NEWS: Surprise 70th Birthday Celebration for Tony Dudley-Evans


A surprise 70th birthday party for Birmingham-based jazz promoter Tony Dudley-Evans (Biography), meticulously, secretly organized by Mary Wakelam Sloan, who works with Tony at Jazzlines, took place in Birmingham's Symphony Hall last night with over 100 guests.

A band assembled specially for the occasion played on the hall's main stage, introduced by bassist Chris Mapp, and including saxophonist Paul Dunmall and drummer Mark Sanders. A speech was made by Richard Hawley of THSH Birmingham, and a number of birthday wishes were read out:

I first met Tony Dudley-Evans in 1998 when I was invited by the CMN to tour the Mahler project in Britain. For a week an octet of New Yorkers toured England by bus and we all had a great time playing and hanging out. Tony shepherded our group around and during that memorable week we got to know each other. Since then, Tony has invited me to play various projects at the Cheltenham Festival and Birmingham Jazz and we have become good friends. Tony is a cheerful and enthusiastic advocate for the many diverse areas of improvised music today. He is interested in promoting and advocating for the current, the new, and the experimental in music. He is a good companion on the road and I enjoy talking to him about politics and the music scene in general. He is also someone who is very proud of Birmingham and always took us to eat great balti whenever we played there. Tony - thanks for all the support and encouragement through the years and continued success in the future with all your projects! - Uri Caine

A very happy birthday from the 3 Chris's from trioVD, here's to another 70 years of exciting and vital programming – CHEERS!” - Chris Sharkey

We are very sorry that we are not able to be with you this evening, but would like to wish you a very happy 70th birthday. It is hard to believe that you really are that age. You have such energy, enthusiasm for life and a forward looking attitude to everything you do that few people half your age could even aspire to. As Mark Twain said: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter”. Have a great party. May there be many more!” - Christine Allen and Max Steuer

Happy 70th birthday and the very best wishes to a man who, for his youthful enthusiasm, energy and generosity, proves that jazz is not only the elixir of life, but also good for mind, heart and soul.” - Peter Bacon

The last time I was in Birmingham with Tim Berne's band Paraphrase (2007), Tony took us to the best Indian meal I’ve ever had, bar none. My taste buds will always be in his debt. Happy birthday - may you have many more!!!” - Steve Byram

Tony, you are a model to everyone. Your open ears, your advocacy for the music and shrewd listening set standards. I've heard a rumour that beyond 50 one gets younger again. You are proof positive!” - Ollie Weindling

Dear Tony, many, many happy returns for a wonderful birthday from your erstwhile colleague and long-term friend and admirer, With much love, Kate Danielson

With Steve Ajao


Congratulations on reaching the big 70 - amazing stuff! Even more incredible has been your tireless work in the jazz community over the years, investing in young and upcoming artists, broadening audiences and generally just being a really lovely person to work with. You meant a lot to Abram, and you mean a lot to me too. With much love, Jennie Cashman

Dear Tony, Happy Birthday! Since I've met and worked with you it is totally clear to me that your sole intentions are for the enjoyment and betterment of the music, and I applaud you on all the great work you have and continue to do. The world definitely needs many more people like you and I really mean that. I hope you have a great day.” - Michael Janisch

My best wishes to the birthday boy!” - Alyn Shipton



Tony commissioned & supported some seminal projects which were milestones in my life & career. These include my octet, (which was my first large ensemble writing venture), my trio with Billy Hart & James Genus, my quartet with David Liebman & also enabled many other great opportunities such as the 'Partisans' collaboration with Wayne Krantz at Cheltenham festival. All of these experiences have contributed towards me becoming the player & composer I am today & for this I am eternally grateful. Sorry I couldn't be there Tony but I hope you have a truly great night.” - Phil Robson

Dear Tony, I have grown over the past few years to appreciate your special and unfailing wizardry of getting the right music into the right space. Thank you for some extraordinary musical experiences, and have a great evening.” - Seb Scotney

Happy 70th Birthday Tony (I’d never have believed it!). Thanks also for your tireless efforts in support of jazz in the city of Birmingham and beyond - both with Birmingham Jazz and latterly with Jazzlines. I have seen many wonderful performances in what, for me, is now nearly thirty years of jazz concert going in Birmingham and you have been at the heart of it for all this time. Musicians and fans have many reasons to be grateful for your unwavering commitment and innovative programming over the years. - Thanks too for making Cheltenham Jazz Festival one of the most cutting edge of its kind and an integral and essential part of my personal jazz calendar. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and will keep up the good work for many years to come. Up the Baggies!” - Ian Mann

Tony Dudley Evans masterminded the Jerwood Rising Stars and Jerwood Jazz Generation at Cheltenham. He is the man who brought Abram Wilson into my life, and commissioned RIDE as well as the stunning Let Freedom Ring from Denys Baptiste, that unbelievable Seb Rochford concert in 2007 and so so so much more– they were some of the proudest and most exciting moments of my musical life......TDE makes some of the most refined thoughtful judgements when it comes to jazz and its people. He’s the coolest cat in town.” - Roanne Dods

Tony has met and promoted many of the giants of jazz, including the legendary saxophonist Michael Brecker. Tony told me how he was on tour with the Brecker "Wide Angles" band. Brecker had worked with countless great jazz musicians, but also pop and rock stars including Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa and Simon and Garfunkel. A young fan came up to the saxophonist and asked "What was it like to work with Frank?" - Brecker shot back: "Zappa or Sinatra?" - Later, in the band bus, Brecker exclaimed: "I hated working with Zappa!" - John Watson

I will always be grateful for Tony's superb advice on all kinds of topics: from playing bass, to promoting gigs to how to ask for gigs. - His input at the jazz course at Birmingham Conservatoire has provided the best workshops and lessons we could have hoped for. Birmingham would have nowhere near as healthy a scene without him. - Happy Birthday to one of the most supportive and proactive people one could ever hope to meet.” - Nick Jurd

”Tones for Tone's bones (with apologies to Chick Corea). Tony has the knack of encouraging a sense of well-being and sheer pleasure whether involved with the making or appreciation of music or simply the occasion and pleasure in being there. He wears his scholarship lightly but somehow these days his own particular kind of ESP is more Wayne Shorter than linguistics. Academia's loss is definitely jazz's gain. Long may he promote and encourage new talent! Best moment? Mention must be made of the by now legendary speech he delivered on the stage of Ronnie Scott's at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival London launch some years ago when he let the (admittedly slightly baffled) audience into a lesser known TD-E passion: his secret love of pork pies and Budvar beer! Hopefully, he'll be able to enjoy some of each in suitable quantity as birthday celebrations continue. Many happy returns! All the best and I hope it's a pleasurable occasion” - Stephen Graham

Happy Birthday it has been a real privilege to work with you over the last few years.” - Peter Millican

Tony. Congratulations from all of us at Jazz Services. Over the years you have provided incredible support, knowledge and expertise to Jazz Services touring and recording support panels and to jazz in the UK at large. If your marvellously selfless and generous contributions were monetised we would be “rich beyond the dreams of avarice”. You have provided the perfect antidote to a world of modernity; where envy and grasping greed seem to be the moral compass of choice. More power to your elbow.” - Chris Hodgkins

Big birthday greetings Tony. The older you get the freer you get. So that will be Peter Brotzmann and the Thing at both Birmingham and Cheltenham next year then!” - Jon Newey

Many happy returns Tony. I’m sorry I can’t be there. I do hope the evening will make you as happy as you were at the Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg when you found out the hotel had ITV and you could watch Downton Abbey in your room. I’ll never forget how your little face lit up!” - Todd Wills

A very Happy birthday from everyone at mac.” - Louisa Davies

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And a unique contribution from Django Bates

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