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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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

  • Our Next Guest
  • Meet the Trio
  • ​Podcasts
  • Previous Guests
  • Map

​Craig Milverton - Keys

Pianist Craig Milverton'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 our house 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, 'Outer Planets' a fully improvised ambient album in 2019 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 trios Mahatmosphere - Beautiful Dirt (Mark Lawrence, Marco Anderson) & 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 the Michele Drees Tap Project, WhailTale, Digby Fairweather's Half Dozen, ​Ed Leaker's Swing Machine, Kick Ass Brass and The Blue Vanguard House Trio.

​Visit alswainger.com for more info

​Coach York - Drums

​House drummer Coach York 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.

​He has 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