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Jazz legend Kenny Ball’s son prepares to bring intimate new jazz night to Romford

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 August 2017

A fortnightly jazz showcase organised by jazz legend Kenny Ball’s son will open its doors for the first time next month.

The jazz nights will run every other Thursday at The Brickyard in South Street, Romford, from September 7.

Keith Ball, 56, who lives in Hornchurch, said the dedicated jazz night was something he had been wanting to do for a long time.

He told the Recorder: “We’re downstairs and it’s a lovely venue – the staff are great and the acoustics are fantastic.

“I think it really feels like [Oxford Street’s legendary] The 100 Club, and that’s exactly the kind of feel I want these nights to have.

“I want it to be a place where people can come in and relax, get into the swing of things and maybe even join us on stage and show us their talent if they fancy it.

“There’s less and less of these live music venues around now, so it’s going to be really good to have one locally.”

Keith’s father Kenny died on March 7 last year aged 82 after a battle with pneumonia. He originally found fame in the 1960s when his song Midnight in Moscow became an international hit.

Kenny and the Jazzmen performed at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and toured the world, notably performing to thousands of people in Moscow in 1984 at venues such as Red Square.

After his death, Keith relaunched Kenny’s band in the guise of Kenny Ball Junior and his Jazzmen after finding a letter his dad had left behind urging him to do so.

Lifelong Havering resident Keith said: “I started playing drums with my dad at the age of seven and music has been my life.

“When I was younger I played drums on Sundays down at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch and I’ve been in showbusiness since I was 15.

“Occasionally you take some time away from it but life’s kind of a big circle, it always brings you back around to jazz.”

The nights will be organised around audience participation, with a jazz quartet led by Keith running the opening half of the set before opening up the stage for more improvisation and off-the-cuff music.

An idea for live jazz in Havering is one Keith has long harboured ambitions for.

“I know the owner of old and it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, but the timing’s never quite worked out,” he told the Recorder.

“Now it has and I hope it can become something people hear about and want to be a part of.

“It’s in a great location and I think it would be great if, instead of heading up to London to Ronnie Scott’s or one of the other places, people felt like they could get off the train and walk down to us.”

Jazz has always been a family affair to Keith and his father, so it is understandable that he has been so enthusiastic and persistent in making his dream of a local Romford jazz night a reality.

“Music meant so much to my dad, and I’ve been raised with it and now it means so much to me,” he said.

“It will be one of the best things to happen in my life if I can help people enjoy or maybe even discover that music for the first time.

“If it goes well and people like it I’ll do them every week, it’s all about giving people a place to showcase their talents.”

And that ethos runs through everything Keith is planning for the new showcase.

In October, he plans to launch a talent show at the venue with a grand prize of £1,000 to encourage people to flex their musical muscles more often.

Admission to Keith’s jazz nights at The Brickyard, which will run every other Thursday from September 7, will be £5 and the events run from 7pm till late.

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