Saturday, November 22, 2008



Last Thursday we had a super session from our regular band at Hedsor, which makes us all realize how good they all are, playing difficult arrangements off the top of their heads without prior rehearsal. Their harmonies in the ensemble were admirable, and the individual solos just showed what imaginative musicians we have playing for us on a regular basis. OK, so we had to show the odd yellow card, but what the ....anyway!

Next Thursday our advertised guest, Al Nicholls, will not be able to be with us, he is getting a proper fee elsewhere. This is disappointing as it has been some time since he last played a Hedsor Thursday for us.

In his place however we have veteran saxophonist John Rolls. His broad tone and ballad playing ability should recommend him to many of you, who I know, are his fans.

More News on The Christmas Concert front.

A number of our musician friends have now said they will try and put in an appearance on Thursday 11th December. Obviously, if properly paid jobs appear for them, they may not decide to come, but, BBC Jazz Rising Star saxophonist Simon Spillett has definitely agreed to be our guest, and the following have been invited, and will come if they can:-

Vasilis Zenopoulos a young saxophonist with a love for swing music, John Coverdale, a great guitarist, who we are fortunate to see at Hedsor quite often (but never too often), Peter O'Brian is another great guitarist, who hasn't been lately because other people have paid him more money than we have (not difficult!), Stuart Henderson, a trumpet legend, whom I have never yet seen (hence the legend status, everyone tells me how good he is!). I am sure more will drop in, as Hedsor is becoming know amongst a wider circle of musicians as a great place to play.

So, why don't YOU come to the party too. Tickets are still available from me, or from The Stationery Depot in Cookham Rise, 01628 531178 price £10 each. It really should be a night to remember.

One last mention, That Legend, Stuart Henderson, is playing The Fifield Inn this coming Sunday. Yes that's right, tomorrow night!

Geoff C

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another week, where there is doom and gloom on the financial front, and reflections of mans inhumanity to man become very apparent, and where it is all seemingly supported by the weather.

So is life all grey and drab? No, not with the prospect of Jazz at Hedsor to look forward to, and with recorded music from the past to sustain you on your journey to Thursday.

This week, we have at Hedsor, for the second week running, our own star saxophone section, Mike Wills, coming to play for us with Clive Burton's regular quintet. So swing and melody will be along, with “The Goof and I” even! It all starts at 8.30 pm as usual, and will cost you £5 to get in.

On Sunday at Fifield, trumpet man Stuart Henderson will be Clive’s star guest. I have managed to miss him every time he has played, and have kicked myself every time for doing so too! Free entry, but buy a raffle ticket if you want to leave with the 2 working arms you came in with.

On Thursday 27th November, our guest at Hedsor will be saxophone star Al Nicholls. It’s been too long since we saw him last, and I’m sure his brand of booting swinging tenor sax will appeal to all jazz fans.

Coming up on the near horizon (December 11th) is Hedsor Jazz’s Christmas Party. Tickets are beginning to sell, so if you want to party with us, (and it should be great fun, with many guest musicians, AND some food to nibble at at half time), then get a ticket soon. They are only £10, and you can get them from me or from the Stationary Depot in Cookham.

So, there is the hope for the future, to drag you through the drab, but I have listened to a couple of CD’s this week that should give you instant sunshine until your next fix of live jazz.

Many of you will know that British pianist Brian Lemon has had to give up playing due to arthritis in his hands. He has of course left us a great legacy with his many recordings, and some of them are only now being released.

“Love Walked In” is the title of an album recorded in 2001, with just 4 musicians on it. As they are playing Gershwin, you know the tunes will be good, but alongside Brian are Dave Green on Bass, Tony Coe on not only tenor sax, but soprano and clarinet as well, and Gerard Presencer on Flugelhorn.

As I mentioned, Gershwin tunes are all very memorable (the sleeve notes call the tunes “robust”), and this CD is no exception. “They Cant Take That Away From Me”, “Somebody Loves Me”, and “I Loves You Porgy” are all in there, and the musical approach is fascinating.

Its modern, but not avant guard, clean (no infilling drums), and quit astonishingly beautiful. I don’t hide my appreciation of Tony Coe, I have been a fan of his since the early 1960’s. I hadn’t heard much of his clarinet recently, but it follows his approach on tenor (dribbling out notes rather than shooting them at you). “How Long Has his Been Going On” has two takes, the first with Tony on clarinet, the second on tenor. Go and buy this CD for the clarinet take alone, then tell me that the hairs on your neck didn’t stand up! Zepher Records ZECD 33

The second CD is of an older vintage. I heard it the other week on “Jazz Record Requests” and decided that it was a “must buy”. Via Amazon I managed to find a new copy of it in the USA, and it is now with me, and well worth the £5 paid! I know I am probably late in coming to it, but Jim Hall’s “Concierto” is a great listen. Not just for the title track, (20 minutes of the “Concierto de Aranjuez”), because they are all gems. The performers are all gems too, Jim Hall of course plays the guitar, but with him he has Chet Baker on trumpet, Paul Desmond on alto sax, Roland Hanna on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums.

It’s a magic masterpiece. Its carefully crafted, and a real tonic after a rough day in the office! It was recorded in 1971, doesn’t sound as old as the clothes they wear look, and is well worth trying to find. It’s a Sony Legacy reissue, apparently on the CTI label, with a number ZK65132

Well that’s it for now folks, bring on the cartunes!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcome to November the 5th. Sorry, but no fireworks on this page, or are there?

I've had complaints. I don't write my blog as often as I used to. Well, this is true. Life does seem to be very busy, but as Winter is a time for reading, listening and writing, I thought I would at least start you off with some reading.

Tomorrow night, at The Hedsor Social Club, we have as our guest with The Clive Burton Quartet, trombone star Gordon Campbell, lead trombonist of the BBC Big Band. Why not come along and pick yourself up and have an enjoyable evening with us at Hedsor. It starts as usual at 8.30 pm, and entry is a pretty reasonable £5.

Coming in December is The Hedsor Jazz Christmas Party, which will start at 8 pm on December 11th. A number of jazz stars will be coming to blow for us that night, some as yet to be finalised, but Simon Spillett HAS committed himself to the event. No, not a sign of madness, because HE knows how important local smallish clubs like ours are to keep live jazz alive. Tickets are available at £10 each.

What have I been listening to lately?

Last Sunday I went to listen to young Greek saxophone player Vasilis Xenopoulos at Bradenham's Red Lion, and he is really someone to keep an eye on. A wonderfully exciting player, who seems to manage to generate a groove from almost any tune, and with any bunch of musicians.
Earlier in the day I had had a conversation with him about one of the CD's I had listened to in the week. Derek Nash and Sax Appeal have been around for a number of years now, and I would have described them as a straight ahead kind of jazz unit. Their recent album "The Flatiron Suite" (see cover above), is a bit different, and much more "Weather Report" in my view.
Vasilis had been saying that musicians always need to push the music forward, and I had wondered if this had been, and is still always the case. Musicians are entertainers if they play before a paying public, and many times the progressive hasn't entertained. Vasilis said that if musicians want to extend the boundaries, then they should explain to their audience what they are trying to achieve. In the Flatiron Suite I'm unclear what Sax Appeal are trying to do. It sounds very nice, its well recorded, but it really is something that has been done before. "Flatiron" can be heard by ordering Jazzizit CD JITCD 00541
By the way, one avant guard musician I have heard live (at Brecon) and been greatly entertained by is Hiromi, a Japanese keyboard player. I discovered from Vasilis, that not only is she the same age as he is (young!), but went to Berklee at the same time as he did, and he has played with her in New York many times in the past !!
The other album illustrated above is from an older generation of musicians, and an older style of jazz altogether. "Live and Swinging" presents the Peter York All Stars playing a very interesting selection of tunes, in a very 1940's style. And it entertained me! OK, so Peter York used to be a member of The Spencer Davis Group of the flower power era, but he is a very good drummer, and has made a fairly comfortable living in Germany playing jazz. (No, not really true, he plays jazz in Germany, but he made the comfort first!). Every year he toures with a bunch of compatible musicians, and the recording (made in 1998) has him with 2 key members of the old Alex Welsh Band, namely Roy Williams (trombone) and Harvey Weston (bass), together with an ex college of Roy's from the Humph Band sax "Swanage is my Festival" man Alan Barnes. Completing the Stars are York himself on drums,and Wolfgang Dalheimer on keyboard.

And Swing it does. I have been trying to persuade people to play one of Duke Ellington's tunes for ages, and it crops up on this album. Alan B plays a lovely version of "Isfahan" taken from Dukes "Far East" suite. Also on the album is a medley from Dukes Sacred Music Concerts, with again, a tune I try to get played, "Come Sunday". So there are lots of good reasons to go out and buy this one (in my view), BUT also in my view, Pete York can no longer sing. Nice try, but, well, I have heard "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm" done by others better before!
"Pete York All Stars Live and Swinging" can be had from nagel heyer records CD091

So, that's it for now folks. Don't forget, that however good or bad recorded jazz is, NOTHING is as good, (and sometimes as bad), as LIVE JAZZ.
Do turn out to support musicians who have studied and perfected there skill for you to listen to. If live jazz is on near you, brave the cold and the rain, and go and give the musicians your support. They do it for the applause, not the money.

Geoff C