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