Southern Syncopated Orchestra

100 years of jazz

The research project, 100 Years of Jazz in Britain, explores the arrival of jazz music in Britain and its impact on the public, audiences and musicians. The project is based on the research of Professor Catherine Tackley, noted jazz scholar and Head of the Department of Music.

2019 marks the centenary of the arrival of two groups that brought jazz to public attention in Britain: the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and the Southern Syncopated Orchestra (image above). In 1919, both of these bands landed in Liverpool.

Original Dixieland Jazz Band

Original Dixieland Jazz Band

“This period of British jazz and popular music history is relatively under appreciated”, explained Professor Tackley. “Jazz is currently experiencing a resurgence in the UK. But jazz has a long history in this country – often arriving via the port of Liverpool it had a huge and immediate impact on British musicians, artists and audiences – particularly dancers.”

As well as charting the arrival of jazz music, the research project looks at the impact of jazz in Britain, how British audiences and musicians responded and how it shapes today's music.

Watch the video below to hear from Professor Tackley and some of the musicians and dancers involved at a performance at Hoxton Hall, London.

Rhythm and Reaction

As part of her research, Professor Catherine Tackley curated an exhibition in partnership with The Arts Society for the annual Winter Exhibition at Two Temple Place.

The exhibition, Rhythm & Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain highlighted how the new jazz sound in post-War nightclubs and dancehalls provided exciting and dynamic material for British artists.

During this era, the growing interest in jazz brought black and white musicians, artists and audiences together. It was crucial in influencing changes in British society; moving from stereotypes descended from the minstrel show to a more nuanced understanding of and interest in African American and black British culture.

Series of events

Events throughout the past year have included performances from:

  • Parr Jazz, Liverpool's well established jazz night
  • The Jubilee Stompers, a local five-piece band influenced by the Original Dixieland Band
  • Tomorrow's Warriors, an organisation which specialises in developing young jazz musicians, focusing on BAME and female artists
  • Kansas Smitty's, a house band based at Kansas Smitty's bar in East London featuring talent from London's jazz scene.
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Black Music in Europe

Listen to Professor Tackley on the BBC radio 4 series, Black Music in Europe: A Hidden History. The series uncovers the stories of black musicians in Europe, from the birth of recorded sound to the height of the jazz age.