Monday, May 28, 2012

I have returned from Deep Dorset (Worth Maltravers is quite high up really), and have some news to pass on, and some retrospectives.

I missed last Thursdays presentation with Mike Wills and John Coverdale, which is a shame. I understand that most of you missed it as well!! Another shame.

But many of you did turn out for our Big Band concert the week before, with a special appearance of Simon Spillett as well.

I personally thought the whole evening magical. Clive had told me a number of times how good the Remix Jazz Orchestra were, and he wasn’t wrong. They were all terrific. Sorry to say I didn’t take my camera with me, but I did do some recording, which I have yet to process from mini disk to CD. Those of you who had not heard a big band live before would have had your socks blown off. Now perhaps you can understand why the swing era swung!

The two sets with Simon Spillett playing with Clive Burton and the Quintet were worth turning out for on their own, and the two different forms of jazz put back to back or side by side (look up your Duke Ellington LP’s!) was pretty exciting to listen to.

Simon has asked for some time for us to invite to Hedsor not just him, but his quartet too. So we have! October 4th is the day, a regular Thursday, but another Big Room event. He is bringing to Hedsor pianist John Critchinson, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums. This is going to be a must come evening, put the date in your diary NOW, and I will issue some annoying bits of paper about it soon. If you cannot wait to here Simon and his quartet, they are appearing this year at The Swanage Jazz Festival in July.

This coming Thursday we do have both Clive Burton on trombone and Mike Wills on Saxophones. In the rhythm section we have on keyboard Geoff Barwell, (who turned out at very short notice some weeks ago when Nigel had his little trauma with his bicycle), on bass John Monney and on drums Martin Hart.

Martin, by the way, played a lovely set on Saturday at Woodley with saxophonist Karen Sharp, someone else we will have to tempt to Hedsor. She has a lovely big brassy tone, and is obviously a very accomplished player. Best tune of the evening in my view was Fat’s Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz”, which was very well extemporised by all. I asked Ken McCarthy how long he had know he was going to play it and he said “about 1 minute”! He did a great job of it.

Hedsor Jazz has been promoting first class jazz at The Hedsor Social Club for 10 years now. Initially it was financed by the raffle ticket sales, except that it wasn’t, and we formed “Jazz Angels” to underwrite the costs, mainly at Hedsor, but for other local jazz events as well. We then put on an admission charge of £3 and also sold raffle tickets. Then 3 years ago we raised the entry fee to £5 and included the raffle ticket. Next we had to put the hat round to try and cover our room rent (we had previously been given the bar for free). Hedsor Club is finding life financially difficult, and we have been asked to contribute more money to our rent there. We have tried to help increase their finances by asking you all to become Hedsor Social Club Members, and many of you have done so. 

Recently all the angels held a meeting (I’m still not in the band!), and with great reluctance we are going to have to raise our entry fee by £1 to £6 as from June 7th. I know we are all living in very trying financial times, but this is the smallest amount we think we can try, being aware that many of you are couples, and it raises your entry from £10 to £12. Some angels wanted to ask for more, and we felt we would see what happens with this small increase. We don’t want to loose you!

Hedsor Social Club has assured us that we are safe in our venue for “the foreseeable future”. Not being clairvoyant I don’t know how long that can be. In the meantime we would like to do our best to help our hosts of the last 10 years stay in business. We are planning more big room big nights (see Simon Spillett above) and the band and the angels have agreed that 3 or 4 big room events per year, with star guests, will be our aim. This will help our finances if we can make a profit on them and help Hedsor Club if you buy more than one shandy from the bar. Don’t forget, that you can also sponsor a guest musician. Liaise with Clive, and we will put in a suitable guest of your choice at your expense.

During my recent stay in Dorset I visited a very local pub, which had sponsored local jazz musicians for the last year, and they were celebrating one whole year of jazz. It happens every Sunday afternoon between 2 and 4pm. We at Hedsor have been running jazz every Thursday evening for 10 years. We hope we can make it into the future. Ten years is something to celebrate, not many local jazz venues have stayed around so long and been able to lay on jazz of such high quality for all of that time.

Hedsor Jazz is unique in the UK, ask Simon next time you see him! Don’t let it fail.

Two Views of Dorset!


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