Jazz is back at Hertfordshire pub

Jazz returns to The Bell

BACK in the late Sixties, if you were a jazz fan in Hertfordshire, there was only one place to go to see the greats play live.

For almost 20 years, The Bell in Codicote was home to Herts Jazz, a small committee set up in 1969 that brought some of the great jazz artists of the era to Hertfordshire – Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Peter King and Dick Morrissey were just a few to have played at the High Street pub.

But then in the mid 80s Herts Jazz moved to WGC, and in December 2009 the committee officially folded, and jazz music in Hertfordshire looked set to became a fond but distant memory.

But Clark Tracey, son of legendary jazz pianist Stan Tracey, had other ideas, and this Sunday The Bell Inn, itself rejuvenated following a �50,000 refurbishment in January, will host its first jazz night in more than 20 years.

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The first night will see a performance from the Stan Tracey Quartet, with Clark, 49, accompanying his dad on drums.

“It just occurred to me that it was silly to stop after 40 years,” said Clark, the new chairman of Herts Jazz.

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“And so many of us cut our teeth at The Bell that it made sense to go back.”

The Bell’s Phillip Kelly said: “It sounded like a cracking idea, The Bell has always lent itself to jazz on a Sunday, for some reason.”

It will be an emotional night, as the committee remembers two of Herts Jazz’s biggest supporters – former chairman Brian Benton and WHT chief photographer Denis Williams.

Mr Benton died in 2008, while Mr Williams, a life-long jazz fan, died last year.

In tribute, The Bell has renamed its restaurant area The Benton Suite, and a collection for a memorial bench for Mr Williams will be organised by his friend Tricia Gauduchon.

Tickets for Sunday’s show have sold out, but there are plenty more gigs coming up over the next few months.

Visit the Herts Jazz website or email info@hertsjazz.co.uk for more information.

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