Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jazz at Hedsor

Thursday night we have the genuine Clive Burton Quintet, complete with a recovered Clive Burton. He is healed enough from his back injury to play, but not, perhaps, to put his whole back into it!! Our regular saxophone section will also be with us, so look forward to some of the close harmony and special head arrangements that come out when the two of them get together.

Recorded Music

Thinking of head arrangement usually leads one to think of pre organised jazz orchestration, well, at least to top and tail a well-known tune that is then played “off the cuff”. That was something lacking on one of the phenomena that was the original modern jazz jam session. Back in the late 40’s and early 50’s Gene Norman organised a number of jazz concerts in California under the banner “Just Jazz”. They were real, old fashioned Jam Sessions, with almost no pre arrangement of the musicians (apart from booking who was in town at the time), which becomes very apparent on some of the recordings when it came to ending a tune!

Over the years, some of these early concert recordings were released, most famously the Lionel Hampton led band playing “Stardust”, which came out on both sides of a 45. Recently, I have re mounted my Lynn turntable and have dug out a few LP’s to play, one of which is a 3 LP set of “Just Jazz” concerts all from 1947/8.

Part of the artwork for the 3 LP set

It is really interesting to hear some of the jazz greats performing without the limitations imposed by a regular band, or by a studio a recording, which usually only allowed 3 to 5 minutes per tune. LP’s themselves were only released in the USA in 1948 and did not come on to the British scene until 1949. The extended playing time of 25 minutes a side for a 12” LP (usually initially reserved for “Classical” music) did away with these limitations for tune length, and we became used to the extended solo on a recording we could buy and take home that was the norm for a live performance heard in concert.

Back in the 1980’s I bought “Gene Norman’s Just Jazz Concerts”, a 3 LP set. I paid a bargain £4.69! The cast list for Gene’s concerts was drool worthy. He could sell out the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (2978 seats) in 1947 at $2 each! Who did they hear? Vic Dickenson, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Dodo Marmarosa, Howard McGhee, Sonny Criss, Wardell Gray, Errol Garner, and many more. And they were all on the same night, April 29th 1947. Wow.

OK, the sound in the hall probably wasn’t great, and it isn’t great on the recordings either, but it is a real treat to hear some of these guys playing on there day off for a little extra pin money. Real Jazz, dare I say, just like the sort we often hear at Hedsor.

I don’t think the LP’s (vogue VJT 3003) are still available new, but last week one was available on ebay for about £17.

I couldn’t see any reference on the web to the music being reissued at any time onto CD. What a Pity!

Why not catch a Thursday Night session at Hedsor for £5 instead?


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