This Sunday, jazz lovers will convene for an annual musical institution. The Oxfordshire Charity Jazz Concert is an annual celebration of trad jazz which raises thousands of pounds for good causes. The man behind it is clarinet virtuoso Alvin Roy, who tells Tim Hughes how it all began
I suppose It all started in 1995. I had travelled down from London for a day’s fishing at an Oxfordshire lake and while driving home, I suffered a heart attack.
I managed to continue driving and got myself to the John Radcliffe Hospital, and as I got out of my car, I went into cardiac arrest.
The hospital saved my life, and when I returned to London, I decided to organise a charity fishing competition and also a jazz concert at the capital's famous 100 Club, on behalf of the British Heart Foundation.
I moved to Oxfordshire five years later, and when a local jazz trumpeter died in 2010, the family requested donations to the Friends of the John Radcliffe Hospital.
At the time, my band, Reeds Unlimited, were playing a regular Sunday night at the, now defunct, Lord Nuffield Club and I organised a special jazz evening which raised money for the hospital.
The following year, I was approached by a jazz fan whose son had died of Crohn’s disease and he asked me to help him put on a concert at the Exeter Hall in Kidlington to raise money for the charity.
I contacted many of the musicians I knew and hey all readily agreed to take part in the event, which meant that I had several guitar players, pianists, drummers, bass players and front line instrumentalists, all of whom wanted to play on the night.
So I came up with the idea of putting certain musicians together to form a band, giving them a name and letting them jam together.
Jazz is one form of music that can be created by musicians playing together with little or no rehearsal and as they all were very good players, I knew this method would work.
In the end, I ended up with four bands formed from the pool of musicians.
Guitar Summit was one band that started this way and who have since gone on to play many gigs in Oxfordshire.
After the concert, all the musicians told me how much they’d enjoyed the evening and as they’d all given their services for free, this was extremely gratifying and heart warming. Their enthusiasm persuaded me to agree to arrange another charity concert at the same venue the following year and as I had become chairman of the Oxfordshire Jazz Federation, I continued to organise the subsequent concerts through their auspices.
Some of the charities to benefit from this annual event are the British Heart Foundation, the Sobell Centre, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.
This year’s concert, on Sunday, is the seventh to be held and is on behalf of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The doors open to the public at 7pm with the concert starting at 7.30 pm.
Tickets on the door are £8, which is ridiculously cheap considering the quality and high standard of the musicians who are taking part.
This year we’re featuring Big Colors, who are Oxfordshire’s premier big band, comprising the best players in the county and led by David Shiers.
The second band appearing are the Soprano Summit Legacy Band which has been put together by me as a tribute to the famous American band and who’ll also be appearing in concert on March 17 at the Cornerstone arts centre in Didcot.
I’m grateful to David Carugo from the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University, and his students, who each year, have provided the lighting and sound for all the concerts – and I trust that this year’s event will be as successful as the previous ones.
I hope and expect a full house on the night, which has a two-fold effect: more money for the chosen charity and an appreciative audience for the musicians who, as they are all playing for nothing, deserve some accolade for their performance.
The 7th Annual Grand Charity Jazz Concert takes place at Exeter Hall, 64 Oxford Road, Kidlington, on Sunday, March 5, at 7.30pm. Tickets £8 on the door