Smoke Free Zone


This is perhaps one of the most used and iconic photographs in Jazz, it is of Tenor Sax player Dexter Gordon and has been used as the cover for countless compilation albums of the artist and has even been on a T-Shirt (of which I am the proud owner of). What strikes me here is that the image is now something of a long forgotten age, the image of a jazz club is very different these days. Gone are the dingy back street joints with low lighting and sessions going well into the early hours (at least here in Blighty), these days they are either dedicated swanky venues of extreme comfort or in function or spare rooms in pubs and you only occasionally get the air of amused neglect of a building. I am still convinced the reason nothing at The Trumpet at Bilston has ever been taken off the walls is because the posters blue-tack and Sticky tape are holding the place together. Of course the smoking ban has long since dispersed the slow waft of smoke lingering around the patrons and band, although I would favour that that still is the mental image of a Jazz club.

In my stage directions for my screenplay set in a Jazz Cub I certainly described the Jazz club as a slightly creaky place with yellowing wall paper and worn posters and record sleeves adorning the walls, certainly in my mind’s eye I was basing the layout and decour as an amalgamation of the Trumpet in Bilston and the Harp in Albrighton when it was being run by Terry, complete with toilets of dodgy quality and a ridiculously long walk to get to them.

Somehow I think the more stylised venue loses some of the atmosphere of the venues and there no longer appears to be after hour jams.


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