United Kingdom

Each of the four nations in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have vibrant jazz and related music scenes, with many opportunities for domestic and international musicians.

Jazz is a vital part of the UK’s musical voice and landscape. A passion for age-old traditions is matched by the enthusiasm for music being made today, and all forms of jazz exist within each nation, creating a unique cultural picture that spans ancient myths, engagement with treasured scenery and progressive artistic work, as well as many unique musical heritages.

The UK jazz scene is supported by a backbone of cultural organisations and funders who provide opportunities for musicians throughout their careers.  It is also characterised by a vibrant cultural mix with each nation being home to acclaimed musicians of all ages, and all genres from traditional jazz to free improvisation.

EJN members and others working in the sector have done much to invigorate the jazz scenes in many cities and regional centres in the UK.

With festivals, venues and promoters presenting both international and homegrown talent in all contexts and are increasingly known for developing education and community access programmes that hone the skills of the musicians of tomorrow. 

Also noteworthy is the range of venues that can set a particular mood from club basements to concert halls to green field sites. The UK has always found an energy from its music activities and live performance has long been at the heart of its expression.

UK jazz is currently enjoying a period of growth and popularity is due to the emergence of a new generation of musicians who are 'dance music' focused, incorporating styles such as Afrobeat. This energetic music has been embraced by young audiences and also media, clubs and festivals that are not jazz-based, e.g., Glastonbury Festival, as well as the jazz community. 

This scene has grown out of the work of organisations committed to diversity in jazz. They have offered early jazz education to budding musicians from diverse backgrounds and there has also been a growing commitment to gender diversity that has invigorated the genre, with researching showing that achieving meaningful diversity in UK jazz is an ongoing challenge. 

Jazz in the UK changes and evolves, and this is a particularly revitalising time. New collectives and bands bring fresh energies and develop new audiences, and there is also a solid core of industry professionals (labels, distributors, managers, agents, broadcasters, journalists, etc) who have been long involved and played a vital part in keeping the jazz landscape in good health. 

Guide compiled by Debra Richards and Martel Ollerenshaw