National Jazz Archive

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The National Jazz Archive holds collections of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music, from the 1920s to the present day. It is based in Loughton Library, Loughton, Essex in England.

The Archive was founded by trumpeter Digby Fairweather in 1988, with support from Essex County Council. The Archive’s vision is to ensure that significant jazz material is safeguarded for future generations of enthusiasts, professionals and researchers.

Patrons of the archive include: Baroness Amos, Liane Carroll, Deirdre Cartwright, Gary Crosby, Paul Jones, Dame Cleo Laine, Sir Michael Parkinson, Courtney Pine, The Rt Hon John Prescott MP, Kate Westbrook and Mike Westbrook. Past patrons and supporters have included Sir John Dankworth CBE, Kenny Ball and George Webb.

The Archive has been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grant is enabling the cataloguing and digitisation of a substantial proportion of the collection, as well as a learning programme for schools and young people.

The National Jazz Archive is a registered charity and relies on support from donations and volunteers.


The National Jazz Archive holds more than 3,000 reference books, specialist periodicals and bulletins. It also tells the story of jazz and blues in the UK through photographs, printed articles, memorabilia, artworks and personal papers.

The archive has built up a collection of around 2,500 books on jazz, blues, popular music and dance. Books date from 1914 through to recent publications on the subject of jazz, making the collection a valuable bibliographic resource. Rarities include two early books on jazz: R.W.S. Mendl’s ‘The Appeal of Jazz’ (1927) and Stanley R. Nelson’s ‘All About Jazz’ (1934). Duplicate books are distributed to various library outreach partners based at institutes of higher education throughout the UK. All books are available for visitors to browse.

The archive holds more than 600 journals dating from 1927 through to the present day. They reflect historical, cultural, social and aesthetic developments in jazz. Although the archive holds an extensive collection of rare British journals, it also holds publications from around the world including important titles from the USA and Europe. These are a vital resource for those interested in knowing more about jazz and related popular music.

The archive also holds a poster collection documenting a wide range of promotional material. These include posters from major and small-scale British jazz festivals and concerts, international jazz events and posters promoting album releases.

Important donations to the archive include unique items such as correspondence, written material and photographs. These belonged to eminent jazz musicians, enthusiasts and professionals working in the music industry. Of particular significance, the archive holds the collections of Mike Westbrook (pianist, composer and arranger), Ian Carr (trumpeter, composer, writer and educator), Charles Fox(author and broadcaster), Ken Colyer (trumpeter and band leader), John Cumming of Serious Music and Johnny Simmen (Swiss jazz historian).

Events and activities

The National Jazz Archive runs a popular talks programme featuring leading musicians and personalities fom the British jazz scene. Past speakers have included Michael Parkinson, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine.

Other events featuring talks and jam sessions have included musicians such as Buddy Greco, Alan Barnes, Paul Jones, John Altman, Roy Williams and Simon Spillett.

In addition to its talks and concerts, the National Jazz Archive has a growing schools and learning programme. It also participates in Heritage Open Days, has a presence at national jazz festivals such as Bude Jazz Festival and local events such as Love Loughton.