Fleece Jazz at Stoke by Nayland Hotel©

Some History of Fleece Jazz

Winning the 2009 best venue award
Michael and Carole Burgess went to the parliament buildings on Wednesday 20 May 2009 to collect the 2009 Parliamentary Jazz Award for best venue. They, along with David Gasson (no third ticket available) were founding members of Fleece Jazz.

The History of Jazz at the Fleece.

Arguably the best modern jazz venue, not just in East Anglia but anywhere outside London, Jazz at the Fleece is a known and respected name in the jazz world, presenting not only the very best British artists but also many touring Americans and Europeans. We are very proud and happy to have won The All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (the Jazz Oscars) "Venue of the Year" award for 2009. We sincerely hope to continue doing what we love to do for many years to come.

Jazz at the Fleece was started in February 1993 when it took over a gig that had been booked to appear at a pub that suddenly stopped promoting jazz after a change of landlord.

The club's original venue was situated in the function room of The Fleece, a beautiful timbered pub in an historic medieval village deep into rural Suffolk. We stayed there for fifteen brilliant years until sadly we had to leave. Our next home, for just fifteen months this time, was The Kersey Mill, a few miles up the road where we had a very nice space but again unfortunately we found we had to vacate. In 2009 we re-located to what we sincerely hope will be our home for many years to come.

The Stoke by Nayland Club is in a beautiful setting. We have been made very welcome and have been provided with a space so perfect that it could have been built just for us.

Jazz at the Fleece is independent, non profit making and run voluntarily by committee.

From March 1993 there has been jazz every Friday night except when Christmas or New Year’s eve had the nerve to coincide.

There were 5 original committee members who bravely got together to put on that February gig and this became 6 (me!) before the 2nd gig in March and shortly after 7 when Carole was invited to join. There have been changes of personnel over the years and just 3 out the 7 remain. Our original booker pulled out after 5 years and Liz and Nick Rabett, who both left us early in 2011, did the job for the next 12. Nick Rabett also took all the brilliant photographs you see displayed. David Gasson is our treasurer and has been since day one (even through his spell as Chairman!) he also deals with ticket reservations, two very important jobs he does brilliantly. Dave Lyons runs the sound desk which he designed and built and is a thing of beauty – the desk that is, and he also runs the website. John Anderson deals with publicity and promotion and anything else that comes his way. Carole Burgess, a jazz vocalist in her own right, operates the door, takes your raffle ticket cash with a dazzling smile and is the best looking bouncer in the biz! Jerry England has just joined and is our number 2 soundman. He is a very welcome addition indeed. That just leaves me, Michael, proud to be the current Chairman, I am the MC, the deputy treasurer, and since February 2011, the booker and now, thankfully demoted, number 3 soundman!

The club has an excellent rep with all the musicians who appear and many have said that it is their favourite venue. This is due not only to the fact that we treat them well but also because our audience actually listen. We do organise coffee and sandwiches at the end of every gig and this may be another factor!

We do not have the space to list all the wonderful musicians we have had the pleasure of presenting over the years but I can't resist a bit of name dropping so here are a few: Stan Tracey, Peter King, Andy Shepherd, John Dankworth, Martin Taylor, Dave Newton, Alan Barnes, Ian Shaw, Claire Martin, Bobby Wellins, Jim Mullen, John Etheridge, Martin Drew, Tina May, Barbara Thompson, Mick Hanson, Ken Peplowski, Scott Hamilton, Gordon Beck, Stacey Kent, Elaine Delmar, Steve Melling, Dave Green, Mornington Lockett, Mari Wilson, Guy Barker, Norma Winstone, Annie Whitehead, Winston Clifford, Michael Garrick, Jacqui Dankworth, David Rees-Williams, Steve Brown, Sarah Jane Morris,Jamie Cullum, Barb Jungr, and Kyle Eastwood and some artists the jazz world has now said goodbye to, among them are the ever popular and much loved Spike Robinson, USA trumpeter, Bill Berry, the wonderful Marion Montgomery who made just one very memorable Fleece appearance, the great bassist Lennie Bush and very recently, another Fleece favourite, Pat Crumley, Lennie Bush, Pat Crumley and in 2011 another Fleece favourite, Martin Drew.

There are countless others and we will get them all in when the full version of this brief history is published.

On April 28th 2012 we will present our 1000th gig and we are thrilled to have a true jazz superstar to help us celebrate, the wonderful Claire Martin.
Here’s to the next 1000!

Michael Burgess, 12/03/2012