RIP William Shaw, Founder of Jazz Coventry

William Shaw


The passing of William Shaw, founder of Coventry Jazz and one of the pivotal figures in jazz in the West Midlands for over forty years has been announced. There is a Facebook tribute by Neil McGowan HERE

Jazz Coventry website

2 comments:

  1. In the 90s, I remember some very happy evenings with William at Warwick Arts Centre, where he had booked Billy Jenkins. Very committed to the music, and one of the (many) unsung heroes who has supported the music voluntarily for so many years.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am very sad to hear this. William was a jazz pioneer in the days (the mid 1970s) when jazz was unfashionable, seemed to be clinging to the edge and promotion was precarious. William laid the ground in a quiet and unfussy way, with Yorkshire common sense aplenty, for much of what was to follow in the Midlands. Leicester Jazz Society was then the only regular Midlands jazz club that pre-dated William’s initiative. I remember him telling me his rationale: the losses he and his Committee bore on the gigs they promoted were less than the next best alternative – driving down the M1 every week to Ronnie Scott’s. He also once told me that following a run of bad losses his Committee told him with some reluctance, that they would have to throw in the towel and close the club. ‘We can’t do that,’ he replied, ‘I’ve just booked the next 5 acts’ and got them to each put £50 in the kitty.

    In 1975 I helped set up and run the Jazz club at Warwick University. We were cuckoos in the nest starting up not that long after Coventry Jazz. Somehow we co-existed and managed to avoid bad programming clashes. William was very tolerant and supportive in, I suspect a quietly amused way. I got to know William and Mary who were unfailing hospitable to a nervous, energetic 20 something and got along to Coventry Jazz’s gigs as often as I could. I have fond memories of some outstanding performances at the cosy upstairs room in the Bull’s Head, Binley Road, Coventry Jazz’s first venue; Morrisey Mullen, The Stan Tracey Quartet and Watts, Stevens and Guy are but three. The cream of British Jazz trod that modest stage. William and I would frequently get into discussion on some point of jazz or another and invariably would be in animated debate when the Bass solo started, our voices booming across an otherwise quiet room. I am sorry I didn’t keep in contact when I left the Midlands ten years later, but I have treasured memories from those days. RIP and condolences to Mary.

    ReplyDelete