Top jazz outfit prepare to return to Ilford on 21st birthday tour

PUBLISHED: 12:14 30 January 2016

Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen

Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen

Digby Fairweather

One of Britain’s top jazz ensembles is kicking off its 21st birthday tour in Ilford next week.

Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen will be playing swing, blues, Latin and Dixieland favourites at the Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, on January 31.

The band – nine-time winners of the top small group category at the British Jazz Awards – is making a return to the venue one year on from its 20th birthday tour.

Trumpeter Digby Fairweather said: “The group has always set out to put on a show which is fun and accessible to everyone.

“A lot of younger people don’t know what jazz is, or are just getting to know what it is.

“Our aim is to entertain, to play beautiful music and send the audience away happy.

“We don’t play particularly poppy tunes, but we play a lot of tunes from the Great American Songbook and lots of standards.”

The set ranges from jazz classics like Glenn Miller’s Serenade in Blue, This Could Be the Start of Something and When the Saints Go Marching In to the Beach Boys.

“We don’t really put a limit on what we do, we just aim to do a show with music we like to play.”

The 20th anniversary tour saw the band perform at nine UK jazz festivals, including the prestigious Brecon, Bude and Marlborough events, as well as more than 30 theatres.

Over the past two decades, the band has toured and recorded with blues singer George Melly and The Manfreds’ Paul Jones, performing at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s.

Digby said: “We can usually fill a theatre now, which is quite unusual for a jazz group – apart from Jamie Cullum and Jools Holland.”

As well as his passion for playing, Digby – who began his career as a librarian in Southend-on-Sea before becoming a professional musician – founded the National Jazz Archive in Loughton in 1988.

The archive is opening a new department featuring books, recordings and memorabilia – including Louis Armstrong’s trumpet – on February 6 at the Beecroft Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, where Digby worked until 1977.

“All of life’s a circle,” he added.

The show takes place at 7.30pm on January 31, with tickets costing £17.50. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 020 8553 4466 or visit

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