Hotel. Shortly after it was decided that a Jazz Club should be formed. Band members agreed to this at a meeting on Thursday April 3rd 1997. The aim of the club was simple – to promote and support jazz locally by organising weekly jazz sessions, organising concerts, and adopting an educational role. It was during this period that Jazz Festivals took place but high costs obliged the club to adopt a more prudent approach. There followed instead individual concerts with workshops presented in local schools.
The club moved from the Braelossie to the Eight acres Hotel in 1998. The policy remained the same: a core of local musicians was regularly supplemented by guests such as Alex Sutherland, Pat Strachan, Roy Stevenson, Dave Roberts and Bryan Keddie. The jazz nights were an occasion for all to support and enjoy live jazz music. A small admission charge was introduced. That and a successful raffle, with of course generous support from the management, ensured that the club remained self-financing and viable. It was during this spell that a big band was formed to provide concerts on an occasional basis.
In 2008 the club took the opportunity to move to the Red Shoes Theatre. This was an ideal venue rich in associations of years past when it used to be the Two Red Shoes during an era of dances featuring Alex Sutherland’s regular band. It offered good acoustics, good atmosphere and good catering facilities. At this time it became possible to programme Thursday night sessions thanks to the setting up of a website on which could appear all the various bands and personnel for the following weeks. The unexpected closure of the Red Shoes theatre brought this brief, but fruitful, stay to an end and the club entered into a period of uncertainty.
A move was made to an unlikely venue – Joanna’s Night Club. It might have deterred some as the image was in direct contrast to all previous venues. However, Joanna’s and another short-lived venue – the Elgin Museum – both served to provide continuity for the club. Without this the club might well have come to an end.
Fortunately the Club at last found somewhere which had the ingredients necessary to allow everyone to move with a degree of hope and optimism. In 2011 the Club transferred to our present venue at the Elgin City Football Club where everyone seems to have settled in well. From a musician’s point of view the acoustics are very good. The room used is not too large or too small and can accommodate an audience comfortably with all facilities available for a great night out. Its size also lends itself to a good atmosphere which suits the music. Already several big band nights have been organised, as well as a continued programme of weekly live jazz & blues music on a Thursday night involving live bands from the area and further afield such as London, Perth, Fife, Inverness and Aberdeen. With a steady turnout on Thursdays and continued enjoyable experiences all-round the Club looks forward to continued success in the future.
Moray Jazz Club meets on Thursday evening at Elgin City Football Club Social Club, Borough Briggs Road, Elgin IV30 1AP. Doors are open at 7.30p.m. and there is live music between 8p.m. and 10.30p.m. Refreshments are available, and we have a fully Licensed Bar.
Visitors & new members to the Jazz Club are made very welcome.
Moray Jazz Club is a registered charity, No. SC028421