About this Archive

This archive of  live recordings of jazz music was recorded in the 1960′s in London clubs including Ronnie Scott’s, at their request, by Les Tomkins who, as a journalist and interviewer, has figured on the London jazz scene for many years. Gearbox Records is licensing selected items from this catalogue on the basis of its important cultural and heritage value.

The heritage is valuable and significant insofar as the live recordings are a true record of jazz performances by celebrated musicians and artists during the height of London’s jazz era. During the 1960s, British musicians were unable to travel to the US to perform with their American contemporaries due to a visa restriction enforced by the American Musicians’ Union. As such, London became a centre for jazz ensembles to congregate and perform without restrictions based on their nationality. 

The heritage is valued by jazz listeners, musicologists, music historians, historians focused on London’s music venues. The heritage can and will be valued by young people for whom jazz is a new and unfamiliar genre of music. The British Library have provided a letter confirming the archive’s heritage value. The project will have outputs on tape, insofar as the archive tapes will be conserved, in digital format hosted by a number of sites including that of the British Library, and true-to-period vinyl records that will provide an authentic listening experience. The project includes a programme of heritage activities to facilitate public engagement with the heritage material.