Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I was greatly heartened last week by the response of one member of our Hedsor Jazz audience.He had come, despite local flooding, not just because we had a guest saxophone player, Frank Griffith, (who played not only tenor sax, but excellent clarinet as well) but because I had said in this blog that Hedsor was accessible from above!!Well, tomorrow it still will be. As I write this, the B4447 is still closed, and the road over Cookham Bridge is also still closed. The flood levels are subsiding, but they do have a long way to go down!!

But do please make the effort to come tomorrow, because we have another great night lined up for you. Lady Saxophonist Tracey Mendham is our guest. A superb musician, Tracey has a big, strong sound in the tradition of Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley and Sonny Rollins (it says here), no, its true. She has a big sound and a big personality. If this were an ITV football match I think I would take odds on whether our regular leader (Clive Burton) will be able to keep her in check!! 3 to 1 against in the first half!!

Our normal entry fee of £6 still applies, so do yourselves a favour and come and have a great night out.

The following week (Feb 27th) I am hoping that I will be able to get to Hedsor by a shorter means than over the last few. Our special guest next week is that Greek master of the saxophone Vasilis Xenopoulos.

Now all of the above refers to live jazz, something I am passionate about keeping alive. Without an audience for live jazz music it will die. Then it will become an archaeological exercise to listen to it. Probably via the recordings that were made when jazz was less of a minority cult!

So, just in case, do go out and buy some good examples of it while you can.

This week I have listened to 2 CD's that contain in the main, players from the past.

First up is a CD that contains recordings made between 1939 and 1941 of Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian. They are from the Benny Goodman Sextet of that period. Benny of course made many recordings, but because of his early death, Charlie Christian is less well represented in the CD catalogues. Charlie lived from  July 29, 1916 to March 2, 1942 and was one of the earliest users of an amplified guitar. The electric guitar is now almost commonplace, but before WW2 it was only just beginning to be used in jazz, and Charlie was one of its first true masters. The BG Sextet recordings give ample space in a chamber music style for everyone to solo to advantage, and for you all to realise how much fun small group swing could be. My copy is the CBS Jazz Masterpieces series of CD's (itself now a bit vintage, 1989!) 465679 2

The other CD is not so old a recording, but I am always keen to seek out reordings of the Humphrey Lyttelton Band from the time when Tony Coe was amongst it. Of the 25 tracks (some of them announcements) made available by The BBC on Upbeat Records are 10 tracks with Humphs normal sized band, and 5 or so by The Humphrey Lyttelton Big Band with Jimmy Rushing. Its taken from a 1958 broadcast and includes not only Tony Coe, but Jimmy Skidmore, Joe Temperley, John Picard and Eddie Taylor too. For the big band you can add in some members of the then Ted Heath Orchestra, including Bert Courtley and Bobby Pratt, but also Kathy Stobart, who was from time to time a member of the Humph organisation.  Upbeat URCD 174, issued in 2001.

Well thats it for now folks.


Geoff C

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