Award-winner kicks off town jazz nights

Saxophonist Tony Kofi
Saxophonist Tony Kofi

NEW venture Chesterfield Jazz will open for business this month with a launch concert featuring award-winning saxophonist Tony Kofi.

Chesterfield jazz musicians Wendy Kirkland and Pat Sprakes are driving the new project, which kicks off on Thursday, May 24, at Club Chesterfield, on Chester Street, and believe they’ve found a gap in the market.

“There’s a thriving folk scene in the area but there isn’t anything for jazz,” said Wendy.

“We know that people in the area like jazz. Every time I send out a mailing, people ask when we are next playing locally and I had to say that we weren’t.”

Pianist and Hammond organist Wendy began her passion for jazz over 15 years ago, studying classical piano up to Grade 8 and then beginning tuition in jazz from some of the UKs top pianists – Kate Williams, daughter of guitarist John Williams, being one of them.

Together with guitarist/double bassist husband Pat, she has played at gigs and jazz clubs across the UK including at the Edinburgh and Brecon Festivals.

It’s their desire to see something different on the local music scene that has prompted them to try and give jazz a voice in S40.

“We’re bringing national artists to the area,” said Wendy.

“One of the reasons we’ve asked Tony to kick things off is that he and Pat used to do lots of gigs in Nottingham in the 1990s.

“So we know him as a colleague and a friend and he’s a very renowned and popular artist.”

Tony was named best instrumentalist at the BBC Jazz Awards in 2008 and nominated for a MOBO in the same year.

US virtuoso jazz guitarist Sheryl Bailey has asked to sit in on Chesterfield’s new club, as she will be over here on a rare trip to the UK.

June’s event will see one of the UK’s leading jazz guitarists Pat McCarthy – who has played alongside Jamie Cullum - come to Chester Street.

In November, BBC and Parliamentary Jazz Award winning guitarist Phil Robson will be playing.

The acts are backed by the house band – Wendy Kirkland on piano, Pat Sprakes on double bass and Clive Loveday on drums.

Doors open at 7.45pm with the first performance at 8.30pm.

Tickets are priced £7.50 in advance from, £9 on the door or £5 for under 18s.