Jazz Through the Ages Exhibition

Black Mountain Jazz at the Abergavenny Arts Festival


  • Sunday 30th June 2019
  • 4.30pm to 7pm



  • Free

Here at BMJ we have created a dazzling new exhibition of ‘pop-up’ posters telling the story of jazz.

It will be unveiled for the first time on Sunday, June 30, as part of the club’s important contribution to the Abergavenny Arts Festival and then at its annual Wall2Wall Festival in August.

The fourteen posters – each around 3ft wide and 7ft high – can be easily unfurled and transported, so will feature at other events to signal BMJ’s presence.

Abergavenny graphic designer Jayne Goodwin and her company Art Matters have created the brilliant posters with the help of club members. They tell the story of jazz in brief commentary and include pictures and potted biographies of its leading musicians.

Jazz is an ongoing and developing music. But, like all great creative endeavours, its history is important, not least for those new to it and who are keen to learn more.

That history, which began in America towards the end of the 19th century, marked rapid changes in each decade of the 20th.  Lots of influences, including European classical music, minstrel shows, religious rites, and the field ‘hollers’ of Black agricultural labourers in the Deep South before and after the Civil War, combined meaningfully in New Orleans and places nearby before migrating up the Mississippi to spread rapidly throughout the United States.

Thanks to radio and recordings, jazz burst anew in Chicago, New York, and other great American cities. It was hot, it ‘swung’, it made the pulse race; but it could be beautifully slow, sad, and reflective. It changed from small groups to big bands and back again. It produced celebrated musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis. It began to ‘conquer’ the world and influence other forms of popular music.

Jazz became ‘modern’ and continued to inspire musicians the world over, not least in Britain and the Continent. Old styles gave way to new, but they never died. They enriched the jazz experience.

Most important, jazz continues to grow, excite, revive, and enthuse. Jazz makes life worth living.

During the exhibition, Nick Steel will provide his ‘The Wind-up Merchant’ entertainment, with a selection of 1920s to 1950s 78s gramophone records, featuring some of the past jazz greats.

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