Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Thoughts on The 25th Swanage Jazz Festival.

Friday Night

I spent my Friday evening in the Methodist church. Particularly to see The Nigel Price Organ Trio with Vasilis Xenopoulos, but arriving early enough(!!) to here The Ollie Howell Quintet. Due to traffic delays, they (O H Q) were an hour late, so there set was truncated. It was nice to commence the Swanage Festival with some young musicians, who really were all performers of a high order. The acoustics in this church are very poor for music, a very blurred sound from all I heard in here, which does make it difficult to assess the music of performers you don’t know. I know that Simon Spillett said last year how difficult it was to play in there because of the indistinct and diffused sound, and it hasn’t changed!!

However the O H Q :-

As listed in the program notes above they had a couple of very talented players, my favorite being saxophonist Duncan Eagles. He is going to be a significant player on the jazz circuit of the future I feel.

Nigel and Vasilis? Those who come to Hedsor Jazz don’t need to be told. Despite the poor acoustics, they were superb. Exciting, innovative, all the things you know about. With Matt Home on Drums and Pete Whitaker on organ who could ask for a better way of ending a Friday night. Wonderful stuff, and with a brand new Nigel Price Trio CD just out just to remind yourself at home what you could almost hear through the acoustic fog!

the only shot I got of Pete Whitaker is blurred, sorry,!


Saturday started with the “traditional” New Orleans street parade through Swanage. Not as long a route as before (traffic regulations cost money!) but in the sunshine it was a photogenic occasion, and with a well known face in the front line!!

The first sit down in Marquee 2 was to listen to The Clare Hirst Quintet (as listed in the program below)

Clare is married to Alan Barnes, it is (and always was) a musician with her own take on music, she was once part of The Belle Stars, and doesn’t necessarily play modern (bop) jazz. This set showed us a good competent modern (as in up to date) jazz group extending the style past bop but refraining from the avant-guard.

Next up was a walk to the Conservative Club where another young band of musicians entertained with a tight ensemble sound and excellent solos.

They are an excellent band, surprising many in the audience with their ability to sight read!! They are Manchester based, if you get the chance go and see them, you will enjoy the experience. 

The Con Club had reorganized the seating this year which made it very comfortable, and the beer and rolls were both of a high quality and remarkably budget priced, well done.

I am not complaining, because the “problem” is in fact a real joy, but it is impossible to go and see all that is on offer at The Swanage Jazz Festival.The advantage of the stroller ticket is you can wander about and catch bands or musicians that you might not know. THAT is the way they get to be know, and it is also the way you can expand your understanding of jazz and extend the people you find enjoyable to listen to. But in so exercising my prerogatives, I had to miss out the Jim Mullen Organ Trio and eat a sandwich! But I did proceed to another band new to me (except “himself”), The Bobby Worth Quintet.

All guys I have seen before, 2 local to Hedsor (Simon Allen and Paul Jordanous both came up through the Berkshire Youth Jazz Orchestra movement now known as Pendulum), the rest just famous!! This new grouping gained enthusiastic response from the audience, playing modern jazz.

Then, as now, I took a food break!!

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