Southampton Gets Ahead As New Jazz Venue Prospers



(Pianist Jason Rebello guests on the Talking Heads stage with Southampton Youth Jazz Orchestra, led by Dan Mar-Molinero on soprano sax)


Eighteen months ago the Talking Heads was a small pub on the outskirts of Southampton, presenting local jazz bands once a week in a gloomy back room. Today, having relocated to plush premises twice the size in the centre of town, it has established itself as one of the city's most popular jazz venues, and is attracting the top UK players. It also means that, taken in conjunction with the city's other venues, there is now jazz available somewhere in Southampton almost every night of the week.

Pianist Dave Newton says it's among the best UK jazz clubs he's played in: "I like it very much. The main room is a nice size to play to and it has a really good stage, a tremendous sound system, an excellent bar and a really comfortable backstage room. There aren't many local jazz clubs that can supply all that. Long may it continue."

In fact the pub boasts two concert rooms, each with a full bar. The larger of the two has a wide stage with state-of-the-art lighting and PA, and it's here that the volunteer-run Southampton Jazz Club presents the likes of Alan Barnes, Gilad Atzmon and Liane Carroll on Tuesdays once a month.

In the smaller adjacent bar, the city's other voluntary-run club, the Southampton Modern Jazz Club, presents more contemporary jazz free-of-charge every Sunday and alternate Thursdays, in an intimate setting in which the audience is no more than four metres from the band.

Two local jazz musicians, tenor saxophonist Lizzie Bennie and drummer Ted Carrasco, help to run the venue, and they have tried to make the venue the kind of place which they, as musicians, would like to play in themselves. Bennie says: "We've both been on gigs where we've found ourselves stuck in a corner of a bar with barely a reachable power socket or decent lighting available. Here we provide all these, plus lights for music stands, spare stands as well, and a decent baby grand piano. And with candles on the tables and real ales on tap as well, it gives all the benefits of your local bar with a top quality jazz club vibe."

– Ian Gilchrist

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