Oxford University Jazz Society

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Logo of the Oxford University Jazz Society.

The Oxford University Jazz Society, also known as JazzSoc, is the focus of jazz music at the University of Oxford, England. Formerly known as the Oxford University Jazz Club, the society now provides the main arena for student players to interact musically, whilst also encouraging a non-student contingent.


In 1951 Oxford University Jazz Club held meetings in St Michael's Hall every Saturday at 8pm. This consisted of two sessions of live Jazz presented by the Club's musicians, a record interlude, and often a recital by a guest soloist. In 1953 the club started to hold its meetings on alternate Fridays in the Green Room of the Kemp Restaurant where the Club's resident band would perform.

In the 1960s, there were two sections of the jazz club at the University: the main Oxford University Jazz Club, which met at the Carfax Assembly Rooms and had dancing, and the "modern" section of the Jazz Club which met in seated venues elsewhere.[1]

The columnist and bass player Miles Kington, then a trombonist, was the musical organiser of the modern Jazz Club at the beginning of the 1960s.[2]

In 1963, the OU Jazz Club started the Big Night, initiated by Marcus Wigan on the Committee, and hired the entire Johnny Dankworth Big Band for what was a huge financial risk, but in the end turned out to be a successful event.[citation needed] The controlled capacity of the Carfax Assembly Rooms was strictly observed, and counters were allocated to check people in and out of the dance and performance hall itself during the evening to maintain these numbers. To the great chagrin of the organisers, with a huge profit in a queue extending well back through Carfax, the University Proctors came in and stopped any more tickets being sold... nevertheless, the night was a financial success and became an annual institution overnight for as long as the OU Jazz Club continued.

In the 1970s, the OU Jazz Club organized weekly gigs in the first floor of the former Roebuck public house in Market Street, central Oxford, presenting well-known British jazz musicians such as Lol Coxhill, Harry Beckett, Alan Skidmore, Don Rendell, Art Themen, Kenny Wheeler and Barbara Thompson as well as Oxford-based jazz bands including Pat Crumly's 'Edge' and the Oxcentrics.

After a period of inactivity in the 1980s, in 1994, the modern Jazz Club was reformed as the Jazz Society and is now colloquially known as "JazzSoc".[3] Between 1994 and 1997 it hosted a weekly jam session at Po Na Na on St Giles'; from 1997 to 2004 the session was at the Wheatsheaf pub on the High Street, where the jam session regularly attracted an audience of up to 100 students.

In 2004, JazzSoc returned to its original home at the Roebuck, known until 2006 as the 'Market Tavern' (after then it was transformed into a 'Wagamama' restaurant). From 2006 until 2008, JazzSoc took place at the 'Blue Bar' in the cellar of the Cock and Camel pub on George Street. This has also since transformed into restaurant, and is now owned by Jamie Oliver. In 2008, the society moved the weekly jam sessions to 'Thirst Lodge'.

As of October 2009, the jam runs every Tuesday night at Bar Copa.[4]


JazzSoc runs a weekly jam currently held on Tuesday nights from 8.00pm at The Mad Hatter on Iffley Road, Oxford. The jam typically opens with a house band set featuring performances by up-and-coming jazz ensembles. The floor is then opened to everyone and anyone with a desire to jam.

In addition, JazzSoc presents a 'spectacular' once a term, featuring an internationally renowned jazz act, playing either with their own band or with a local rhythm section. Past spectaculars have featured Nigel Hitchcock, Soweto Kinch, Julian Arguelles, and Jim Mullen.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The debates that, y'know, drive me mad, The Daily Telegraph, 30 November 2004.
  2. ^ Guardian Article, Dark Blues, UK.
  3. ^ JazzSoc, University of Oxford, UK.
  4. ^ Bar Copa, Oxford, UK.

External links[edit]