Monday, July 31, 2006

A few lines of chat, and some reminders of what's on where.

Its been hot, and in some places very wet (Ealing Jazz Festival found out about rain! One of the Marquee roofs split open under a torrent of rainwater), now we have "showers". But through thick and thin, WE HAVE JAZZ!

Tonight, Monday 31st July at The Jolly Woodman in Burnham there is Swing 42.
AND ALSO tonight Monday 31st July at The Cricketers. Horsell, near Woking from 8.30pm Century Jazz plus Simon Spillett

Tomorrow night August 1st at Bourne End Community Centre, Jazz presents Cookhams fabulous Shirtlifters. Traditional jazz at its British best, from 8.30 'till 11, £4 to get in with free raffle, AND nibbles at half time. You know it makes sense to leave the telly behind and see some very live jazz.

Wednesday 2nd August at The Farnham Maltings, The Otis B Driftwood Band extravaganza.
Thursday 3rd August at Hedsor, The Clive Burton Quintet with Mike Wills
Sunday 6th August at Fifield Century Jazz with Mike Wills

For those of you who cant get out to live jazz, and rely on the recorded variety there are a couple of excellent recent releases on offer.

First on my preference list this week is another release by the wonderful Lake Records. Titled "Al Fairweather & Sandy Brown's All Stars" it contains the last of the aboves recordings made for Denis Preston. This shows the Fairweather/Brown ensemble firmly in the mainstream mould, in the company of people such as Tony Coe (on tenor sax) and pianist Brian Lemon.
The music is superb, lightly swinging, with innovative voicings (going blindfold, you can always tell that it is Coe or Brown or Al from any other read or trumpet players by their very own sound). Quality produce from 1962. The other truly amazing thing is that the master tapes for this session, recorded in stereo, were lost, and the reissue has been made from a pristine copy of the LP, which, as sods law would have it, was only ever issued in mono!! The highlight for me of an excellent cd is "Willow Weep For Me" as a Brown solo. (LACD229)

The other easily overlooked release that caught my attention this week is by The Dutch Jazz Orchestra entitled "Rediscovered Music of Mary Lou Williams, The Lady Who Swings The Band" Catchy eh?Recorded in 2005, this is an 19 piece big band that really sound marvellous. All the material is by Mary Lou, much of it originally written in the 1930's. The arrangements were redone in the 40's, 50's and early 60's, and the net result for largely little know material and a little known continental band is magic. Its available on Challenge Records CR73251 and the record companies web site is

Whatever you do, enjoy the jazz, and don't forget to support the live stuff personally before its too late.

Pictures from the cover art of both cd's, and from a recent concert by Alan Barnes with The Martin Hart trio are on the blog

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Music Licensing Law

Music Licensing Law

I’m adding in to my blog this message from pianist Ken McCarthy. You may recall that I for one have referred recently and in the past to the problems associated with the new licensing laws. Ken will keep me informed of news on this “war” front, and I will publish the info via this blog site.

Do agitate to get a better solution to whatever the problem is perceived to be. The current solution is killing live music and making criminals of us all for listening and playing.

Geoff Cronin
NB “Mike” refers to Mike Weinblatt

Hamisch Burchall was at the spearhead of the MU campaign, campaigning tirelessly on TV and in the press, to have the old licensing law changed. For those not in the know:-Till Nov 2005, two musicians could work free in any establishment without the need for an annual council licence, which was an arm and a leg for the landlord - who could then employ from a trio to the LSO for the same price. I recall an event with a trio of mine in South London where one member at a time sat out in the front row to conform with this!So - commonsense dictates that all this was a loss to the arts, employment, the pub industry, etc... Thru 2003 - 2005, the Musicians Union campaigned heavily to parliament for total abolition of the need for a music licence. Remember, a disco with 1000 people in the room needed nothing, yet a piano trio, with all the crowds this would draw in, could present a huge fire (more extinguishers, escapes) and damage risk to the building and neighbouring properties - hence the licence tax. This is the English madness which we've lived with as long as I can remember.Parliament promised to do something in their new licensing act of 2005 which is for all businesses - not just music. Kim Howells is the villain of the piece, being Environment Minister at the time. In spite of all the evidence and sweat by the Hamisch and the MU, Howells lobbied for the abolition of the "two in a bar" exemption so that even a cocktail piano player now needs an entertainment licence, and the new bill came into force last year. This is exactly the opposite of everything that was asked. Many small venues closed for live music overnight. There is supposedly a feedback on the effects of this lasting 12 months which will be reviewed in Nov 06 but don't hold your breath.Hamisch was so distraught he resigned from the MU and is campaigning in a private way, hoping that music audiences will be so outraged they will bombard local MPs demanding action. This could be our last way forward in my opinion.He is collecting all press fragments in order to build his case afresh and welcomes any info back to him about venues and gigs in trouble over this. and it's good to receive his update emails.You say, Mike, that there is an underground campaign to destroy live music in this country. I must say that the longer I play, the more I believe this to be happening. Look at "A Beneficial Impact" dated 25 July (a title that twists the gut!) where no live music in bars equals no trouble, no noise, no neighbour complaints - - - problem solved. Stay at home - watch TV.I will forward my emails received to date and future ones. Ken.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A List of Gigs from

A List of Gigs from Clive Burton, including future details for Fifield and Hedsor

Tomorrow   23rd July     At the Fifield with Century Jazz      Lynn Garner

Thursday July 27th With the Clive Burton Quintet at Hedsor    Simon Spillett

Sunday 30th July at Fifield, there will be a couple of surprise guests, well worth turning out for!

Monday 31st July at The Cricketers. Horsell, near Woking from 8.30pm Century Jazz plus Simon Spillett

Wednesday 2nd August at The Farnham Maltings, The Otis B Driftwood Band extravaganza.

Thursday 3rd August at Hedsor, The Clive Burton Quintet with Mike Wills

Sunday 6th August at Fifield Century Jazz with Mike Wills

Thursday 10th  August at Hedsor The Clive Burton Quintet with Simon Spillett

Sunday 13th August at Fifield Century Jazz plus Al Nichols and Harriet Coleman

On 17th, 20th and 27th  August the band will have Mike Wills as reedman.
(Sundays at Fifield, Thursdays at Hedsor).

On Sunday 24th August the guest will be Simon Spillett

Geoff Cronin
Jazz from Geoff

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Oh yes, this is a blast from the past! It’s a Geoff’s Jazz nag!!

Back from Swanage (See the Festival report at and now sweltering in this summers heat (we are British, we WILL complain about the weather!), I thought it appropriate to nag a bit about events on the live jazz front.

Tomorrow night we have The Clive Burton Quintet at The Hedsor Social Club, 8.30 ‘till 11 ish. The last few weeks have seen a thin on the ground audience and with it being very hot, some discussion is taking place about continuing with this event. I will reiterate, If you don’t come out to support live jazz, it will disappear. The government has already done its best with music prohibition, so just think of yourselves as gangsters and molls and come out discreetly tomorrow night. Knock 3 times on Hedsor Clubs door and pay £3 at the red tin and you will be let in to music and cheep booze!

Sunday, well you could go sailing in the serpentine, but better still go to The Fifield for a bit of Century Jazz. 8 pm ‘till 10.30 pm. This is an event actually paid for by the landlord, who recoups some of his outlay for the price of a raffle ticket. Help to keep it alive!!

Mondays you can catch some live jazz at Burnham’s Jolly Woodman, so if your bag is more traditional, go for it!

Review of the week.

Well, as is now my norm, I will try to fit in 2.

First, a CD that was sent to me because of my recent association with the jazz programs on Cookham Summer FM (now sadly at an end, did YOU listen?).

This is by a group of lady singers called “The Puppini Sisters”, who have recreated the sound of the 1940’s war time harmony groups. Not quite jazz, but a very creditable effort, wonderfully well produced, and definitely in the fun category. They are also very pretty, and dress in period style. How do I know this from the CD? Simple, they have an excellent web site as well. Go and have a look at and you to can see and hear them. There is even a downloadable video of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” which is very pro. You can also sample a few seconds of every one of the tracks from the CD. These tracks include “Mr Sandman”, Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” “Jeepers Creepers” as well as more modern songs like Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” all performed ah la Boswell Sisters or Andrew Sisters. You will soon see where they are coming from. My only criticism is that I’m not sure you will want to listen to a whole CD of very similar materiel, but, as its free to look, do try out there web site and see if you like it.CD No. is UCJ 9857592, again written in print on the sleeve so small you will need a magnifying glass to read it!

The other CD to bring to your attention is one I picked up at Swanage (OK, I did pay for it!), by Steve Waterman called “Stablemates”. This is the music of Benny Golson and Wayne Shorter, and has a different line up for each. The Golson Sessions are by a quintet with Ben Castle tenor sax, Mark Nightingale trombone, Nick Weldon on piano, Andy Cleyndart bass and Clark Tracey drums. A super sound and somewhat reminisant of our own Clive Burton Quintet. The Wayne Shorter tracks are by a quartet with Anthiny Kerr on vibs, Mike Outram gtr, Laurence Cottle bass gtr, and Ian Thomas on drums. This group reminded me of “The Usual Suspects” who used to play for me at The Old Bell. A great CD, available on Mainstream Records as MSTCD 0035 (in print size I can read!).

That’s it for now, the text of this nag, together with cover art will be found later in the day over on my blog.

Have a nice hot day now!!

Geoff C

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Alan Barnes and Tina May

Alan Barnes and Dave Newton

Geoff’s Visit to the Swanage Jazz Festival Part 2

We have reached Sunday Morning (although I don’t think anyone played it!), another bright breezy day. First up was a duo by Dave Newton and Alan Barnes. They have dueted many times before, and although not regular associates, they still have the ability to know what the other person is going to do (They first met when both studied at Leeds). Alan was looking very tired, and was suffering from gout, but he still managed one of his better solos of the weekend during this set.

I had a good ½ hour chat with Dave before the session, whilst we both took the air on the little banjo shaped pier in the middle of the bay. We talked about the difficulties of live jazz and licences these days, and he told me a story from prohibition days told to him by Buddy Tate. When Buddy was playing in, I think Lucky Millender’s Orchestra, they had a residency in a Chicago nightclub. This was owned and frequented by Al Capone. On one occasion he went up to Lucky, asked him to play a request, stuffed a $20 note in his top pocket, and went off with his girlfriend of the time for a “dance” around the club floor. On one of his trips around, towards the end of the tune, he sidled up to Lucky and said “do you know who I am?” to which Lucky replied,
”No Sir, I’ve never seen you before”. “That’s the right answer” said Capone, and stuffed another $20 dollar bill in his top pocket! Try doing that with a local authority music licence vetter!!

After lunch I went down to The Kings Bar, an airless venue, but graced that afternoon by a solo spot from Liane Carroll. Most fans know now what a wonderful singer and piano player she is, but if you still have preconceptions about lady jazz singers, go and hear Liane to have them re-organised!! She is alternately funny, sad, and easy to take on board. A true character and her music can bring me to near tears with its majesty.

After afternoon tea, we had a set by one of my all time favourite lady Jazz Singers, Tina May. Together with Alan Barnes (yes him again), and a rhythm section that just wasn’t in line with their way of playing jazz, we had an edgy set. Still good by anyone’s standards, but it didn’t really work. Matt Skelton is without doubt an excellent drummer, but it sounded like he was backing a riveter! It was also unfortunate that the pianist Liam Noble, who had never worked with Tina before, had the piano setup so that his back was to her the whole time and he couldn’t see her “conducting”.

Finally, all those who had any stamina left went back to the Kings Bar, and saw a set by Liane Carroll and her trio. Not bad, but I thought the afternoon solo set better, and the room was now very hot.

Never mind, if Swanage runs again next year, I’ll be there, because it is the best British Jazz Festival going, and what a setting!



Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Bootleg Eric Band of Dave Newton and Clarke Tracey

Laura Zakian

Simon Spillett

OK, so it’s been a long time since I updated the blog, but all for a very good reason.

First there was the Cookham Summer FM Radio Shows that I was involved in. All great fun. I wonder did any of you listened to ANY of them? Don’t worry if you didnt, all my efforts were recorded, and I will ensure that you will hear them somehow or other!!

The Second reason is that I have been to The Swanage Jazz Festival. And again I thought that it was a real festival of British Jazz. I will admit that this year there was SO much wonderful modern jazz to be heard that I didn’t hear ANY traditional jazz except Dave Brennan’s Marching Band, which did its usual New Orleans style street parade on Saturday Morning.

This year the choices of what to hear were very difficult to make indeed, but the Friday night set one would have thought could not have been bettered. In Marquee 2 (the first one most people came to!) had as a starter the Dorset Youth Jazz Orchestra, who were good in parts (mostly brass parts!), with a good young lady singer and a couple of fun young gentlemen singing together a la Frank Sinatra.

They were followed by some superb musicianship from Steve Waterman’s sextet plus Dave O’Higgins playing Benny Golsen/Wayne Shorter tunes. The interplay between the two aforementioned, plus Anthony Kerr on vibes, Mike Outram guitar, Laurence Cottle elec. bass and Ian Thomas drums was so tingling, you had to pinch yourself to prove it was live!!

Friday night it rained and blew a bit, but Saturday dawned warm and bright, and the superlative jazz carried on with the Spike Wells trio, with phenomenal young piano player Gwilym Simcock astounding everyone. They had the assistance of bass player Malcome Crease.
You may recall that Spike Wells was Tubby Hayes drummer for about 5 years, so it won’t surprise anyone to learn that Simon Spillett joined them in the second set for about an hour of assured playing. He made a real impact on an audience that hadn’t had the advantage of hearing him at The Hedsor Social Club. One of the Swanage Club Members was heard to mention his name as late as Sunday evening as being a really good listening experience!

Saturday also had a set from Laura Zakian, a young lady singer who is beginning to make a name for herself. She seemed a bit nervous, and perhaps wasn’t performing at her best. The Kings Bar (her venue) was always very hot, which didn’t help the pleasurable experience!

She did have great accompaniment with Alan Barnes, Gwilym Simcock, Andrew Cleyndert and Clark Tracey.

Without doubt though, the highlight of the day, and for me of the weekend was the Dave Newton/Clark Tracy Band performing for the first time in public the music from their CD “Bootleg Eric”. It is a real band of British Stars, 90% of whom are now younger than the average audience!! Everyone was blown away by the sheer musical ability of the band, the millisecond timing, the inventive solos and the tremendous swing developed by the rhythm section.

The line up is Guy Barker tpt, Mark Nightingale tmb, Alan Barnes reeds, Don Weller tnr, Julian Segal tnr, Dave Newton pno, Andrew Cleyndert bass and Clark Tracy drums.

That concluded Saturday (what a High to go out on). I didn’t buy the CD (they had run out).

Later in the week I will tell you about the Sunday sessions, and what is on locally in the next few days.

Sad to say Cookham Summer FM is over, thank you to all who took part.


Geoff C