Monday, April 11, 2011

Adventures in Jazz Land (Well, Ealing Actually!).

Last night June and I had a real adventure. We were invited by Vasilis and his partner Valentina to see/hear the Xtet on their home ground.

The Lodge Tavern in Ealing is Vasilis and the Xtet’s regular, alternate Sunday's, place of work. On entering, it was fairly busy, although no music had started, but a loud conversational buzz was already underway.

June needed to visit the Ladies room. She was amused whilst there to be asked “you must be someones mother?”. This by a young lady who is shortly to celebrate her 30th birthday! Now I admit to being 72, June admits nothing! BUT for a jazz night at The Lodge, we were definitely the odd ones out, inviting curious looks from many of the 30 ish year old clientele.

There were other differences too. NO real beer at all, all lagers. I ordered drinks for 3 at the bar, and whilst delivering 2, I left my pint of larger on the bar. On returning for it, I caught up with it just in time to prevent a young lady from sweeping it away in her left hand. She relinquished it with a scowl, and a smile from the bar man! We don’t expect beer hijacking in Hedsor!

It seemed so different from our local jazz experience, where I would rank as a middle aged jazz fan. Some are younger, some are older, but almost NONE are 30 or under.

I thought this very interesting. We at Hedsor Jazz have been cogitating (as old codger would) how to increase our audience, and attract some younger people, you know, school children of 45! We put on first class jazz, we charge a modest entry fee (£5, the Lodge was free), but never seem to attract that age range.

The Lodge Tavern became very full as the music started. Many people new each other, and were obviously friends, just as we are at Hedsor. Some were musicians, just as at Hedsor, and, towards the end of the second half, 3 different instruments sat in for one number each, not unknown at Hedsor either.

But, the conversations didn’t stop, even after the music started, the background noise of those conversations was colossal.

But the music itself was, as I expected, great jazz fusion. If you came to the Marlow Jazz Festival last October, you would have seen the exact same band. Vasilis, leader on saxophone, Peter Billington on keyboards (2), Mark Rose on bass and Chris Nicholls on drums. Well drilled, with good solos from everyone. The music was arranged so that everyone could shine on at least one number, and in reality, on many numbers. First Class.

So, what for Hedsor. We think that younger people don’t hear “our” kind of music, and yes its true, it isn’t on the Radio very often. But there is an audience of younger people out there. How do we convince them that we would make them as welcome to Hedsor as the young people of The Lodge made us, because they did. Once their initial shock of how old we were had worn off, we were very pleasantly conversed with (“in ear” begins to have a new meaning) by a number of the guests.

So, for all you up to 30 year old wherever you are, if you like modern jazz, you will be welcomed at The Hedsor Social Club on any Thursday. You will just have to forgive us if we can remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and Saturday Morning pictures.

Or don’t 30 year olds live around here anymore?

Geoff C

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