BANDLEADER Digby Fairweather eats, breathes and sleeps jazz.

When he is not gigging with his Half Dozen he runs the United Kingdom’s first jazz centre aimed at preserving and promoting this musical genre.

It is based at Southend-on-Sea where Digby was for many years a librarian before opening a new chapter in his life and becoming a full time musician.

Among the stand out memorabilia is Louis Armstrong’s special trumpet, the Humphrey Lyttelton collection and Sir John Dankworth’s first piano.

Eastleigh’s Concorde Club, where jazz greats from both sides of the pond have played, has become a favourite stamping ground for Digby Fairweather’s award winning Half Dozen.

This multi-talented ensemble of musicians served up an intoxicating cocktail of jazz, blues and swing.

Formed in 1995, the band toured and recorded for five years with jazz legend George Melly before joining forces with Hampshire born blues star Paul Jones, frontman of The Manfreds.

The Half Dozen are serial winners of the Top Small Group category in the British Jazz Awards which has been staged at the Stoneham Lane club.

And it is easy to see why after this master class in clarinet/saxophone, trombone, piano, guitar, trumpet/cornet, double bass, and drums.

Digby masterfully led his band through two sets of jazz classics featuring timeless sounds of Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin.

The medley included a rousing rendition of This Could Be The Start of Something Big, a popular 1956 Steve Allen composition and I’ll Be Seeing You from forces sweetheart Vera Lynn’s song book.

That legendary and much celebrated American bandleader Glen Miller was saluted with a magnificent interpretation of Serenade in Blue.

There was also a tribute to another star bandleader the late Kenny Ball, who appeared many times at The Concorde. Kenny’s huge hit, I Love You Samantha always get the audience in toe tapping mood

The Half Dozen whisked us off to the movies with a composition from The Sound of The Music.

There was also a jazzed up version of American pop idol Brenda Lee’s sixties hit Speak To Me Pretty.

Julian Marc Stringle (clarinet/saxophone ) Craig Milverton (piano ) and guitarist Dominic Ashworth were among the outstanding performances from a group of musicians who have also played with a galaxy of rock stars from Robbie Williams to Sir Cliff Richard.

Duncan Eaton