What's On 2019

​30th Jan : Soweto Kinch
​27th Feb : Pete Long
​26th March : Andy Panayi
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What's On 2019

​11th July : Iain Ballamy
​22nd August : Byron Wallen
​19th September : Mark Bassey

​24th October : Fliss Gorst & Lauren Bush
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Welcome

The Blue Vanguard is a monthly jazz club dedicated to bringing the ​finest national and international guests to our home town of Exeter.

The club has run successfully since September 2011 and has a loyal following. If you would like to subscribe to our email list we will be more than happy to keep you informed of future gigs held at the club.

Podcasts featuring interviews and performances with previous guests are available below.

​Book Now

Advance booking is advisable ​as events are usually very busy. ​Please use the contact form to reserve your seats now.

All tickets are £12 (£5 student​s). Doors are open from 7.30 with performance times​ from 8.00 – 10.30.

Food is available to order but please arrive early if you wish to eat.

Events are hosted at the Gipsy Hill Hotel, Gipsy Hill Ln, Exeter, Devon EX1 3RN

  • Meet the Trio
  • ​Podcasts
  • Previous Guests

​Craig Milverton - Keys

Craig's main influences are Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans and his jazz interest was spawned by his fathers record collection, initially the Boogie Woogie pianists and then Oscar and Ella. Craig began performing in public as young as 10 years of age. He moved to Devon in 1985 and began gigging with local rock 'n' roll and jazz funk groups.

Since then Craig has toured extensively with a wide variety of groups including Junkyard Angels, Roger Mark's Quintet, the Pete Allen Jazz Band, Pizza Express International Band, the Kings of Jazz, Clarinet Maestros (with Julian Stringle & Ken Peplowski) across the UK, Europe and beyond.

In 1997, he joined Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen (releasing a CD '12 Feet off the Ground' in 1999) and from 2002-2007 was the backing unit for the late George Melly, recording 3 acclaimed CD's and including 4 month long residencies at Ronnie Scotts.

The year 2003 saw him on the front cover of Jazz Journal International with a feature article and his CD, 'It's a Jazz Life', was CD of the month in The Observer.

In 2005 his trio CD 'Three Flow' was reviewed by Richard Palmer (Biographer for Oscar Peterson's 'A Jazz Odessey') and was his choice for CD of the year for Jazz Journal International. For 4 years from 2003-2007 he put on his own 'Hayne Barton Jazz Festival', where he featured the cream of British Jazz Talent from across the entire jazz spectrum including support for artistes from the Southwest.

As well as being involved with Digby Fairweather's projects, he has many of his own groups. His latest show 'A Tribute To Oscar Peterson' with his Quartet paying homage to Craig's greatest inspiration (CD' Live At The Lights'). 'ZZ Bop', a more contemporary Quartet featuring American Bassist Tom Hill (CD 'Josies Bosie'). 'Organsolar' a Hammond based Quartet featuring Top Tenor man, Ian Ellis (CD 'Live At Hayne Barton'), and the Dale/Milverton Quartet with Plymouth based Tough Tenor man, Martin Dale (CD 'From Hand To Mouth').

Visit ​Craig's website for more

Al Swainger - Bass

Al Double Bass

​Al Swainger is a musician who happens to be a bassist. Although relocated to Bristol in 2016 he continues to support the Blue Vanguard club as part of the house trio's monthly gigs. He is also a composer, improviser, producer, digital artist and FX enthusiast. His eclectic tastes have led to making music in a wide variety of genres over the years with literally hundreds of musicians. Covering ground from traditional to modern jazz, pop to progressive rock and world music to fully improvised soundsculpture, Al is always keen to explore new musical territory. Currently he is focusing his unique style on twin passion projects Pointless Beauty & Biophosmos.

While both projects embrace both the sonic and visual, Pointless Beauty is the chief vehicle for his own compositions and digital art where Biophosmos is dedicated to exploring and reinterpreting the works of Chick Corea. ​​Pointless Beauty 'After & Before' (featuring Neil Yates, Mike Outram, George Cooper & Mark Whitlam) was released in June 2017 and Biophosmos : the Music of Chick Corea (with Tom Berge, Joe Northwood and Jon Clark) in March 2018.

Other recent projects have included recordings with omnifusion trio Snow Giants – UN (Mike Outram, 05Ric), the Art Trip – The Music of Art Pepper (Alan Barnes, Craig Milverton, Nick Millward), The Gary Bamford Trio - God, Love & Other Myths (Gary Bamford, Rob Brian), Annika Skoogh Quartet - Waters of March (Annika Skoogh, Matt Carter, Coach York), art-rock band GRICE – Alexandrine (featuring Grice, 05Ric, Luca Calabrese, Richard Barbieri, Steve Jansen, Hossam Ramzy, Steve Bingham, B.J.Cole) and Becky Brine's Catharsis (Becky Brine, Jean-Paul Garde, Jon Clark).

As well as his own projects Al continues to perform live regularly with Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen, The Annika Skoogh Quartet, Ed Leaker's Swing Machine, Kick Ass Brass and The Blue Vanguard House Trio.

​Visit alswainger.com for more info

​Coach York - Drums

Coach started playing at school in various prog rock bands, moving on to Art College and discovering funk and jazz. The Northampton scene where he grew up was heavy with R'n'B and trad jazz bands which was a useful training ground. He then served a long apprenticeship grinding up and down the country with some reasonably well-known soul bands. The late seventies and early eighties saw the explosion of the 2-Tone scene in Coventry where he joined the Ska/Reggae band The Army, later The Resistance, sharing studios and promotion with the Specials, Selecter and Bad Manners, with modest success, and recorded a critically-acclaimed album with former members of the Goth band Bauhaus.

Modern jazz has always been a passion, and over the years he has worked extensively with most of the top names on the British Jazz scene, accompanying people like Peter King, Jim Mullen, Bill Le Sage, Don Rendell, Alan Barnes, Iain Ballamy, Mike Outram, Simon Spillett, Roger Beaujolais, Jean Toussaint and many others, along with visiting US musicians like Jimmy Witherspoon, Slim Gaillard and more recently Greg Abate and Benn Clatworthy.

He works regularly with the Craig Milverton Trio, the hard-grooving Organology, and can often be found backing the well-known vocalists Louise Parker, Maggie Reeday and Annika Skoogh, or accompanying the fine sax player Martin Dale.  Also found with Steve Buckley, sax player and penny whistler from Loose Tubes, playing his compositions, and with whom he's had some great moments of free improvisation with Sam Richards and Pat Butterly. He's also the regular drummer in the Mike Westbrook Big Band, which has spawned the Very Small Brass Band featuring Dave Holdsworth on sousaphone.

I've also recently started playing with Jelly Roll - a dynamic blues trio featuring the legendary Julian Piper on guitar and vocals and Craig Milverton on the Viscount organ.

Visit Coach's website for more

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  • Meet the Trio
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Soweto Kinch

Award winning alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes. Undoubtedly, one of the few artists in either genre with a degree in Modern History from Oxford University he has amassed an impressive list of accolades and awards on both sides of the Atlantic – including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, two UMA Awards and a MOBO for best Jazz Act in 2003. In October 2007, he won his second MOBO Award, at the O2 Arena, London where he was announced as the winner in the Best Jazz Act category- fending off stiff competition from the likes of Wynton Marsalis.

His skills as a hip hop MC and producer have also garnered him recognition in the urban music world: having supported the likes of KRS ONE, Dwele and TY, and being championed by the likes of Mos Def, Rodney P and BBC 1-Xtra’s Twin B.

Kinch’s projects also extend beyond recorded albums. Writing the score for Jonzi D’s Hip Hop Theatre production Markus the Sadist (2010), and Sampad’s In The Further Soil (2010), a dance-theatre. Kinch also wrote and acted in the latter piece, which toured throughout India for a month.

Most recently, he has collaborated with the BBC and Drum and Bass producer Goldie. By Royal Appointment is 3-part prime time reality music show, following Goldie, Soweto, Guy Chamber and Ms Dynamite as they discover and coach a group of 12 vulnerable young mentees towards their first live performance before HM Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace. Kinch, describe how the programme (due for transmission on the 23rd February, 2011) really allowed him to extended his work as an curator and mentor, “it was a radically fresh approach to discovering and nurturing new talent, and an antedote to the usual pop formulae and manufactured music.”

The Flyover Show is Soweto’s flagship project. Currently in its 5th year, this groundbreaking daylong, music and arts festival takes place in its unusual setting beneath a motorway flyover in Birmingham. 2011’s years event continued a theme from 2010, celebrating black male icons who’ve been influential in successful in redefining Britishness. Featuring artists as divergent as Goldie, Akala and Omar the festival continues to build on its reputation, bringing world class rostra to an often neglected corner of inner city Birmingham – its previous guests having included Bashy, Ms Dynamite, Janet Kay, Ty, Speech Debelle and Jonzi D to name a few.

Following on from links made during his time in India and South Africa, Soweto is preparing to extend the The Flyover Show concept, globally: taking breakout performances abroad and working with artists from the Dharavi slum of Mumbai and in Johannesburg. The vision and impact of this idea continues to grow, transforming derelict and abandoned spaces into exciting creative spaces, and presenting a new model of urban renewal.

Kinch also continues to curate seasons of The Live Box, a Birmingham based jam session and showcase that has been run from venues across Birmingham for over 9 years. Moreover, he was invited as a special guest curator at the Harrogate Festival 2011.
Soweto’s 2010 release The New Emancipation drew its inspiration from 19th century work songs and early blues, exploring the modern resonances of the emancipation story. From debt/wage slavery, to creative oppression in the music industry and ideas of race in a post-Obama age it combined this rich musical inheritance and revisited it with stellar jazz ensemble and modern hip hop production. Number one on the Rise Best Albums of 2010, the album featured a prestigious international lineup, including Byron Wallen, Justin Brown (US), Eska Mtungwazi, Femi Temowo, Shabaka Hutchings and Harry Brown among others.

The ‘Legend of Mike Smith’ tour sees Soweto Kinch presenting all new material in anticipation of a new album of the same name. The performance draws on Dante and The Seven Deadly sins, telling the tale of a young MC caught in a very modern world of temptation. Featuring a core trio including Karl Rasheed Abel on bass and Shaney Forbes on Drums the subject matter allows Kinch to explore the full breadth of human emotion in Hip Hop and jazz form. It will be touring extensively from February 2013 onwards.

‘I’m really excited about these shows, the stripped trio format allows me more harmonic freedom and space to deliver lyrics. Moreover, I’m excited about integrating new things into the show, such as tenor sax and live looping’ – Soweto Kinch

‘A real tour de force – a contemporary take on The Seven Deadly Sins’. John Fordham – The Guardian ****