An experimental mix of experienced jazz musicians and young talents with new ideas will begin a regular free concert spot in the midst of a new development on Sunday.
Bermondsey Square Jazz Days 2018, which starts on Sunday between 1pm and 4pm, will take place on the first Sunday of every month throughout the summer, ending on September 2.
The square, formerly known as The Court Yard, is steeped in Southwark history – it is the site of The Bermondsey Abbey which stood there between 1082-1538, founded as a priory of the order of Cluny.
It has been developed as a public space, completed in 2008 at a cost £600million, with apartments, offices, restaurants, a boutique 100-room hotel, an independent cinema and outdoor market.
The Bermondsey Square Jazz Days will be free public events with voluntary bucket donations raised to support The Unity Music Arts Trust production costs.
Each Sunday, the final set will feature a spontaneous jam session of invited like-minded guest musicians and singers.
Creative director Stephen Pierre has been a musician and singer for more than 30 years. Born and raised in Blackpool, he moved to London in 1996 to train professionally at the London School of Musical Theatre, then based at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End.
He retired from full-time performing in 2008 and now works part-time as a vocal coach, and during the past decade has concentrated on developing his interest in jazz.
He now works alongside different musicians at functions and gigs in the south-east.
Stephen Pierre & The Jazz Collective features many of the graduates and final year students from London’s leading music conservatoires.
He also created The Blackpool Jazz & Blues Weekend, now a popular annual outdoor event supported by Blackpool BID, with proceeds donated to the local hospice.
He said: “I have lived in Southwark for many years. The area has a lot of creative talent. Bermondsey in particular has seen a lot of changes over the past 20 years.”
He applied for the Neighbourhood Community Funding Scheme, advertised last year by Southwark council, and set up a small non-profit community group called The Unity Music Arts Trust (UMAT) to run it.
He added: “The Bermondsey Square Jazz Days have received support from the town hall and received a neighbourhood funding award of £1,200. This bursary will go to support the production costs of equipment hire, insurance, marketing and musicians’ expenses .
“The Bermondsey Square Jazz Days will present various genres of jazz on the first Sunday of each month – the first set will be my own line-up The Jazz Collective. The second set will feature youth music development.”
Each month a different youthful ensemble will be offered a 45-minute showcase slot – this Sunday it will welcome several members of Tomorrow’s Warriors who were founded by bassist Gary Crosby.
For the final set, Mr Pierre will host a spontaneous jazz jam session.
He added: “Simply put, it is a music exchange of invited musicians to play together and showcase their creativity
“Bermondsey Square is the ideal location to present the jazz days during the summer months because of its history.
“I approached several officials at Southwark council about my idea and they kindly advised me to set-up a non-profit
community organisation to apply for the funding.
“With the kind support of art curator Nolia Devlin, of Nolias Gallery, I formed The Unity Music Arts Trust (UMAT) with an aim to promote aspiring creative talent, culture and support good causes.
“Southwark council have been very supportive with my endeavours to create The Bermondsey Jazz Days. In equal measure,
“I’m very grateful to have received the positive interest already shown from several ward councillors and officers.”
The Bermondsey Square Jazz Days from 1pm-4pm will feature a set from his own line up Stephen Pierre & The Jazz Collective.