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Digby Fairweather

Speaker Topics


Locations Covered​

- South East


£150 - £500


1 Month Minimum

Profile Bio

Digby became a fulltime jazzman in l977 after twelve years as a qualified librarian in Southend-on-Sea; gradually working his way up through the British jazz scene from 1970-1976. During this time he began working and recording with all the principal jazz and Swing musicians in Britain - something he has continued to do ever since - as well as (from 1983) beginning a variety of solo projects, including collaborations on and off the record with veterans Nat Gonella, (Britain’s first star trumpeter) and double-bassist Tiny Winter, as well as leading his own band the ‘Jazz Superkings’ from 1987. From l979 he founded the educational charity ‘Jazz College’ (with pianist Stan Barker) as well as Britain’s first research centre for jazz, the National Jazz Archive, based in Loughton, Essex (l987-present). Over the years, as well as playing, Digby has set up a number of other jazz-related organizations, including the Association of British Jazz Musicians (l987-2017) the jazz section of the British Musicians’ Union (1992-2012) the Jazz Development Trust (with Sir John Dankworth, 1992-2010) and The Jazz Centre UK (Britain’s first cultural centre for jazz, 2016-present). During the l990s he combined playing with national broadcasting (for Jazz FM, BBC World Service, and BBC Radios 2 and 3) but in l998 returned to trumpeting fulltime. From then he played countrywide, replacing Britain’s greatest swing trumpeter the late Kenny Baker in the prestigious ‘Best of British Jazz’ touring package led by trombonist Don Lusher (1999-2006) and also co-led the ‘Great British Jazz Band’ (founded with the late trombonist, his close friend Pete Strange l994-2005) which played concerts throughout the UK and recorded three albums for the prestigious Candid label.

From l995 his own group ‘Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen’ began national touring before joining blues legend George Melly (2003-7); his group (which has only had two line-up changes in sixteen years) has – remarkably - won ‘Best Small Group’ in the British Jazz Awards (the ‘Jazz Oscars) twelve times between 2005 and 2019. Currently they combine touring as a prestigious solo act with collaborations with rock legend Paul Jones (in their show ‘Rocking in Rhythm’) and have been praised in the “Observer” as “the most versatile and entertaining group in Britain”. In 2023 they are celebrating their twenty-eighth year on the road in a new presentation titled “The Road Well Travelled”. Digby has also begun touring his one-man show ‘One Man, Fifty Years, One Hundred Minutes’ talking about his many personal experiences of life in the professional jazz world

A prolific author, journalist and contributor to major works (including ‘Grove’s Dictionary of Jazz, Dictionary f National Biography and ‘Jazz;the Rough Guide’) Digby’s first autobiography ‘Notes from a jazz life’ was published in Autumn 2002 and his book ‘On the road with George Melly; the last bows of a legend’ (Robson Books) came out in August 2007. The second edition of his autobiography was published by Northway Books in 2015 During his career he has recorded numerous albums as both leader and sideman, and his awards and honours include ‘BBC Jazz Society’s Musician of the Year’(l979), British Telecom Jazz Awards (Trumpet l992/Services to jazz l993), Benno Haussman Services to Jazz (l993), Freedoms of London/ Southend-on-Sea (1992/2000) Lifetime Achievement Award, London Worshipful Company of Musicians (2013) All Party Jazz Appreciation Group, Lords and Commons, ‘Special Services Award’ (2021). In recent years (much to his surprise!!) he has frequently been hailed as a British ‘jazz legend’ and Michael Dynan (in ‘The Stage’) has dubbed him ‘the best Ambassador British jazz could have’.

For further enquiries regarding Digby’s activities – and more information - please have a look at:

Talk Description

One Man Fifty Years One Hundred Minutes

In 'One Man, Fifty Years, One Hundred MInutes' I talk to the audience about what it's like to be a professional jazz musician - its highs and lows - and remember some of the wonderful (and sometimes uniquely eccentric) characters I'vebeen lucky enough to meet and work with on my travels. Some of the stories are funny; a few are sad - but above all I try to make my talks accessible to to jazz fans and general listeners alike. I bring along music to break up the chat and enjoy q/a with my audiences; a chemistry which regularly brings out new tales and fond reminiscences. Above all my talks are intended to be fun and send home my audiences feeling good.

Other Talks

Why people don't like jazz!
The story of Johnny Mercer.
A Handful of Songs.
What Larks! - the funny side of jazz!
King Louis: the story of Louis Armstrong.

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