How it Started

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John Crocker In April 1996, Ken Godfrey, leader of the Central Jazz Band and clarinet and saxophone player in various bands for many years, took early retirement. He decided that, among many other things, he would like to start a jazz club in the East Midlands. Not just another "free" session in the bar of a pub where local bands held forth, but a more exclusive venue where the more discerning jazz enthusiast would be happy to pay to hear the best traditional bands in the UK and from abroad.

After over a year of searching, Ken found himself playing at the Risley Park, an up-market pub/restaurant with a separate function room with stage and private bar, situated just a few minutes' drive from Junction 25 of the M1, midway between Nottingham and Derby.

Enrico Tomasso Ken contacted the proprietor, Mike Staniforth, and presented his ideas for the jazz club. Mike gave it his blessing and the Risley Park Traditional Jazz Club was born. The first session took place on June 4th 1997 and featured the Zenith Hot Stompers.

Now in its 18th year, the club has presented just about every leading jazz band in the UK plus bands from Norway, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Russia. Many famous guest artists have also performed, including John Crocker (above right), Alan Elsdon, Mike Cotton, Enrico Tomasso (above left) and Roy Williams (below, right).

Roy Williams In the beginning, many people told Ken that the club would never succeed because most jazz followers would not be prepared to pay to listen to jazz, when they could hear it free in many pubs and bars. This has proved not to be the case, because the Risley Park offers top quality jazz in a comfortable room, amongst friendly people and in an atmosphere that is favourable to the appreciation of good live music.