By Duncan Eaton

JAZZ greats who have graced the stage over many decades at Eastleigh’s Concorde Club are to be saluted in Britain’s first centre of jazz.

It was more than 60 years ago that jazz aficionado Cole Mathieson launched The Concorde from the back room of the Bassett pub in Burgess Road, Southampton.

Over the years the club, now based in Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh, has welcomed jazz giants from both sides of the Atlantic.

And that rich musical legacy will now have a pride of place at the UK’S first jazz centre.

Scores of Concorde posters are going on display at the centre which is the brainchild of one of Britain’s top jazz band leaders, Digby Fairweather, who first appeared at The Concorde with the Midnight Follies 40 years ago.

The first centre for jazz culture is based in Digby’s home town of Southend-On-Sea where he was a librarian before he opened a new chapter in his career and became a full time musician.

And the Eastleigh club is very close to his heart.

“Cole has been the champion of jazz and The Concorde is one of the best clubs in the world," he says.

“We are so lucky to be given posters and memorabilia which will celebrate the heritage of the artists who have played at the Concorde.”

The list reads like an A- Z of the jazz world with names like legendary jazz saxophonist Benny Green, American jazz guitarist Herb Ellis, pianist Stan Tracey, who was known as the Grandfather of British Jazz and his son, leading UK drummer and bandleader, Clark Tracey.

There are posters of Concorde headliners Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Chris Barber, known as the 3 Bs, Terry Lightfoot, R&B stars The Manfreds, Curtis Stigers, Georgie Fame, Alan Price, Ben Waters, bandleader and king of swing Ray Gelato, along with soul and jazz songstresses Stacey Kent, Elkie Brooks, Clare Teal and Rosemary Squires.

Digby believes that for far too long jazz has been sidelined and his mission is to put it firmly back on the musical map.

Among stand out exhibitions at The Jazz Centre are Louis Armstrong’s special trumpet, Sir John Dankworth’s first piano and the complete archives of jazz legend Humphrey Lyttelton who played one of his last gigs at The Concorde before he died.

The Jazz Centre has £615,000 worth of projects in the pipeline, which will need funding and involve restoring the cinema/lecture theatre and creating a performance space on the lines of London’s famous 100 club.

As well preserving the music’s rich legacy, Digby wants to keep jazz alive for generations to come.

The centre is hosting a Heritage lottery funded project called How Jazz Has Influenced Modern Culture in the UK. There will jazz workshops and concerts for musicians of all ages.

For more information on the Jazz Centre, visit: