Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Marlow Jazz Festival


We have all now had a couple of days to recover, and digest Saturdays Marlow Jazz Festival. I thought I would share with you all some of my thoughts about it.

It had been in the planning for about 9 months, and as a musical event I thought it went pretty well. Although walking about the various parts of the hotel for most of the morning and a large chunk of the afternoon meant that I couldn’t spend much time listening to everyone, I enjoyed all that I heard, and thought it was all to an incredibly high standard.

As I said in my program notes, we are fortunate in our area to be able to hear most of the bands that played on Saturday fairly frequently, and it does spoil us. The quality of the product is superb. Saturday was indeed a celebration of quality jazz, and I have read a number of feedback forms that support that view. We are going to hold a post mortem very soon to establish what we learnt from the experience, and what we might like to repeat of leave out next time, if there is a next time!! (that could be your choice).

But it was a great day out of jazz. I think every musician playing raised there game for the event. Dare I go through individually, probably not! But I will for just one or two!

I loved John Brooks Fedora! And they did sound good as a band in that bar. They looked and fitted the part!

Jez Cook and his violinist friend who played with Celebration Swing were wonderful and to have the violin there was an unexpected bonus.

Mike Will’s clarinet sound for the Benny Goodman Set was stunningly good. Alan Grahame on vibes was as good as you could get too.

It was interesting to hear Lynn Garner and Brad Lang doing tunes I had only heard her do before with a piano accompaniment. On occasions it took me a few bars to realise they were the same sometimes.

Simon Spillett with his own band were just like the CD’s, Fast Hard bop! Great musicianship.

Tracey Mendham with the Mainstream set was, and is, a great sound and a great personality and, just as I predicted in the program notes, even though they had not played together as a band before, they were all so good it DID work.

The Vasilis’s Xtet with Michael L. Roberts set was remarkable. Exciting, tight, harmonic, and left everyone wanting some more of their perfection.

And the Jam session was everything I could have wished for. It was a shame it had to stop. You will read below why!

I didn’t hear enough of the BBO to really comment, but they seemed to have an audience wanting more.

I didn’t get to hear any of Swing 42 at all so, sorry chaps, but being in two places at once is just schizophrenic! I was beginning to need to sit down in one place for a bit!

Simon Spillett took his Mum and Dad down to see them after his set, because his parents didn’t believe that Clive Burton ever played Trad!!

It could have gone on all night as far as I was concerned, but Simon had to leave for Leyland in Lancashire (a 4 hour drive) to do a gig in Manchester Sunday lunchtime!

I thought both Clives did a remarkable job as compere’s, and I also thought the Green Room a great place for the musicians to all mix, some meeting others for the first time, and some catching up on old friendships. As musical director it was a privilege to go in and be a part of that.

It was really good to have Vasilis and Simon play together for the first time. They got on so well that I think it might happen again. Part way through the Jam Session, it was great to see them shake hands after a pretty fast set of exchanges.

So, I think all in all, smiling faces all round.

BUT there was an area of exception. The hotel were very generous in letting us have their facilities for free. It couldn’t have happened at all without their help and I am very grateful to them for their generosity, but without exception EVERYONE I spoke to moaned about the prices! Sorry, we will try to do better if you want a next time.

I found out the hard way how big the hotel was, but I really did enjoy my day with all the friends I had there. Some of the photos are attached, I will try and get more available soon.

One final comment. The Flying Pigs had never organised a Jazz event before. I thought they did incredibly well, so a big THANK YOU to Helen and her staff.

No comments: