Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another of Geoff’s Gentle Reminders

To let you all know that Max Britain is our guest at Hedsor tonight, alongside intrepid mariner (and trombone player) Clive Burton and his landlubber friends. As usual proceedings start at 8.30pm; we will ask £3 of you to get in and probably a raffle ticket purchase for you to get out.

Sunday at Fifield the guest will be Pete Towndrow on trumpet and flugelhorn.

BBC Rising Star, Simon Spillett

A little advanced warning for all you modern jazz sax fans, on August 2nd we have BBC Rising Star award winner Simon Spillett with us at Hedsor, and on August 8th at The Thame Snooker Hall Peter King will be playing. See the attached file for more info.
"Wed 8th August 07 Concert Jazz Presents – The Peter King Trio – Concert Jazz Club, - Excellent Venue and BarsSt Andrews Court,Wellington St.
Thame, OX9 3WTUK World Class Sax Supremo - Featuring:-Peter - Alto Saxophone - Keith Michael - Drums Nick Kacal - Bass." For even more detailed info go to :-
I think it would be dangerous to my health to attend any jazz on that night, as it will be my 48th wedding anniversary!!

And as I know the rain is wetting all bar your musical appetites, on August 23rd, that wonderful young Greek saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulis is joining Clive’s team at Hedsor for an evenings.

I hope to see many of you there tonight, remember that the Hedsor Road is only accessible from the Cliveden side, diversion signs are in place, but careful navigation is still required. The River by the way hasn’t yet burst its banks, so you should be able to get there without any trouble.


Geoff Cronin

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Swanage Jazz festival Part 4

So, we have survived the shipwreck (in my case by going no where near the ship!), been disappointed occasionally with music and food (but not the beer!), and we eventually come to SUNDAY MORNING (another good tune).

And for me the best session of the weekend. Bruce Adams-Alan Barnes Quintet in Marquee 2. Never was an hour and 20 minutes lost so quickly! How do they do it so well after a night before (they both did appear to be on pints of water!). Wonderful ensemble playing, tied together by an invisible umbilical cord, the music and the common understanding was as one. Again, at this distance I think it was Dave Newton on piano, not John Donaldson as in the program, but the overall effect was just stunning, and my memory isn’t!

After that it just had to be sausages and chips!! Followed by a short listen to Robert Fowler, Karen Sharp and Lennart Anderson. Good, but anticlimactic after the morning session.

I then trekked to Marquee 3, and was rewarded by a lovely set from Anita Wardell, who was definitely accompanied by Robin Aspland. I am very pleased to see that she is getting a little more appreciation from the critics (and the punters), because she is a fine singer, creating a good rapport with her audience, and with her accompanying musicians. I first saw her at Swanage about 10 years ago, and she was desperately trying to sell her CD outside the Victoria Club in the dark, during an Alan Barnes Set. I didn’t take pity, but I did by her cd, and have never regretted it. A class act.

Another lovely dinner with my friends from Staffordshire was a fitting interlude before the closing session with Lianne Carrol. A great singer and entertainer, summoning up magic with voice and piano. Also on her bill was BBC Award winner singer Ian Shaw. I personally find his style a bit difficult to swallow, but there you go, we cant all like the same things.

Which is what makes The Swanage Jazz Festival a great event. A mix of musical styles, set in a wonderful landscape, with alternative things to do if you get tired of the jazz (like going on a steam train!).

One last memory of this years festival. As always, it is a great place to meet (and drink) with friends from different parts of the country. One friend, listening with me during the Lianne Carrol set, become aware of his thirst at about the same time as the bar ran out of beer!! BUT, the trad tent next door still had some, so this brave soul offered to buy me, another friend, and himself, a drink from next door. So, out into the dark the intrepid jazz fan went, retuning a few minutes later with 2 pints of the brown foaming stuff. “Where’s yours” we both ask. “I’ve got to go back for mine, I didn’t want to risk carrying 3 pints in the dark!” What a hero.

One last last thought. On Monday I took another stroll along the pier. Many of you will know that this Victorian pier has been refurbished and restored in the last few years and funds have been raised by people sponsoring a plank on the pier itself. Complete with brass plaque, it’s offered for a donation of £40. On Monday a mature gentleman was busy putting new plaques into place. I told him that he appeared to have a job for life, and he agreed that the task would see him out. He not only puts them into place, he engraves them all himself, AND he has routed out the recesses for the plates to go in. In all so far he has done 60,000!! Think about that the next time you walk his planks!


Don’t forget to support live jazz locally, because we all need to keep the music alive.

Geoff Cronin


Friday, July 20, 2007

The Swanage Jazz Festival Part 3

Having eventually digested lunch my next musical experience was to hear an hour of Andy Coopers Top Eight. Some of you will remember that Andy was the clarinet player with Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen, and is famous for his rendition of “I wanna be like you” otherwise known as “I’m the King of the Jungle”. The Top Eight were really some very good mainstream musicians, including John Barnes (soon to be a guest of ours again at Fifield) with Ian Bateman on trombone, and Enrico Tomasso on trumpet. An excellent band. My only disappointment with this set was that I only got an hour of it!

Next was a quick look at Carol Sudhalter again, this time with Greg Abate on alto.
Then it was time for proper food!! One of the wonderful things about this years jazz festival for me was that the nurse who looked after me when I collapsed at the festival 6 years ago, came down from Staffordshire with her husband to be with me again this year, and I had a couple of very enjoyable meals with them both. This one was the steak!!

That evening I saw singer Liz Fletcher with Dave Newton on piano (I think, it might have been Robin Aspland, my memory isn’t up to scratch on that, because I did see both pianists over the weekend), but again, I felt disappointed by the event. I thought she wasn’t at her best.

The main event of my evening was to add moral support to Mike Wills, who was playing in a 2 reed led band, with guitarist Dave Moorwood called “Dave Moorwood’s Rascals of Rhythm”. The initial set was ruined by disastrous sound balance, the middle set was better, and the audience reappeared (they had voted with their feet!), and the final set was very entertaining. In amongst the rascals was a large American lady singer named Susan Valliant Spear (surely a name made up from out of a war game). Said lady was definitely a hit. She made three appearances, and each time in a different glam dress. Definitely one cast in a Sophie Tucker mould, she really did add a large dollop of glamour to the evening. My favourite comment about her came from her own lips. Just appearing in a glittering red dress, with all the trimming brought a great cheer from the crowd, whereupon she said, “Well if you cant hide it, flaunt it!” And so she did! Mike, as usual, was the star player, and I am really looking forward to getting him back with us towards the end of August.

And so to bed, to be refreshed for another day of wall to wall JAZZ. And you dear readers can get ready for part 4.


Geoff C

The Swanage Jazz Festival, Part 2

I put out the photos as part 1 of my blog, and as part 2 will also go as an email I have not added them here, so do go to

for the pictures.

The Music I Heard

My music started on Friday evening, but some of our number went on a boat ride round the bay in the afternoon, accompanied by Tim Eyles and His Gentlemen of Jazz, which included a well know trombone player (Clive Burton).

During this voyage, I stayed on dry land, BUT a friend sent me a text message, which I took to be a leg pull. It said, and I quote, “Big fright, the boat grounded on rocks near the needles (in fact Old Harry, Ed). Were off it now but very frightening and people panicked. We stayed near the lifeboats. Horrid for a while. Band playing again now.”

When next I met with my correspondent, I asked if the band then went on to play “The devil will drag you under by the silk lapels of your chequered coat, sit down, sit down……………..your rocking the boat”. Apparently they didn’t, but I now know what request to ask for next at Hedsor!

My first musical contact on Friday was at The Conservative Club, just to check for ½ hour that the Gentlemen of Jazz were safe, (if somewhat tired!) and then I went on to Marquee 3 for Rob Koral on guitar, with both Sue Hawker and Zoe Schwarz as vocalists. This was somewhat disappointing. Rob is a fine guitarist, and Zoe a good singer, but as a combo it didn’t work.

Next up in Marque 3 was The Alan Barnes Quartet with an American Tenor player Carol Sudhalter. This was an interesting set, as Alan was a far superior player, and although Carol was good, she didn’t really rise to the challenge. Someone staying in the same hotel as Carol has told me she did wonder why her agent had booked her to play with such amazing players. And Alan and his quartet are pretty amazing (John Donaldson on piano especially so). So a pretty good start to the festival, but not ground breaking (except for that boat!).


Cooked breakfast and conversation (“who did you see last night”!) over, and we have a traditional New Orleans parade around the town, led by Dave Brennan’s Heritage Jazz Band led by marshal Jeff Gilpin, complete with whistle and umbrella. A colourful and lively event, somewhat alien I feel for the UK, but everyone was having fun. Dave’s Drummer (Terry Kennedy) had been a founding member of Dave’s Jubilee Jazz Band (who played at various venues throughout the weekend) shone through (because he was by far the biggest bloke there, and he has the most amazing bald head). This weekend was his last appearance with Dave, as after 51 years of continuous service with the band he has called it a day, leaving his brother Mick still playing bass for them.

Then some more traditional jazz in Marquee 1 from The Budapest Ragtime Band. Initially impressive, playing straight off 2 rag tunes in very original pre jazz style, complete with violin. Musically they were very accomplished, and we all thought we were in for a treat. Then unfortunately they descended into vaudeville, putting on silly hats, and playing various operatic titles (including the William Tell Overture). All very slick, with great musicianship, but it wasn’t jazz. Even die hard trad fans were complaining!

I then jumped tent, and moved to a committee room (True, but a big one) in the Mowlem Centre and heard ½ hour of wonderful modern jazz that swung like mad and had us all clapping, from a young lady called Charlotte Glasson and her Quintet. She played reeds, and was accompanied by a young trombonist (very Gary Valente) a less young tuba player, and a guitarist, and a drummer. Look out for this young lady, I think she will go far. A great sound.

Following on at the same venue was Steve Kaldestad on tenor, with Colin Oxley on guitar, and with the added saxophone of Swedish tenor man Lennart Anderson. Again, a session full of promise, but somehow it didn’t gel for me. I am beginning to realise that we are very spoilt locally. The jazz we put on at Hedsor and Fifield is of a VERY high standard, and we have tended to take it all for granted.

After all the mornings exertion on my part, I took a break for fish and chips, and there for now I will leave you, digesting the fat. Another instalment will come your way very soon (as I found after the fish and chips)!


Geoff C

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What you can do with a broken building
Alan BArnes and Dave Newton
Anita Wardell
Susan Valliant Spear
Bruce Adams
Carol Sudhalter and Greg Abate
Our Very Own Mike Wills!
Andy Coopers Top Eight
A Rather Dejected Looking Carol Sudhalter
The Budapest Ragtime Band
Colin Oxley and Lennart Anderson
Zoe Schwarz
The Parade
The 2007 Swanage Jazz Festival

I intend to write 2 blog bits about the Swanage Jazz Festival, but this first one is really there to get the pictures up. I will write my appreciation of the music at a later time. But for now (as Lynn Garner will sing), I hope you enjoy the photos. Due to some quirk of the blog software, although they are nearly in time order, the oldest ones are at the bottom!!


Geoff C

Who must add to this initial revue my congratulations to Simon Spillet, who over the weekend gained the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards Rising Star award. Well done! At least the BBC got that right!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I have taken the unusual step of attaching a document of all the gigs run by Clive Burton for Hedsor and Fifield for all of July and most of August, together with potted (or even potty) thumbnails of the guest musicians involved.

I have done this for 2 reasons. The first is that you may like to print it off and pin it up to visibly remind you of the events so you can encourage yourselves to turn out! We do need your support! (If you would like to be sent a pdf file of the document for better/larger printing, contact me by

The Second reason is that you might like to print it off and show it to some of your friends. It will help you to prove to them that we are putting on class acts at these gigs, and you could persuad THEM to turn out! Hedsor is in fact a bit of a phenomena, it is one of the smallest clubs in the UK, but with a fan base of Musicians who want to come and play there.

Especially exciting is the fact that we have persuaded Vasilis Xenopoulos to become one of them! Anyone who heard him on my first Monday guitar jazz night will need no second prompting to come on August 23rd, and you will be encouraged to know that he will also be turning out again on Monday September 17th with James Fenn, and a band that might well now be called after their CD "The Bureau of Missing Persons".

So, I wont rabbit on anymore this week. I'll see you at a gig near me soon!


Geoff C