Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Hedsor Jazz

Sometimes it is easy to write about jazz, and Hedsor Jazz in particular. I still believe that it is a unique place, especially for a local jazz club. Every month, every Thursday, we have the ability to come and listen, in reasonable comfort, despite the chairs, to jazz of a very high quality.

We can come by car, and park for free, or by train, as we are only a short walk from Bourne End Station. We can hear good jazz played by good musicians. And for this we pay the very good price of only £7.

We get excellent guests to bring us a variety of sound. They very often come and play for less than their fare home. They come because they want to come. The quality of our regular band, the warmth of our membership, your warmth and welcome, encourage them to want to be with us at Hedsor Jazz.

I have been writing about who is on, and encouraging you to keep live jazz alive, for a dozen years. And yet sometimes it is difficult to do. This year has been a difficult one for me. I know I am not alone, but sometimes life plays you a bad hand, and this year for me has been one of those years. My own health issues, and the passing of friends, has become a darker issue than sometimes can be shrugged way. Last night, just as I was about to sit down and write this blog I had a phone call from a mobile phone number I didn’t recognise. My immediate reaction was that I didn’t want to talk to another double glazing salesman, especially as I was just starting on my eggs and bacon.

The phone call was to tell me that another close friend had died that morning of a heart attack.

And so this mornings writing is more reflective than usual.

The objective of my evening was now changed. I had others to tell. When I had done this I sat and listened to one of my favourite CDs.

A wonderful recording, a wonderful reflective and contemplative use of words. The singer Catherine Legardh with the pianist Brian Kellock and the CD “Love Still Wears a Smile”. I have mentioned it in this blog before, it was issued by Storyville Records in 2013. It was just right for me.

I followed it for a partial listen to another CD with Brian Kellock, this time with saxophonist Tommy Smith, called "Whispering of the Stars”. If you look at the sleeve reproduction you may see that there is a ballad medley. In 8 minutes they play 11 tunes, and the changes are very cleverly conceived. Some of the tunes would have been better presented in a more complete fashion, but one has to admire the concept!

On the cover of this album are the words to the opening tune “You Must Believe in Spring”. Sometime we don’t take on board the lyrics to popular songs. In jazz, we often don’t get to hear the words at all. But I though the words did just sum up by contemplation, and so I am going to reproduce them below

When lonely feelings chill
The meadows of your mind
Just think if winter comes
Can spring be far behind?

Beneath the deepest snows
The secret of a rose
Is merely that it knows
You must believe in spring

Just as a tree is sure
Its leaves will reappear
It knows its emptiness
Is just the time of year

The frozen mountain dreams
Of April's melting streams
How crystal clear it seems
You must believe in spring

You must believe in love
And trust it's on its way
Just as the sleeping rose
Awaits the kiss of May

So in a world of snow
Of things that come and go
Where what you think you know
You can't be certain of
You must believe in spring and love.

There is hope, life goes on, not always in the same way, but Spring does always follow Winter.

Tomorrow night at Hedsor music will be played, we will chat with friends and be taken away from our day of good or bad, into toe tapping and good company.

To help us on our way tomorrow we have some of our regular Quintet. Clive will play the trombone, Martin will play the drums, John Monney will play the stick (sorry) bass!! But to help it all along we will have Ken McCarthy on keyboard, and Duncan Lamont junior on tenor sax.

So, if your feeling ever so slightly down, come along tomorrow for some Hedsor Jazz therapy!!

Geoff C

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another short blog today

Always trying to fit life around the writing does mean that just sometimes what I write does sometimes become "compact"!

This week at Hedsor Jazz I understand that we welcome back from the far East, our wonderful sax section Mike Wills. 

Over the past 3 weeks during Mike absence we have been entertained by 3 wonderful guests, sadly sometimes without the quintet leader himself, who has suffered a nasty cold/flu like bug. However this week, he will be back!

Also this week, I too will be back! I'm very sorry to have been forced to miss Max Brittain, but unfortunately an infection of a different kind kept me away.

So this week will be something to savour!

Last Sunday many of us payed tribute to Ken Rankine at Cores End Church. The event, sad though its cause, was well attended, and was filled with, as promised, words and music, and also with laughter. If any of you would like to hear the content of the event, I have posted my recording of it on my DropBox account:-
The sound does go up and down a bit, but it is ALL there. Do feel free to download and listen.

Hopefully we can all now put sadness and illness behind us and look forward to Christmas (well I still do, but I may still be that small child inside really). Our Christmas Party at Hedsor is on December 22nd, with at least 2 special gusts so far, trombone star Roy Williams, and Barbadian singer Judy Vaughn.

For now then it's TTFN.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sorry for this late posting, but life does sometimes get in the way of Hedsor Jazz!

BUT Hedsor Jazz this week will again be without our regular sax section, Mike Wills still being away. However we do have the services of trumpet and flugel horn player Lester Brown.

Clive is still having a problem getting over his cold flu-like bug but is still hoping to be with us tomorrow for a double brass front line!

I must praise last weeks guest Simon Spillett. He performed an excellent job for us, especially as he had to occupy the front line all on his own, Clive being unwell. It gave us an opportunity to fully appreciate his big sound, no PA being available without Clive or Mike. But it was a memorable set, thank you Simon. In a room the size of Hedsor, and a sax sound like Simon’s, no PA made no difference!! It did of course make announcements slightly more difficult and shorter, and the raffle certainly got speeded up!!

I have spent some time this week putting together the program for our Tribute to Ken Rankine in Words and Music to be performed at Cores End Church (post code SL8 5HZ) on Sunday 27th November at 3pm.

The music will be provided by Clive on trombone, with Robert Goodhew on tenor sax, Ken McCarthy on keyboard, John Monney on bass and Martin Hart on drums, with Gill Cook singing a couple of songs as well. 
Do come along. No charge will be made for entry, and light refreshments will be provided afterwards. We will however take up a retiring collection for The British Heart Foundation, an organisation that Ken actively supported.

Next week we have a welcome return of guitarist Max Brittain. He hasn't been able to get to Hedsor for a time, but he will be back with us next week.
Max at Hedsor in 2010
Don’t forget our Christmas Party on December 22nd. Tickets (£12 each including buffet) will be available tomorrow at Hedsor.

Yes Hedsor Jazz, at the Hedsor Social Club, is regular, and weekly, even in winter. So do keep supporting live jazz, and keep coming yourselves. Tell your friends, and we will be able to  carry on for another year!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Hedsor and All That Jazz

There are advantages and disadvantages when regular members of Clive Burton’s Quintet decide to take a holiday (even those done at the Queens expense) and for the next few weeks whilst our regular reed section Mike Wills tries to restart the Vietnam War we have 3 guests to keep you entertained.

This Thursday, November 10th , that wonderful friend of Hedsor Jazz Simon Spillett is bringing his tenor saxophone to keep Clive in his place.

On Thursday November 17th we have trumpet and flugel horn player Lester Brown coming. He was last at Hedsor on May 30th 2015, and sadly on that occasion I missed him. (Yes, the railings eventually caught up with me, but that’s community service for you). I hope you will join me in listening to him, this time alongside Clive instead of in place of him.

Then on Thursday November 24th we have guitarist Max Brittain. It is a while since he was at Hedsor, but this will be a night not to be missed. Just take a look at his website and you will see what we have all been missing :-

Last Friday a number of us travelled to Portland to say Goodbye to Ken Rankine. It was a sad day, sweetened as all similar events are, by the social contact with friends and family after the internment. 

A more local event is taking place on November 27th for all who would like to remember Ken. At Cores End Church a Tribute in Words and Music will be performed from 3pm. All are welcome. There will be no charge for entry, but we will give you the opportunity of donating to one of Ken’s supported charities (The British Heart Foundation). Please do come along. The words and the music will all be live and you will recognise many of the performers. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

This week at Hedsor Jazz will be slightly different. 

A number of us are going to Portland on Thursday for Ken Rankine’s Funeral on Friday, details of which are further down the page.

So, the unusual line-up for this Thursday at Hedsor will be :-

Our stalwart reed section Mike Wills, our ever so stalwart drummer (back from a short stay in a destination of his choice) Martin Hart, our regular keyboard player Nigel Fox.

But with them will be a bass player of fame, Andy Crowdey 

PLUS another great string player, guitarist John Coverdale

Andy has not played for us before at Hedsor, I do hope we can all get to hear him at some time in the not too distant future, John of course is a regular guest at Hedsor Jazz.

It should be a different and interesting sound. Sadly, I will be one of those not there, but I do hope many of you go along to make up the missing numbers.

For those who are going to travel to Portland, details of Ken’s funeral are:-

Friday 4th November 2016

11am  service at All Saint’s Church,  1 Straits, Easton, Portland, Dorset, DRT5 1HG

There is a small car park or you can park at Tesco’s car park off Easton Square – permission is granted

12pm   burial    Portland Cemetery, Weston Road, Portland, which is next to St. George’s Church  (church address, at top of Reforne and on Wide Street, DT5 2JP . If preferred not to go to the burial, you can go directly to the blues club:-

after,  Portland Blues Football Club, New Grove Corner, Grove Road, Portland, DT5 1DP

there is plenty of parking in football club car park

Any donations to the British Heart Foundation which Ken helped with. Donations can be given on the day to the funeral director, or sent to their office  Rose Funeral Service, 23 Shrubbery Lane, Wyke Regis, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 9LY  tel 01305 785832 or donations can be made on line to the head office of the British Heart Foundation. If preferred donations can be made to any cancer charity.

For those who are unable to go to Portland there will be 2 other events to enable you to pay tribute to Ken.

The first will be at Cores End Church
The second will be at The Drayton Court Hotel, 2 The Avenue, Ealing, London, W13 8PH and will be organised by Dick Esmond, organiser of the Sound of Seventeen Big Band that Ken was the bass player for since it started. It will be on the evening of Wednesday November 30th

If travelling take care, and until we meet again


Geoff C

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hedsor Jazz meets again this week, but with no extra guests like last week. Only our regular deputy drummer Mike Jeffries appearing in place of Martin Hart.

Our new entry fee of £7 lets you in at our old start time of 8.30pm. Good music and good company will then follow, as is usual for a Hedsor Thursday.

Last weeks session with guests, saxophonist Robert Goodhew and singer Judy Vaughn, was one of our really special nights at Hedsor, something a Hedsor evening can sometimes spring upon you. So don’t stay at home thinking you have heard the band before. Come and hear them again (and again and again) as you never know when the magic will take place.

Judy I had not heard before, and an accomplished singer she really is, singing songs of a slightly 1940’s vain, whilst Robert is improving all the time. In my view he is someone who needs to be kept an eye on. (As probably does his new young 2-month-old addition to the family! Congratulations to Robert and Anna).

I have done a bit more copying of tapes to CD this month in order to make them more accessible here in Cronin Towers, (yes I had to go into the loft to find some of them), but the CD that has delighted me most this week has been one that I had had half of before!!

Duke Ellington was the author of the remark and the tune “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Aint Got That Swing”, and he knew how to make a big band swing, and of the musical elements you need to make the big band in the first place. He had a number of key musicians in his orchestra that helped to give that Ellington sound and one of those was alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges.

I was a dedicated trad jazz man in the late 40’s early 50’s, and Johnny Hodges was the man and sound that won me over to liking and “tolerating” the saxophone, followed closely nearer to home by Bruce Turner.

I have had the LP of “everybody knows JOHNNY HODGES” since 1965. It is a wonderful album of Ellingtonian musicians, but NOT under the leadership of the Duke! Slightly different arrangements are played of “The Jeep is Jumpin’”, “Main Stem” and “Open Mike”, but the CD that came my way this week (first released as such in 1992) has added to it music from another LP that was recorded under the leadership of Laurence Brown, Dukes trombonist. Recorded a year later (as “Inspired Abandon”) it does have mostly the same Ellington musicians, but with a few variations, and again the tunes are slightly rearranged Ellington standards. Its just as good as the first LP, and as I didn’t have the original LP, so what a bonus! This excellent combination of music and musicians was issued still as “everybody knows JOHNNY HODGES” on the GRP label  GRP11162. The artwork on the front is as the first LP, so you may well have passed it over if you had seen the reissued CD in a shop (obviously I am talking of the past, there are very few shops selling CD’s any more). Don’t let it escape now!


Geoff C

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This coming week at Hedsor Jazz has a very exciting prospect indeed

Yes, our regular band (now with John Monney as our bass player) is good, and last week (my first for weeks) they were exceptionally good (or does absence make the heart grow fonder?). But on the Thursdays where painting railings (a good community service thing to do) takes one of our regular players away, something a bit different can titillate the ear buds!! And this week it will excite!

Barbadian singer Judy Vaughn will be singing for us.

I managed to miss her last time she was at Hedsor (Yes, I was in hospital), but I know from a number of you how much you enjoyed her singing. 

We also have, just to keep Clive company at the front, and to add to the harmonies, that wonderfully toned young saxophonist Robert Goodhew (

One final personnel change this week (for another painter of railings and photographer, Martin Hart), is Mike Jeffries who will be our drummer this week.

We had a good crowd last week, and I didn’t get the chance to meet the new ones, so I do hope you all come again this Thursday for our new entry fee of only £7. 8.30pm start, bar open from 7pm

This week on my home stereo I have been busy listening to some old cassette tapes, and dubbing them into MP3 format to make it easier to listen again in the future. It made me realise what a rich musical heritage we have. Music created years ago can be played at home almost as though the performers were with you now.

I have checked on line, and I don’t think Tommy Smith playing “STANDARDS” is available new now. It comes from 1991, and was recorded by him in Oslo. I have had it on cassette tape from a about 1991, and it is timeless playing. With him are Neils Lan Doky on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Ian Froman on drums. It is clean, melodic, modern jazz. I am delighted to have liberated the tape. The tunes include “Star Eyes”, “Speak Low”, “Night and Day”, “You’ve Changed” and 10 others. Do search it out, try the charity shops, but watch what you pay for it. I did notice one online shop asking over £40 for it!

The next buried treasure released from my cassette archives goes back slightly further to 1966/7. Benny Goodman recorded at a set of live performances in The Rainbow Room, part, according to my cassette, of Yale University’s Music Library. As well as BG it has some remarkable musicians alongside him. Zoot Sims, Joe Newman, George Duvivier in 1967, and Herbie Hancock and Less Span from 1966. The earlier tracks also have a singer, Annette Saunders, who is “OK”, which probably dams her with faint praise! The 67 tracks are however a great listen.

My last listen from off tape came to me very recently already on CD! Our regular drummer, Martin Hart, as a young man in the mid 1960’s played with a band called “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and although not on this recording, he is listed as a member of that band on their web site. The band evolved in the 60’s to become Fleetwood Mac. This CD is from tapes that were kind of bootlegged, being recorded very much live in various clubs in 1967 on a punters reel to reel machine. The band as recorded includes guitarist Peter Green, with John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums. John Mayel sings and plays an Organ.

Yes, I did hear them in the 1960’s, and was only talking with Martin about that band a week before I went into hospital. The CD landed on my mat for me to hear when I came out. It has a really snappy title of “John Mayell’s Bluesbreakers Live in 1967” and can be found on Forty Below Records FBR 013