Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hi, time again for a bit of Blogging!

Today, Thursday October 25th, at Hedsor we have, for the third week running, something approaching the regular Clive Burton Quintet. Mike and Clive together on the front line together with piano, bass and drums. Now I think the piano will be Nigel Fox, the drummer Martin Hart, and this week, if my memory isn’t failing, John Monney on bass.

Talking of bass players, Ken is well enough now to have left Portland, he returned home last Friday, and yesterday flew off on a much postponed holiday with Sue to Malta. He tells me that he will be back playing for us on a Thursday on November 8th. This just also happens to be Simon Spillett next visit to us. Ken tells me he is already in practice for this gig!! (Hands up all those who shouted “Oleo”!).

It was good to see a nice crowd at Hedsor last week, it does help pay the way. Keep it up, and tell your friends (and relatives) because they may like to come as well. It’s not only good jazz that is on offer, but good fun company as well. And you can do it all on a miserly budget. £6 gets you in and gives you a raffle ticket. Beat that Ronnie Scott’s! All the fun and excitement kicks off at 8.30pm. The bar is open from around 7 pm.

As is well known, the kind of music played at Hedsor is Modern Jazz. As I explained to my barber (as in hair cutting!), that is “modern” as in 1950!! I started listening to recorded jazz about then too, but usually it was more of what became know as “trad” jazz, and in those days there was great rivalry between “modern” jazz fans and “trad” jazz fans, with very little cross over. It surprised us all when Bertie King, a modern jazz saxophonist, played a session with the Chris Barber Band! After all, Chris Barber, together with Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball, sort of founded the British traditional jazz genre of jazz. About the same time Bruce Turner joined the “revivalist” band of Humphrey Lyttelton, and banners were displayed in Birmingham Town Hall telling the “Dirty Bopper” to go home!! Bruce had previously played with Freddie Randall’s Dixieland Band, but had also studied under Lee Konitz, a very modern jazz saxophonist, in 1950.

My jazz journey led me from the revivalist jazz of the 1950’s, to the modern jazz of today as distilled to us a the Hedsor Social Club. There were many stops and detours in between. This last week I have been catching up on one of those detours.

Chris Barbers band came to be known as his “Jazz and Blues” Band, and as such toured East Germany a number of times. This week I inherited (literally) a recording of Barber and his Jazz and Blues Band recorded live in East Berlin in 1968. I think we all tend to forget how innovative the Barber Band became. From “Petite Fleur” in the mid 50’s to “Battersea Rain Dance” and “Revival” in 1968, both represented on this recording. The band was playing a real sweep of the music called jazz, and by 1968 had included a saxophonist (John Crocker) and a blues guitarist (John Slaughter) alongside his banjo player. The sound is exciting, swinging and wonderfully different to the standard fair of the Bilks and Balls of the time. The CD, which I completely recommend, is no longer available new, but was released on the Black Lion Label.  Other versions can be found on Ebay, including a double LP version issued in East Germany!

Another memory was conjured up in the same legacy by a recording of “Harry Strutters”. This was a band I saw at the Brecon Jazz Festival around 1990. They play dance band tunes from the 1930’s, but with a style and panache that makes for a really entertaining listen. There is also a link to Chris Barber as well, because on trombone HS has trombonist Bob Hunt, who is now in the CB band!! Other people we know are in HS, Paul Lacey on trumpet, and on a few tracks drummer Dennis Smith. It’s great fun, but again I think you will need to trawl Ebay to find copies of their work. I have a recording called “Jubilee Stomp”, (a Duke Ellington tune). Other titles are around, the one I have was very well recorded in the Porcupine Studios.

Artwork is attached to help search, for the Barber recording the artwork is of the German LP! The Black Lion one is far less colourful!

Monday, October 08, 2012

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now”

Well, today I am looking both backwards and forwards anyway!

First, last Thursdays Hedsor Big Night.

The Simon Spillett Quartet. What fantastic musicianship! Breathtaking, and as one irregular patron, who has been coming occasionally for a number of years, said “It was fan-blooming-tastic”. If you were there, I doubt you will forget it. You may not have enjoyed all of the evening, some of the music was a little self indulgent (OK, I invited them!), and one “new friend” who had come from Hillingdon said that “they are obviously improvising all the stuff they play, which is amazing, but do they ever play any tunes?”

The same very nice man commented that he needed his sat nav to find Hedsor, “because it was down lots of windy lanes and in the dark”. I told him “that’s because its country!”

 John Critchinson

 Clark Tracey

 Alec Dankworth

Having said all of the above, the standard of musical ability was outstanding. Bass solo’s? He could have had a complete tune all to himself. And so could the drummer. I am of course referring to Alec Dankworth and Clark Tracey. John Critchinson on piano was his usual enjoyable self, obviously enjoying every minute of the gig himself as well, and providing an object lesson in jazz piano. As a rhythm section they were superb.

 Simon Spillett

Simon Spillett. Well, we at Hedsor take him for granted. Some of us have watched him grow up. But we are indeed fortunate in having such a prodigious talent come to us so regularly just as a friend. 

Great chops Simon. And thank you for bringing your regular band to come and entertain us, which you all certainly did.

It was a pity that more people didn’t come and enjoyed the show. We really must try harder to let people know about the best-hidden treasure since Tutankhamen’s tomb, the jazz at Hedsor Social Club.

One new comer asked if we had just started up!! We have been in Hedsor over 11 years now. How come local people don’t know about it? We must sell our secret to MI5. Do, please tell, and bring, your friends. You owe it to them. We miss their admittance fee, but they miss some of the best, most accessible, jazz around.

So, that is looking backwards. Looking forwards to this Thursday, back in the Hedsor Club bar, we have the regular Quintet (almost). Our guest bass player this week will be John Monney, the original bass player for Century Jazz, the current bands predecessor. Start time 8.30 pm £6 entry.

John Monney

Ken Rankine, our regular bass player, is progressing well down in Portland, and is getting about on just one crutch now. He hopes to be home soon on October 19th and has in fact already played a gig in Dorset using his bass guitar! He does still need his painkiller though!

A little further into the future, our Christmas Party will be on December 20th. Put it in your diary NOW, because it will be VERY special.

CD’s, yes, I have listened to a few this week, but I will write about them separately, but definitely in time for you to buy them in for your Yuletide gifts!

PS. Not my best go at photography ever, but on the night I didn't want to disturb too much by using flash! The one of John Monney comes from his Facebook page!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Just a reminder that today is the first Tuesday of the month, and The Bourne End Community Centre jazz night this month has the Pete Davis Quartet plus Max Britain on Guitar. It starts at 8 pm I believe.

Then on Thursday at The Hedsor Social Club we have a Hedsor Jazz Very Special night.
It’s the Simon Spillett Quartet, with Simon on tenor sax, John Critchinson on keyboard, Alec Dankworth on bass and Clark Tracey on drums. 

This is a West End band coming to play for you locally, and it will only cost you £10 to get in, which includes free parking and a light buffet. You don't get any of that at Ronnie Scott's!

SL8 5ES is the postcode for your satnav. The music starts at 8.30 pm.

That's it for now folks,