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As music society folds, have people stopped listening to jazz?

PUBLISHED: 08:43 10 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:55 10 November 2019

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

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For more than two decades it has hosted gigs featuring internationally renowned musicians.

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

But now, after 22 years in operation, Dereham Jazz Society (DJS) is set to fold and will no longer organise jazz nights in and around the town.

The club, formed by trumpeter Gerry Salisbury, has based itself at three venues over the years, most recently Dereham Golf Club.

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

During that period its committee members have attracted jazz talent from across the globe, encouraging them to showcase their talents in the heart of Norfolk.

And yet, despite an abundance of musicians still performing jazz, audience numbers have dwindled and the society has decided its activity is no longer rewarding nor financially viable.

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

Treasurer John Clark, who joined 13 years ago, says the club's function has simply reached its natural end.

"Numbers have dropped significantly in recent years," he admitted. "It's a shame but there has to be a requirement for it. If there aren't enough people interested it's just not feasible.

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

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"In life you like to think your efforts are appreciated. If you employ a renowned saxophonist and band, it can be demoralising if they're only playing to 15 or 20 people."

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

Until its move from Lakeside Country Club to Dereham GC in 2015, the society was hosting a weekly gig for 35 weeks of the year.

Over time, though, putting on such regular events became more challenging, with fewer audience members seemingly interested in jazz.

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

"There's a great irony in the jazz world in that youngsters love playing it, but they are not bringing an audience with them," said Mr Clark.

"I love The Beatles, but they ushered a rock era and jazz very quickly started to dwindle. From then on, you've effectively got 40 years of very few people listening to jazz.

Dereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom SaundersDereham Jazz Society, which hosts gigs in mid Norfolk, is set to cease its activity after 22 years. Picture: Tom Saunders

"People who were around before rock 'n' roll and a few kids are the only audience now."

The society's last gig at Dereham Golf Club is on November 28 with violinist Tim Kliphuis, before a farewell concert at Dereham Memorial Hall on January 16 with Dixie Mix.

"Everything must come to an end but this is a celebration of our 22 years," added Mr Clark.

"We're proud we have brought excellent music into the community for such a long time."

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