Staff post: Jazzlines - a special birthday

As well as Jazzlines, our dynamic strand of jazz concert programming, turning one year old this month, we had another big jazz-related birthday to celebrate – our Jazz Adviser and all-time music hero Tony Dudley-Evans turned 70 last weekend.

Thanks to super sterling work by Jazzlines colleague Mary Wakelam Sloan, who managed to not only orchestrate a gathering of 100 of Tony’s family, friends and colleagues in Symphony Hall’s Cafe Bar – completely unknown to him – but also coordinate over 25 of Birmingham’s finest young jazz musicians to form a big band and perform on stage inside the hall as an additional surprise for the well-known figure who has contributed much to the regional and national jazz community over the years.

A few days prior to the event, we’d been secretly requesting messages from many of the musicians, broadcasters, promoters and journalists that Tony has worked with during his time as a jazz promoter and programmer …and some absolute gems came back, including:

Happy 70th birthday and the very best wishes to a man who, for his youthful enthusiasm, energy and generosity, proves that jazz is not only the elixir of life, but also good for mind, heart and soul.

Peter Bacon, The Jazz Breakfast

Happy Birthday! Since I’ve met and worked with you it is totally clear to me that your sole intentions are for the enjoyment and betterment of the music, and I applaud you on all the great work you have and continue to do. The world definitely needs many more people like you and I really mean that. I hope you have a great day.

Michael Janisch, bassist and educator

Dear Tony, many, many happy returns for a wonderful birthday from your erstwhile colleague and long-term friend and admirer. With much love.

Kate Danielson, Arts Producer

Dear Tony, I have grown over the past few years to appreciate your special and unfailing wizardry of getting the right music into the right space. Thank you for some extraordinary musical experiences, and have a great evening.

Seb Scotney, London Jazz

Happy 70th Birthday Tony (I’d never have believed it!). Thanks also for your tireless efforts in support of jazz in the city of Birmingham and beyond – both with Birmingham Jazz and latterly with Jazzlines. I have seen many wonderful performances in what, for me, is now nearly thirty years of jazz concert going in Birmingham and you have been at the heart of it for all this time. Musicians and fans have many reasons to be grateful for your unwavering commitment and innovative programming over the years.

Thanks too for making Cheltenham Jazz Festival one of the most cutting edge of its kind and an integral and essential part of my personal jazz calendar. Finally many thanks for your encouragement and support of my efforts at jazz journalism on the Jazzmann website in recent years and for your generosity in the granting of press tickets. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and will keep up the good work for many years to come. Up the Baggies!

Ian Mann, The Jazzmann

Read more of Tony’s birthday messages over at London Jazz, and feel free to contribute your own using Disqus below, or via tweets using the hashtag #Jazzlines

– Lyle Bignon, THSH Communications