Friday, April 10, 2009

It’s a rainy afternoon, and Easter to boot, so, I thought it might be a suitable opportunity to blog!!

First, I’d like to look back at one of last weeks gigs. I think it was one that didn’t get the consideration of a large audience. Although not a poor one, many of the fans that I know would have enjoyed the music were obviously doing something else.

The event was one of Mo’s monthly Jazz at Bourne End Community Centre Tuesdays. The band was under the (loose) control of Zane Cronje on keyboard. Now, many of us see him on a weekly basis at Hedsor as part of the Clive Burton Quintet, and I suppose we can easily take him for granted. That could be a mistake!

With him on the front line was John Coverdale on guitar. John is rapidly becoming one of my favourite guitarists. He played for my 70th birthday last year, and has been to Hedsor a number of times since. He always plays immaculate solos, and is also always sensitive with his in-fills when others have the spotlight. Last Tuesday Zane and John played the most wonderful set of chorded jazz I have heard in many years. They swapped choruses, and split choruses with a really wonderful affinity. It really was chamber jazz at its very best.

The evening was enhanced by singer Liz Cooper, who was equally “chamber” in her approach. She didn’t beat you about the ears, or stridently intrude into your own musings, but graced the evening with sung words. All of this was most ably supported by Terry Parsons on (skeletal) drums, and with dexterous bass playing by Steve Riddell, who has recently returned from 6 months on the QE2 (both in motion and now dry docked).

I’m sorry if you missed it. It was jazz, and like all great jazz, a work of the moment. Well done to all.

Whilste still looking back, another evening of song this week came last night at Hedsor, with Harriet Coleman taking centre microphone. Harri sang a number of songs, often familiar, and always having great melody. And just as John Coverdale seemed to bring out the best in Zane, so Harri brought out the best in Clive Burtons trombone playing (if not the jokes!). He accompanied Harri with great skill. A trombone can so easily drown a singer, but Clive got it just right. A very pleasant evening, again with slightly fewer in the audience than the music deserved.

Having briefly looked in the rear view mirror, we must now turn to look ahead.

Next Thursday at Hedsor, we have a return to the regular Clive Burton Quintet, with Mike Wills bringing his reed section. I have often mentioned the wonderful harmonies that their arrangements bring us. I now realise that some of those are down to Zane collaborating with Mike on the arrangements. Don’t stop.
Coming to Pinder Hall very soon as part of The Cookham Festival is the Jazz Evening with Vasilis Xenopoulos and his Quintet. This is on Sunday 26th April at 8pm. Tickets are £8 each, and the style of the gathering is a picnic meal. Bring your own, and sit around tables, café style. A full bar will be available for the liquid part of your refreshment.

Vasilis deserves to have Pinder Hall full to overflowing. He is a young (29) jazz star in the ascendancy. Playing mainly tenor sax (a soprano has been observed as well), he plays very accessible “modern” jazz. No, not squeaks and bumps, but tuneful, swinging and very exciting music. He is bringing with him the musicians that he had with him last year at the Ealing Jazz festival, minus the trombone player, but plus a male singer. That means (if I’ve got it right), a guitar, a Hammond organ, and a drummer. If you are there on the evening or not, it WILL be a great night, but it will be better if you are there. I promise you, you will enjoy his music!

Saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos

Drummer, Chris Nicholls

On May 14th we are running another in our Jazz for Cancer evenings. Hedsor Social Club is the venue, with again Café style seating in the large room. Yes, it’s a Thursday, but the evening will start at 8 pm, and go on to around 11.30 pm. There WILL be food there as part of the ticket price (£10), and there will be an infamous raffle. ALL profit from this event goes to Cancer Research UK. Since we started running these concerts, so many more of our friends have been affected by Cancer, that we will make every effort to make it a memorable evening worthy of your money. So far star guest lined up include Stuart Henderson, and John Coverdale.

Well, that’s it for this time. If it rains much more, I will just have to nag on about CD’s I’ve listened to, but for now, enjoy the photos of 2 of the musicians soon to be at Pinder Hall.

Have a great Easter.

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