Swanage Jazz Festival supporters will be sad to hear that longstanding Festival compere, Brian Blain died last week aged 92.
Brian was an unsung pillar of British Jazz, seemingly around forever. He joined the Musicians’ Union in 1965 as Music Promotions Officer and stayed until retirement, helping countless musicians along the way. It was Brian who commissioned the MU’s talismatic yellow ‘Keep Music Live’stickers.
When in 1967, Ronnie Scotts moved its club to Frith Street, Brian helped persuade the club to make their old Greek Street premises available to a new rising group of young British jazz musicians. This became the legendary ‘Old Place’ which fuelled a British Jazz ‘revolution’ from which many new musicians, bands and composers emerged. In 1968 a group of leading London jazz musicians set up The London Jazz Centre Society and invited Brian to be Chair. He remained Chair of the renamed Jazz Centre Society until the organisation’s untimely demise in 1982.
Brian was a knowledgeable jazz critic and a perceptive writer, reviewing concerts and albums for Melody Maker and other publications under the pseudonym of Christopher Bird. After retiring from the Musicians Union he launched an excellent series of club gigs at Lauderdale house in North London. His knowledge was put to good use as a compere at Swanage Jazz Festival where he introduced a wide range of bands, many of which he knew well personally. He will be much missed at Swanage Jazz Festival.
Our condolences to his wife Maureen and children Matthew and Sarah.
Further tributes to Brian are here: https://londonjazznews.com/2022/10/14/rip-brian-blain-1929-2022/
And accolades and anecdotes on his 90th birthday are here:
Brian’s funeral takes place in London on Tuesday 1 November. If any Swanage Jazz Festival supporters would like to attend please email us for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Blain introducing Bobby Wellins at the 2013 Swanage jazz Festival with Kate Williams: piano, Oli Hayhurst: bass and Tristan Mailliott: drums. Photo: Jon Macey
If you have memories of Brian, please share them with us.