Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Morning Jazz fans.

Just a brief note this week.

This Thursday, November 13th, we have the regular Clive Burton Quintet at Hedsor, but with the exception of a guest drummer. Both Martin Hart and Mike Jeffries are unavailable this week and in the drum chair we have someone new to Hedsor. Julian Bown will playing for us. It would be nice if we could provide a bigger audience for him than the one we had last week!! Numbers last week were in the danger zone. To keep live jazz at Hedsor, we need a live audience!!

 The Field of Poppies outside St Clement Danes School yesterday.

Last night was an excellent session at the Marlow Jazz club, and that was with a full house! BUT, Michael has now reduced the number of jazz events at Marlow to one a month. We have run Hedsor jazz every week for 12 years. We have done this with no arts council grants, no local authority support, only the support of local jazz fans. Only your personal attendance will ensure we can carry on every week into another year. We are renowned for being a friendly and open bunch of people, and we are also renowned for being on every week. If you genuinely haven’t tried us before we would be delighted to see you and offer you some really great live jazz.

Assuming the life of Hedsor jazz is as far as December 18th,(I jest, just!), I hope to have tickets available this Thursday for our Christmas Concert. Do make sure you get along to that, and bring your friends too. The line up of star guests should have something for everyone, from singer Gill Cook to vibraphonist Alan Grahame via the trumpet of Stuart Henderson and the saxophones of “Tolly” and Peter Ripper, all wrapped up by our regular Quintet. We retain our big room event price of £10. To give everyone a chance to play we start at 8pm for this one.

That’s it for this week, CD reviews next week.

PS. I attended the Remembrance Day Service at St Clement Danes School yesterday and was amazed by the sight greeting you as you entered their grounds. ALL the poppies were made by the school, and all the students donated £2 each to the British Legion. I believe there were 1366 poppies in the field, one for every school pupil.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Hedsor Jazz this week has the regular Clive Burton Quintet, probably in recovery mode after our Halloween event last week.

To describe Tracey Mendham as a Hoot is an understatement. Anyone who was there will testify that she definitely hooted! The kind gift to her from one of our number of a witches hat was very appropriately worn throughout the evening, and coupled with her red dress gave a very hallowed-en look to her! She is none the less a very accomplished tenor player, with an enormous tone, and I think for everyone there it was a great night out. AND all for just £6 entry.

An additional delight was to having Ken McCarthy at the piano last week. His own feature number of the 3rd movement of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto was a real bonus, and I would imagine had a number of people thinking “where have I heard that before?”

So this week, back to Bop!!

CD’s Listened to

As many of you know most of last week I was touring East Anglia with my wife June, visiting relatives and enjoying mostly warm sunshine and some excellent food. During this tour I played a CD that strictly speaking isn’t  a jazz album at all. But it was one that left me thinking “what a shame that more jazz musicians hadn’t been put with her”. 

The album in question is the new one from Annie Lennox. I have always been a fan of hers. She has a strong voice, and a strong personality to go with it. Her new album is called “Nostalgia” and has her singing tunes like “Georgia on My Mind”, “Summertime”, “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child” all of which are no stranger to the jazz fraternity. The instrumentation is professional, but not particularly jazz orientated, which is a shame as I think she has all the makings of a great jazz singer. The album, for you to check out, is on the Island label.

My second disk, (but not played on the East Anglia tour), is again featuring another lady. This time a jazz pianist called Mary Lou Williams. Mary Lou Williams was an American jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. She wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements, and recorded more than one hundred records. Sadly she died in 1981, leaving a legacy of tunes and arrangements that has been crying out to be played again. And the Dutch Jazz Orchestra has done just that. It is a wonderful big band recording, which means a wonderful recording with a wonderful big band. It also has an advantage over many big band recordings in giving up Hi Fi tunes from the great swing era that you probably haven’t heard before. I do recommend this one. It’s been around since 2005 on Challenge records CR73251.
One final comment. Our tour of East Anglia did have some fine food moments as I mentioned above. One of them (a very upmarket sandwich) we had in the small town/village of Burnham Market, on the North Norfolk coast at an establishment called "the Hoste". My point in mentioning this is that they run jazz evenings. 

Do take a look at the brochure I have attached, and just think. We have had some of Britains top jazz performers at Hedsor, including Tina May for half of the Hoste's £12 added to the bill for the jazz! Our Christmas special, coming very soon on December 18th, will cost you just £10 not £50, and will include a buffet supper. Who will be there? So far booked:- Gill Cook, Alan Grahame, Stuart Henderson  "Tolly" and Peter Ripper! and of course the Clive Burton Quintet! Please put US in your guide book!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

First, just a few lines 

to assure you that Hedsor Jazz WILL be, as usual, on Thursday, at the Hedsor Social Club, with the Clive Burton Quintet.

This week is as usual, but coming in the next 2 weeks we have some blistering sessions!

Next Thursday, October 23rd , we have Britain’s Top Tenor player, Simon Spillett as our guest. He has again been nominated in the 2014 British Jazz Awards, so to vote please visit

AND for your HALLOWEEN experience on October 30th (OK a day early) we have tenor saxophonist Tracey Mendham. She is a wonderful tenor player, and for such a date, a real HOOT!!

Enough frivolity. Both sessions will start at 8.30pm and will only cost you £6 to get in. Free car parking, Rebellion beer, what more could you want? Well, WE want YOUR COMPANY!!

CD’s heard this week.

First up one that fitted in well to a more quiet evenings listening is one called “The London Sessions” by The Tony Barnard Trio. Tony is one of the legendary Australian Jazz Barnards, a third generation Australian musician (his grandfather ran a dance band in the 1920’s, his father Bob is a renowned jazz trumpeter still going strong in his 80’s). This CD is NOT a new relaease (recorded in 1997), but you can probably still find it online (Wave Recordings WAVE 33). It is a very enjoyable listen. Tony is not the only famous name in the trio, as the bass player is Peter Ind and the “other” guitarist is none other than Jim Mullen. Dare I say they “mull” their way through some great tunes (with Jim Mullen on your left!), including “Ornithology”, “St. Thomas” and Charlie Shaver’s “Undecided”. Well worth looking out for if you like guitar jazz.

The second one found this week is a quartet led by Tim Whitehead recorded in 2005 also in London. Tim on tenor sax leads a group of guys I don’t know, and looking at their names I guess they are from the continent. Giovanni Mirabassi on piano, Milo Fell on drums and Oli Hayhurst on bass. It’s great modern bop. Nothing too outlandish or disjointed. Together they swing and individually they solo very nicely.
Tunes include “They Don’t Know What Love Is”, John Lenon’s “Imagine” and my favourite “Ladies in Mercedies”, 9 tunes in all. It’s on the HomeMade Record label HMR 050 and is entitled “Lucky Boys”!

That’s it from me for now, don’t forget to cast your votes in The British Jazz Awards, and even more importantly for the future of jazz COME OUT AND SEE IT SOMETIMES!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

It’s THAT time of week again when I start to think of my blog, and what to write.

This week at Hedsor we will have the normal sized Clive Burton Quintet, with no additions or subtractions in numbers. Normal except that we will have a guest bass player as Ken Rankine is still in Malta and I don't know who has been booked!

It was good to hear one of the Quintet’s old book played for me last week. It is some time since Matt Wates “Stargazer” was played, and although a little rusty (Nigel Fox wasn’t a member of the band when I think it was last played and our guest bass player Steve Pickings hadn’t heard of it) I think the band coped admirably, it was very nice to hear it again. Perhaps we can prevail upon Clive for some more of the older arrangements to be dragged out again.

For those of you who haven't been to Hedsor since it was last played, it is now just £6 to get in, (which includes a raffle ticket) and our music still starts at 8.30pm. All of the music is now played in the Big Room, and we could do with you all coming back to see what that's like!!

Having got the weekly need to say we are still at The Hedsor Social Club, this week I am going to concentrate on my review of Gill Cook’s new CD.

“Morning with You”

After a gap of 7 years since her CD “Something Cool”, it is a delight to be able to write up her latest CD. And, yes, even this release is slightly later than expected (perhaps a ploy to heighten ones expectations?).

Those of you who have listened to her “live” over the intervening years, either at the Ealing Jazz Festival or in a club like Hedsor, will know that she is an accomplished performer, and this is instantly recognisable in her new CD.

The choice of material is a little less “Song Book” than many singers would choose. The songs are from a much wider musical path than many would have risked. Those titles that you have heard other singers perform are given a Gill twist. The openers “Sunday in New York” and “Black Coffee” are performed in such a way as to make you hear the words as though for the first time, you are made to think about their meaning all over again.

The musicians she has chosen to collaborate with on this release (Nick Tomalin Piano, Dominic Howles Bass, and Matt Fishwick Drums) provide a very easy light and lilting accompaniment, and they are enhanced on alternate tracks by trumpet star Steve Waterman who was, like Nick, also on the earlier CD. Steve plays some excellent licks at all the right times! You can see why he is so highly rated.

The first non-standard jazz tune to be sung is Carol King’s “Stand Behind Me”. OK you might have found this one before but I wonder how many jazz fans or singers would find material like Prefab Sprout’s “When Love Breaks Down”.

So a mixture of the unusual and the usual all performed with swing, skill and insight. It leads the listener into the unexpected and into finding music they might never have listened to before. The CD, our vehicle for the journey, has also been very well recorded at London’s “Red Gables Studio”.

Is there a negative side? Yes. It’s a shame that the last track (“If I Were a Bell”) ends in a fade. It had been tapping my feet nicely!

To start your 52 minute journey go find Mainstem Productions MSTCD0058.

Finally I’m just glad I have already booked Gill for Hedsor’s Christmas Party!

Geoff C

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

First Blog of a New Month. Oct 1st 2014

For the first Thursday of a new month we don’t have an extra guest or a front line replacement. But we DO have a fist class deputy as our bass player this week. Ken Rankine, our usual bassist (!?) is on his second away holiday of the season (Malta, where he has an advantage over most of us who have ever gone there in as much as he speaks Maltese) and in his place we have:-

STEVE PICKINGS. A fine bass player and overall hoot!!

who probably speaks Vout!

Last weeks Hedsor Virgin, guitarist Kevin Armstrong, was a fine addition to our “friends of” list. It took a few numbers for him to feel comfortable with “our” regular team, but he played some fine jazz guitar, especially in the last set after the raffle interval. 

Hedsor Jazz is blest in having such a wide choice of guest musicians that are pleased to come and play for us, and we appear to be particularly strong with guitarists. 

In the days of closing venues for jazz music to be played in, I am very proud that Hedsor has been able to provide a quality jazz venue every week for over 13 years. If YOU haven’t yet been there, either as a musician or as a fan, it is only £6 to get in, it is every  Thursday from 8.30 pm and it can be found at The Hedsor Social Club, SL8 5ES.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Mike Wills tells me that the Wikipedia link refers to a DIFFERENT Kevin Armstrong to the one who is coming next week. The Oxford School of Music reverence is correct, as is the photo!!

Geoff C

Today, whilst Scotland votes on if it wishes to continue being a member of the UK, and the rest of the UK have no say in this, purely democratic you understand, we in reachable distance of the Hedsor Social club can vote with our feet for the survival of live jazz!!

Just to encourage you we have a guest coming to fill our piano chair this week. Neither of our regular pianists being available we are delighted to be able to welcome Alan Berry to Hedsor.

Alan used to be the regular pianist with vibes player Lenny Best at The Bell in Maidenhead back in the days when jazz (and I) were there every Tuesday. He has been to Hedsor once before, but I don’t think he has visited us in the larger room. He is now a regular part of the Ealing Jazz Scene.

Now some news for next week. Coming along with our regular reed section (Mike Wills) from Oxford we will have the addition of Kevin Armstrong on guitar.

This will be Kevin’s first visit to Hedsor, so we look forward to giving him a warm welcome. You can easily find out more about him, as he has his own page on Wikipedia!! Also he has a page in the Oxford School of Music web site and you can follow this on the link

We try to keep Hedsor Jazz an interesting place to come to. Not on account of the new chairs! but it would be hard to find music this good for £6!! anywhere else in the UK, and every week too! (next week we may have to add a different reference to what might be left of our country). Our friendly atmosphere is renowned, and as Simon Spillett said during his recent visit to us, there is no other jazz venue anywhere else like it in the UK. He wasn’t cracking a joke at the time either!

You can sample the reality of this and with the music from 8.30 pm every Thursday!! AND you can also park your car for free too!!

CD Listened to.

This week I have been impressed by a jazz CD made by a musician who was largely made famous in a more popular musical field.

Peter York came to fame in the 1960’s as the drummer with the Spencer Davis Group. He then crossed the boundary to Jazz by becoming the drummer with Chris Barber’s Band. He has always been a fan of jazz and of Count Basie and has recently made a very enjoyable CD with some young Continental Friends. 

Called “Basiecally Speaking, the band is imaginatively called “Pete York & Young Friends”! It is released on the ACT label (a German Company) and it follows some of the same ideas as “Wind Machine” in playing well know swing tunes with a modern jazz twist.

The line up includes Hammond organ, guitar and tenor sax, so there are more similarities with Vasilis’s band. However this album reflects some of Peter York’s background by also including a few vocals. It is a great listen, very well recorded, but with slightly too many drum solos to be perfect. Great stuff though, with some great Basie tunes refreshed. Look for ACT Good Time Jazz ACT9101-2

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

An Indian Summer!

OK, so “Autumn Leaves” are upon us, but it is lovely to have a quick burst of Sunshine. Yes, there are number of tunes associated with summer sunshine, it would be showing my age if I had used “You Are My Sunshine” there, as the last time I heard it played by anyone it was guitarist Gary Potter. Mind you he also used to play “Daisy, Daisy”!

It is unlikely, but not impossible, that either tune will be played by the “regular” Clive Burton Quintet this coming Thursday, but you never know!

Yes, this Thursday at The Hedsor Social Club we have the regular band led by Clive Burton on trombone. The musical start time is 8.30 pm, but the bar will be open from at least 7 pm, so come and unwind from “a hard day(‘s night”!!) in the now comfortable surroundings of the Hedsor Club, as the outside signage now tells us it is. Usual charge to get in £6, and you get one of our valued raffle tickets too!

Last week, with Simon Spillett with us after a gap of some months, we had a delightful evening, great tunes and great harmonies, all improvised too! Real Jazz. 

We had a message from our American friends, who joined us at Hedsor Jazz for the Wind Machine evening in August :-

Dinner on the dock in front of our house soon after we got home. It's a bit warmer here as you can see...

Geoff you not only have far better jazz, you also have superior walking trails!

Still in the afterglow from our stay in England.....

Carol Robinson

It seems very strange that Americans have to come to the UK to get to hear real jazz these days!! But they do live in Maine, and are 50 miles from the nearest traffic lights!

A CD Recently Listened to.

As it should be following a quote from an American citizen, this is an American band and is great fun. It’s a sort of manouche plus!! trio called “The Hot Club of Cowtown” and consists of violin, bass and guitar, not unusual for a French, "Django" inspired group. 

The difference is that the violinist is a lady, and she also sings. They are polished players each, and with a very polished group ensemble. It has added enchantment in that the ladies voice is very attractive, and the whole performance conjures up a memory of times past, that may or may not have been more innocent, but in listening to this music it makes you think it was! Don’t you just wish that she was singing for you when you hear “I’m In The Mood For Love”, or “I’d Like to get you on a Slow Boat to China”? And it even has a sunshine song “Sunshine of Your Smile”!!

It’s a delightful CD, very well recorded in Dripping Springs, Texas! 

So search for “Rendezvous in Rhythm” GS004, released in the UK via “Proper” records. It was recorded in 2012.