All that jazz for Bob Blizzard

FOR someone with two Zs in his name, jazz is perhaps the perfect musical passion.

And former Waveney MP Bob Blizzard expressed his delight this week after being named as the new chairman of the national organisation Jazz Services.

Mr Blizzard, a long-time enthusiast of the musical genre, was secretary of the all-party Parliamentary jazz appreciation group – which included the likes of Ken Clarke and John Prescott – during his time at Westminster.

Now he is looking forward to taking an active role in promoting the music and helping British jazz to continue to grow, from the grass roots to the international arena.

Speaking about the new non-executive post, Mr Blizzard told The Journal: 'It is quite nice. I have been in love with jazz since I was a student, and my personal music collection is nearly all jazz.

'When I was in Parliament, as secretary of the all-party group, I set up the Parliamentary jazz awards, which are now the only jazz awards still running nationally.

'Jazz Services knew I was passionate about jazz, so in September they asked me to join their board, and by the third meeting they had asked me to become chairman.'

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Jazz Services is an Arts Council England-funded organisation that was formed more than 25 years ago and has expanded steadily since the new millennium began.

It provides a voice and support for UK jazz, promoting its growth, accessibility and development in the UK and abroad.

Mr Blizzard takes on the chairmanship from former jazz promoter, Jazz Services board member and business and IT specialist John Blandford after a two-year stint that has seen the organisation take over the funding of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

He said: 'I'm delighted to become chair of Jazz Services, the only organisation that promotes the development and growth of British jazz right across the country, from the grass roots to international venues, from youngsters to professional musicians.

'I want to do all I can to lead Jazz Services, with a fresh vision, into the tough era of tighter public funding for the arts, working in partnership with others.

'I believe British jazz can still thrive: there is now more musical talent than ever.'

Mr Blizzard added: 'Jazz is definitely on the up, and the aim is to reach right across the country, to bring young people through and develop all the bands.

'We run a national tour and give fantastic support to up-and-coming bands, which allows them to tour the country from time to time.

'Some of the bands who have performed at Milestones Jazz Club in Lowestoft over the years have been supported through this scheme.

'It is quite busy at the moment and a very crucial time, as we have to get our bid right for Arts Council funding,'

Jazz Services director Chris Hodgkins said: 'I've had a long relationship with Bob Blizzard during his time as secretary of the all-party Parliamentary jazz appreciation group, and I was always struck by his enthusiasm and ability to master a brief and act decisively. I'm delighted he's going to be the new chair, and I feel his particular qualities are ideal for the challenges of the coming years.'