Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Winter Ineluctability

Last night was another of Cookham’s fabulous Shirtlifters evenings of Winter Ineluctability.

This is an incredible title for an incredible annual event. A dictionary will give you a definition like this “ineluctability - the quality of being impossible to avoid or evade”. Well, some of Cookhams population did evade and avoid, but well over 100 of us didn’t! (and that is possibly a conservative estimate, for legal reasons!).

It was an evening of traditional style jazz, performed by a bunch of friends (well they were when it started) who wanted to replicate the trad jazz boom of their youth. Over the years people have asked them to play for them, and then they pay them money.

And then every year at least 3 things happen at this time of year.

1.Those who attend ineluctably usually have a terrific evening of entertainment.

2. The money people have paid them to play is distributed to a number of local charities. This year about a dozen people representing those charities left with cheques all for over £100, many twice as much and more.

3. Guest musicians and singers line up to play with the fabulous, and last night was no exception.

Over the years, the band has improved. I would say that practice makes perfect. Lets just say that they have improved!

One musician playing with them last night was one who is regularly mentioned on my blog. Saxophonist Mike Wills brought with him (and played) the lighter end of his instrumental collection. A 1925 bent soprano saxophone and going right on up to a tenor saxophone, and passing on the way a clarinet. He also owns a piccolo saxophone, a baritone saxophone, a bass clarinet and a bass saxophone! In the nicest possible way he added dimension to the band’s sound. Excellent!

One of the regular band deserves special commendation. Malcolm Wilks (on trombone) has improved to the point that I don’t think he blew a wrong not last night at all. Excellent!

Most of the band also have, over the last few years, started to sing to us as well as play. This adds variety, and thimbles. I too, have a similar collection of thimbles, but no longer the washboard! Come on, no serious trad trumpeter of the 50’s went without one!

THE Singer for the band is, of course, John Brooks. The “George Melly”, once of Cookham, is a larger than life character, (no John, no reference to the physical, but your kitchen man is quite sublime and it must be difficult to stay slim) who tells outrageous jokes, and does his best, which is pretty good, to emulate Bessie Smith. Double Entendre in spades. Net result, hilarity.

OK, for someone of my vintage, I can remember visiting the Shepherds Bush Empire and seeing the acts (who’s number came up in lights at the side of the stage) in my childhood, but that is another experience and another story. But I did enjoy singing again, “My Old Man Said Follow the Van”, I hadn’t done that in years.

This year a special guest singer was added to the mix. Two years ago, Rolf Harris temporarily joined the shirtlifting fraternity. This year Marianne Stork (English National Opera I believe) really extended the ineluctable show into vaudeville with vocal range. Terrific.

One thing I haven’t mentioned, the actual jazz content. Yes, it was there. They played the tunes that I used to play, because back in another life, I played a trad trumpet. I actually thought that Ken Colyer was some kind of purist icon!! He wasn’t that good a trumpet player, but much better than me!! He had gone to the promised land and came back with the real thing, or so we thought. Last night I knew the words to many of the songs, which is a great comfort! So much better than modern pop music. (Do they have words?). Onions! No, I’m not being rude. I think it was a tune originally played by Sidney Bechet, but Humph recorded it being sung by the “choir” of The Conway Hall in the 1950's. After that, we all did it!

OK, for all of you who managed to evade and avoid, YOU can now experience that which is lost!! Last Years evening was recorded, and the CD, is now available. And guess what, profits from that sale will also go to charity.

Cookhams fabulous Shirtlifters are a phenomena. Whilst forever improving on the musical front (arrangements no less), they have cracked the entertainment front as well. Why pay taxes for the things we need like hospice care or childrens playgrounds, when all we need to do is run an evening of ineluctability once a week. So much less painful. Well done shirts.

PS the young man in the sepia is me, when I played!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An update on Jazz at The Hedsor Social Club.

Our regular reed section is away this Thursday, January 21st, so we have invited guitarist Max Britain to join Clive Burton on our front line.

I am also reliably informed that Ken Rankine will be back with us on bass and new hip!!

Next Thursday, January 28th, Clive will be our absentee, so joining Mike Wills at the sharp end will be that wonderful trumpet player,(who did get home after his last gig with us on December 17th, despite the snow), Stuart Henderson.

So, put the dates in the forefront of your diaries, and come out for a wonderful evening (both) for just £5 a session.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

I almost forgot. Martin Hart, drummer extraordinaire, is performing at The Woodley Theatre this Saturday, January 16th, with one of Hedsor Jazz's favorite guitarists, Max Britain. At the moment, there are still some tickets left.

Geoff C

After a gap of 1 month, Jazz at The Hedsor Social Club is BACK.

The Clive Burton Quintet, with John Monney on bass as Ken Rankine is still down in Portland, will be there for the first time this year. Snow on snow is all very well, but it does mitigate against social events. I, for one, have missed our live jazz sessions very much, despite Arbors Jazz!

So, if you can make it, why not reunite tonight from 8.30 pm onwards. We WILL charge you our usual £5 entry fee, but it does include a raffle ticket, AND there will be a bumper crop of second hand CD's there for you to spend your pocket money on.

One WARNING. Be careful in the Hedsor Car Park. It is still slippery.

It is a strange quirk of our society that to avoid being sued, the club has instructed Jeff the barman, not to clear the snow!! So DO TAKE CARE.

See you tonight, even without the moonlight!

Geoff C

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hi Folks.

I thought I would catch up on a bit of blogging today. As yet we cannot be sure about this Thursdays Jazz at Hedsor, we await the snow tomorrow to see if all is passable. I hope that it will be, as I for one am absolutely fed up with the cold white stuff that has been around for too long now, and would like to meet you good jazz fans again!

I read in “Cookham Blogger” that Clive Davis has given up doing a blog about village life because it is taking up too much time. I know how he feels because writing even my mean blog takes an hour or so, and it’s obvious that I don’t always get a good input into it due to the time constraint. And Clive still has a living to earn! So, well done Clive for doing such a good job for such a long time.

And so to my mean effort.

I thought that as I had suggested that you all sit down and listen to recorded jazz at home whilst drinking a large scotch, I had better write up some of what I have been listening to.

The first thing wasn’t jazz at all, but I hadn’t listened to it before. Vaughan Williams “Hodie” is a Christmas Cantata, and I listened over the bleak week to a reissue on the EMI Classics label. It is a choral work with Orchestral accompaniment, with solo singers and obviously a choir. The recording was made in 1965 with The LSO, Janet Baker, Richard Lewis, John Shirley-Quirk and the choristers of Westminster Abbey, all conducted by David Willcocks. Even though an old (for classical recordings) recording, it is defiantly a vibrant recording. Written and first performed in 1954 it is still a modern piece, using old Christmas Carols, and poetry to form a magnificent celebration of the time of year (Hodie meaning “This Day”). The orchestral accompaniment reminded me very much of VW’s “Symphonia Antarctica” music, which was written originally for the Film “Scott of the Antarctic” in 51. It has that chill about it, and that air of cold awe. I can heartily recommend it, especially if you haven’t , like me, heard it before. EMI Classics 7243 5 67427 2 7. Yes really! Do they really need all those numbers to identify the work?

And so to Jazz.

Over the years I have come to realise that certain labels are a good bet. To name but one obvious one, “Blue Note”. But there is some great music, and musicians, signed with lesser known labels, and I want to write about just one today, Arbors Records “Arbors Jazz”.

I know that I have talked about some of them before, but I realise that I do have quite a number out on my shelves that have been listened to in the last few weeks, and that has been without disturbing the racks of CD’s looking for more. So, not yet put away are:-

Eddie Erickson and his International Swing Band: I’m Old Fashioned ARCD 19373. He plays Banjo and Guitar, and sings. You may not have heard of many of his stars, but Trombonist Bill Allred is a phenomenal player, and Antti Sarpila on reeds is another well recognised player originally from Finland. The music is 1930’s style, and great fun.

Duke Heitger, Berndl Hotzky: Doin’ The Voom Voom ARCD19382
Is a whole set of trumpet piano duets, harking back to Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines in flavour, but without copying. To do it properly requires great skill, and these two have it in spades. Tunes by Gershwin, Ellington, James P Johnson and Edward Elgar. Yes E E has “Salut d’Amour” played as a finale.

John Allred, Jeff Barnhart, Danny Coots: “The ABC’s of Jazz” ARCD 19371 is just wonderful tuneful swinging jazz, played by guys who don’t have to think how to, they just do! John Allred is the trombone playing son of the father on ARCD 19373. Jeff Barnhart is a great stride piano player, and Danny Cooks is a pretty good modern drummer. The style is again easy swing, The solo’s virtuosic, and the tunes are all ones you have heard before. BUT have you ever heard the clarinet solo from High Society played by a trombone before? Terrific.

Marty Grosz: Hot Winds, The Classic Sessions ARCD 19379 finds a bunch of largely New York based musicians playing “Hot Music”. Marty is a great Guitar and Banjo player, often associated with Eddie Condon style music. Hot Music? Well, Marty says on the sleeve “I’ve been working on a definition for the past sixty years and I still haven’t gotten it into final form. About the closest I have come is that you know it when you hear it” Well, you can hear it here. It is also great fun, as anyone who has seen and heard Marty Live, will know it has to be. With him (amongst a varied cast) is another real character muso Scott Robinson, who is even heard playing C-Melody Sax!

Lastly, one for the children. Randy Sandke’s “Jazz for Juniors” ARCD 19385 is a mixed mode CD which can be played on a PC as well as a CD Player. Doing so will get you the cartoons! It’s really a kind of “Peter and the Wolf” introducing young people to the instruments and the use of them in Jazz. Well thought out, and with great lyrics. Randy is a superb Trumpet player, and is joined by, amongst others, Wycliffe Gordon on Trombone and Howard Alden on Guitar.

So there you have it. Arbors Jazz, a label to be reckoned with, and certainly listened to. And there are lots more, do look them out.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

First of all, Happy New Year to you all.

Sadly, the weather has taken a consistent "turn for the worst". And as I tap away on my PC, the snow, which if you recall set in on our Christmas Party Night, is still flaking it down.

I have had a discussion with our leader, trombone maestro Clive Burton, and we have decided to make life a little less difficult for everyone.

Hedsor Jazz tomorrow night, January 7th, has been CANCELLED.

We think it would be unfair on musicians and fans alike to expect you to turn out for what, in essence, is an unessential journey.

So, please tell others you know who may not read this message that Hedsor Jazz has been cancelled for the 7th January due to this white stuff that insist on making life slippery.

So plug in the Hi Fi, select your favorite tracks, pour the scotch, enjoy, and stay warm.

I really do hope that we can reconvene Jazz at Hedsor on Thursday 14th.

Until then, warm drinks, hot jazz CD's and slippers seem like a great way of life.