CAN you help Digby Fairweather find a spare room and play a vital part in preserving British jazz history?

The Southend jazz star and CEO of The Jazz Centre UK, needs someone to donate a large space in order to keep a gigantic collection of independently released UK jazz records, which are not being archived in the BBC or the National Sound Archive of the British Library.

Digby fears that unless a home is found for the mammoth collection, the history of UK jazz music made between 1980 to date, will be lost in "a black hole".

He said: "As I know to my cost, no jazz musician in Britain has been able to secure a recording contract with any major label since the 1980s when the pop industry took over. That’s over 30 years – but meanwhile musicians as famous as, say, Humphrey Lyttelton, and literally thousands of other great ones, have carried on recording regardless on their own privately-financed labels.

"So there are hundreds and thousands of jazz recordings which have never found their way onto the record shelves of major outlets.

"And if something isn’t done about this, future generations of jazz lovers will say ‘what happened? There seems to be a black hole in British jazz on record from around 1980 on!'

"Of course the records do exist. And - for just one example - our local friend Trevor Taylor (who’s a marvellous musician) has issued over 500 wonderful CDs on his FMR label. Multiply that by however many other musicians nationally have done it over the last 30 years, and there’s your ‘black hole’ right there! Another problem is that very few such players think to deposit their recordings in places where they could be stored and preserved like the BBC or the National Sound Archive of the British Library. I’ve just spoken with Andy Linehan at the NSA and he tells me that they don’t do anything about this at all."

He added: "I think it’s time that The Jazz Centre UK set about putting this matter right, but the problem is I need a room! "I wondered if anywhere in Southend is a philanthropic soul with a (very) big empty room who might like to help us set the matter to rights. If we had the space I would go out of my way to find a sponsor – or even try to raise the money myself – to equip what could be the first national repository for jazz and blues in this country!"

Contact the Jazz Centre UK on 01702 435727 or 07957 423821 if you can help.

The Jazz Centre UK is situated in the Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Avenue, Southend.

It celebrates the music’s heritage, art and memorabilia and actively supports and promotes contemporary performance and education.