Peter Boizot 1929 – 2018

The press obituaries for Peter Boizot, who has died aged 89 after a lengthy illness, have largely concentrated on his role as founder of the Pizza Express restaurant chain. He had enjoyed pizza while working in Europe and brought the first specialist oven to the UK, opened his initial Pizza Express outlet in Wardour Street in 1965 and the rest is history, as they say.

More pertinently for Jazzwise readers he began to feature jazz performances in the basement of his Dean Street restaurant in Soho. Initially, these involved pianists like the late Lennie Felix, but gradually under the auspices of successive bookers Dave Bennett and KC Sulkin, Dean Street became a seven-nights-a-week haven for every visiting American musician and a whole school of mainstreamers like Warren Vache, Ruby Braff and, particularly, tenorist Scott Hamilton, who continues to appear there often. Peter later took on Kettner’s, a venerable Soho landmark and employed a series of pianists, Jazzwise’s own Brian Priestley included, to play there for the lunch-time diners. Gradually other Pizza Express outlets also began to offer jazz, including the Maidstone restaurant and Pizza on the Park, eventually London’s principal cabaret venue until it was sold off and converted into a boutique hotel.

Boizot, who had already started an employee’s newsletter, later initiated Jazz Express, a monthly magazine which employed writers like Peter Clayton and Max Jones (as well as me) and covered the wider jazz scene. There were also occasional releases on his Pizza record label and he supported two resident bands, the Kettner’s Modern Jazz Sextet, which gave musicians like Alan Barnes and Gerard Presencer early prominence, and the more mainstream Pizza Express All Stars, led successively by Dave Shepherd and Tommy Whittle. He also sponsored the Soho Jazz Festival and underwrote the all-star Pizza Express Jazz Festivals.

Very much a man of eclectic tastes and interests other than jazz, Boizot held contributor’s lunches at Kettner’s where one might rub shoulders with the likes of Spike Milligan or the artist Eduardo Paolozzi whose work he collected. A keen hockey player into his early sixties, Peter liked to host his hockey friends and his Liberal Party associates at Dean Street. He had twice stood unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate.

He became substantially wealthy when the Pizza Express chain went public in 1993 and later returned to his home town of Peterborough, investing heavily in the town’s cultural and sporting life. Boizot owned Peterborough FC for 10 years, bought the town’s Great Northern Hotel which hosted Peterborough Jazz Club and ploughed extensive funds into a new cultural centre.

Boizot later sold the hotel and returned only occasionally to his old Soho haunts. He had been one of London’s primary jazz impresarios and we, musicians and punters alike, owe him a great deal. Peter was mercurial, generous, impulsive, always dynamic and sometimes exasperating, but a wonderful companion and ambassador for jazz.

Peter Vacher

 

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Babelfish swim to Kings Place for Once U…

Acclaimed jazz-folk group Babelfish are set to launch their new...

Read More.....

Michael Janisch kicks out the jams for n…

Whirlwind Recordings label boss Michael Janisch (above centre) steps back...

Read More.....

Lost Miles Davis Rubberband album snaps …

Rubberband, a previously unissued 1985 album by Miles Davis, is...

Read More.....

Grégoire Tirtiaux and Gratitude Trio lea…

This is a festival where it’s possible to completely miss Kamasi...

Read More.....

Final Bow For The Night Tripper – A Trib…

Refuting the title of his biggest hit, ‘Right Place, Wrong...

Read More.....

Rossano Sportiello rounds out Harriet Co…

For 40 amazing years, the singer Harriet Coleman has presented...

Read More.....

Ronnie Scott’s rolls up to Royal Albert …

Ronnie Scott’s, the iconic London jazz club, will mark its...

Read More.....

Wollny Steals The Night As Moran Breaks …

The first thing to notice were the queues, over 200...

Read More.....

Steam Down, Emma-Jean Thackray and Leafc…

Stroud’s reputation as the alternative hippy hub of the Cotswolds...

Read More.....

Andrew McCormack returns with Graviton: …

Award-winning pianist Andrew McCormack storms back with the second volume...

Read More.....

Jazz Cafe sax summit kicks off second Lo…

Following its successful inaugural run last year, the London Saxophone...

Read More.....

McFerrin Moves Estonian Voices To Jubila…

The second half of Tallinn’s 10-day Jazzkaar festival was particularly...

Read More.....

Herbie Hancock, Terri Lyne Carrington an…

The line-up for this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival is...

Read More.....

Williams And Mancio Find Home With Subli…

  Kate Williams and her distinctive Four Plus Three, that’s her...

Read More.....

McBride, Porter, Reeves and Jazz At Linc…

Although it is a respected cultural event throughout the Caribbean...

Read More.....

Major unreleased Tubby Hayes Fontana alb…

Christmas comes early for fans of the late, great Brit-jazz...

Read More.....

Ripsaw Get Rolling

Baritone saxophonist Cath Roberts and guitarist Anton Hunter take their...

Read More.....

Cello Fellows Honsinger, Dixon & Lon…

The fifth annual Chicago Jazz String Summit took place at...

Read More.....

Bristol Jazz Fest launches Crowdfunder l…

The Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival has launched a...

Read More.....

Marcus Miller, Tim Garland and Leïla Mar…

The full line-up for this year’s Manchester Jazz Festival has...

Read More.....

Joshua Redman And Sosa Electrify Spirits…

After last year’s swelter, Cheltenham Festival offered a more temperate climate for...

Read More.....

Friedlander Frames Family Memories At Ka…

  If many contemporary jazz festivals opt for maximum numbers, gigs-wise...

Read More.....

Bonsai band bounce out for album and UK…

Progressive jazz five-piece Bonsai – formerly known as Jam Experiment...

Read More.....

Prieto Exhibits Latin Prowess, While Med…

This 30th edition of the Savannah Music Festival featured a...

Read More.....

Jazz 625 BBC4 Live broadcast and Free St…

With Cheltenham Jazz Festival set for a busy six days...

Read More.....

Steam Down Collective, Sons Of Kemet, Ca…

This year’s Jazz FM Awards ceremony took place at Shoreditch...

Read More.....

Ribot Leads Revolutionary Call At Jazz E…

Portugal’s premier experimental jazz bash, Jazz em Agosto, adopts a...

Read More.....

Cinematic Orchestra, Friday Arena and Ba…

The organisers of this year’s Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension …

  Kicking off this evening’s set with a high-octane crash through...

Read More.....

Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano and Lu…

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs...

Read More.....

Stanley Clarke Captivates With Crowd-Sur…

As Return to Forever bass legend Stanley Clarke (pictured above) opened...

Read More.....

Bro, Seim and Gustafsson amid the Scandi…

  As a snapshot of the great charm of Vossa Jazz's...

Read More.....

Laura Mvula, Melt Yourself Down and Alin…

  Love Supreme continue to expand the brand by bringing an...

Read More.....

Empirical get set for Distraction Tactic…

Multi-award winning London four-piece Empirical release the second part of...

Read More.....

Thrice is the charm for APA Cole Porter …

Say what you like about America (and I frequently do)...

Read More.....

Blue Note President Don Was To Receive P…

Don Was, the President of the iconic Blue Note Records...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@OttoWillberg Oddly, that's also the title of one of his albums...
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @mpjanisch: S/o to @Jazzwise for premiering the album trailer for my new record coming out Sept 6 on @WhirlwindRecord - shot in Studio 3…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA