Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hedsor Jazz

Our band will be as normal (as the band can be) on Thursday. The Clive Burton Quintet are never boring, sometimes I am astounded by how good they are and just how lucky we all are in being able to listen to such quality jazz every week. But variety is the spice of life and we do have a number of "different" events coming up soon.

In March, on 16th we have singer Alison Bentley coming with guitarist Kevin Armstrong. I may have got the date wrong last week, but it will be 16th March

Clive might be doing the community a service that day, so Mike Wills, our sax section, will be coming with them, as they all come from around the Oxford area. Do look at both guests web sites. It will be well worth your while making sure you can come that night.

On March 30th we still anticipate having a saxophone rehearsal group joining our regular rhythm section for the first half of the evening, followed by our regular quintet for the second half. This should be an evening with a real difference. It is good for Hedsor Jazz to be able to support aspiring musicians in their performance aspiration!

Someone who doesn’t need a performing nudge up the aspirational tree is Tracey Mendham. She has asked to come and celebrate her birthday with us on April 6th. So here is another entry for you to pencil in your diary (OK, it might not be pencil to paper in these days of electronic diaries).

Finally we are planning another special evening as a money raiser for Cancer Research UK. Put May 18th in your diary now. We are trying to recruit at least one special guest, watch this blog.

That’s about it for this Tuesday, maybe more news later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

An early in the week blog

As later this week I have to go to a funeral of someone who died one month short of 106! Winchester Wednesday, then Southampton Thursday visiting a student granddaughter!

So, all I can tell you at the moment for this week is that there will be jazz at the Hedsor social Club, and I think this week it will be our regular Clive Burton Quintet. The usual rules apply. Music from 8.30 pm, entry £7 each, raffle ticket included.

Last weeks session was blisteringly good, so do turn out and help keep live jazz alive. Live local jazz venues are getting fewer and further between. It is in your hands to keep Hedsor and its jazz going.

A little further ahead we are currently finalising a gig for March 30th for Hedsor that will see a saxophone rehearsal band joining our rhythm section for the first set of the evening. It’s a bit of an experiment, and should extend the experience of the saxophone group AND the audience! Put the date in your diary NOW.

Then slightly further ahead on April 6th we have a return visit from that exuberant lady saxophonist Tracey Mendham. Tracey has asked especially to come that day as it is her birthday. I’m sure our regulars at Hedsor will help her celebrate it in real style!

I have been reminded this week of gigs long ago that used to take place at a pub in Bourne End called “The Firefly”. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s this was THE place to go every other Tuesday to hear the best of not only British jazzmen, but American stars as well. No, jazz isn’t there anymore, and neither is the pub, BUT a ghost of jazz at “The Firefly” can be found at Marlow’s British Legion Hall every month. There is a common link between the two, both had/have the organising ability of Michael Eagleton. He has kindly given me a recording made at The Firefly of Peter King with the Tony Lee Trio in 1982, hence the nostalgia.

Michael often does joint collaborations with Christ Church URC in Marlow, and the next one, on March 21st will have American singer Marlene Verplanck with a British rhythm section of John Pearce on piano, Bobby Worth on drums and Paul Morgan on bass. Tickets £10, start time 8.30 pm.

More nostalgia can be had this coming Friday at Cookham Rise Methodist Church. A concert of Big Band music from the 40’s and 50’s is being performed by the Echoes of Swing Big Band. Tickets are £10 each, and the music starts at 8 pm.

Perhaps all this jazz in churches is a further active comment on the article I reproduced in this blog the other week about last September’s Jazz Concert at Cores End URC in Bourne End. If you haven't read  it yet, just turn back the pages!


Geoff C

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

OK, Last Week you had a lot to read, and two issues of blog. THIS WEEK, not so much to read, it's late again, and will only be issued ONCE!

My excuse (if needed) has been computer problems, mine this week as well as other peoples , and a dishwasher that wont! AND actual DAYS OUT!

So, just to let you know that this week at Hedsor Jazz we have our regular quintet, and our regular deputy drummer!! Mike Jeffries will be in the drum chair in place of Martin Hart, who is off to Venice.

Next week may also be a bit light on blog text. We have a family funeral to attend. Mind you, it was someone who we had anticipated might not last forever, she was one month short of 106! I still find it difficult to say the right thing to an unexpected phone call that is announcing the death of a loved one, even someone over 105.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Swanage Jazz Festival

As many of you will know, I have been an ardent supporter of The Swanage jazz festival for over 20 years, and was greatly saddened to learn last year that this years festival will be it's last. 

Just in case you thought of going this year to see all that you have been missing, I am implanting below the front and back cover of their order form!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Hedsor, and all that JAZZ

This week we are very glad to have back with us the “full” Clive Burton Quintet.

Those of you who came last week, and those who visited Bourne Ends Community Centre Jazz last night will know that both Clive and Mike are back performing as well as ever. 

The past few weeks have been a reminder that not all good things last forever. We must take advantage of all of the good aspects of the life that we have, and the great opportunities that life has to offer. 

Not just to listen to music I may add. My recent bout of deafness made me realise what I had taken for granted for years, the ability to actually listen to music, both live, and quite importantly over those years, at home on Hi Fidelity equipment.

A Concert Review

In September last year I helped to organise a jazz concert at Cores End United Reformed Church which I know many of you came to. I didn’t recognise one of the people in the audience, and in the interval I went up to him to ensure he was made welcome. It turned out that he was a freelance journalist named Owen Peters. He has written a nice review of our evening which has just been published online. OK, when you see it, it isn’t in a prestigious Jazz Magazine, but hey, any publicity is good publicity, and I think this is a good article anyway. 

So, instead of me writing loads more, why don’t you just read it:-

Artist: Sarah Moule
Title: Cores End United Reform Church, Bourne End, 19/9/2016
Category: Live Reviews
Author: Owen Peters
Date Published: 08/02/2017

Over recent years I seem to spend more time in church than in my local pub. That's in line with most of the population, it has to be said, but not as a Sunday attendee. The reason for my non-sabbatical attendance is music. I thought I’d begin on a confessional tone.

The use of churches and cathedrals of all denominations has become an ever-growing trend for artists and promoters when selecting gig venues for forthcoming tours. These respected, iconic institutions have become more than buildings passed by without a thought, as part of our daily routines. They have become buildings where the devil's music can be heard, and in most cases enjoyed.

One of the more humorous religious faux pas’s I've witnessed was at the Union Chapel in London. A certain Americana dude was clearly relaxed by the liquid refreshment he was partaking whilst on stage. Looking up to the chapel's ceiling, he announced:

“Man, this place is fucking awesome." Putting his hand to his mouth, as in realisation of his utterance, he followed it up with, “Fuck, I don’t think I'm allowed to swear in here. I mean, shit." I’m sure St. Peter was smiling.

On a cold Saturday night, I once again joined the local brethren. I take my place on the wooden pews of Cores End United Reformed Church in the leafy (in summer) village of Bourne End, nestled between the local towns of High Wycombe and Maidenhead. Tonight is a jazz concert headlined by the acclaimed singer Sarah Moule, along with, as the programme notes state…”some of the best local jazz men around today”.

The last time I saw Sarah Moule perform was at the Stables in Wavendon on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. She was elegantly attired in evening dress, accompanied by her husband Simon Wallace on piano, not to be outdone in his dapper evening suit and crisp, white shirt. If that show was more akin to black tie and champagne, this evening is cardigans, tea and homemade cakes.

The church setting is small, cosy, comfortable and relaxed, with dress code erring to casual and wrap up warm.

Tonight Mark Aston on saxophone is compere and band leader, welcoming the small thermally wrapped audience. He is accompanied by John Coverdale (guitar), Nigel Fox (keyboards), John Monney (stick bass) and Mike Jeffries on drums.

The band open the show with a couple of Duke Ellington numbers: 'Don’t Get Around Much Anymore' and 'Take the A Train'.

Moule steps up to the microphone, having shed her cardigan. With Nigel Fox on keyboards, she offers a wonderful rendition of 'Prelude to a Kiss'. In just one song she demonstrates why she has established a reputation as one of the country’s leading jazz vocal talents.

The band are clearly having fun when they mash up the 1944 classic, 'You’re Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You” made popular by Dexter Gordon.

The Frank Loesser composition 'If I were a Bell' from the 1950 musical 'Guys and Dolls' has been covered by many jazz greats: Miles Davis and Stacey Kent quickly come to mind. Moule’s stylish version brings a freshness to the song due to her timing and phrasing. A cardigan replacement is required whilst John Coverdale takes a solo slot with the 1941 Lane/Freed composition 'How about You?' Coverdale's electric guitar chords stir up memories of Julie London’s spine tingling version of 'Cry Me a River'. He takes a well-deserved and enthusiastic round of applause from the appreciative crowd.

Next we are back to Duke Ellington with 'Cotton Tail', a tune from 1940. Although the tune is based on varied rhythm changes the band swings it with touches of New Orleans blues and ragtime. Who said it was cold?

Moule and the band close the first half with the Ella Fitzgerald classic, 'That Old Black Magic'. They offer a swing version which works really well, with Moule's pitch and range spot on.

During the break, I catch up with tonight's concert organiser Geoff Cronin.

He tells me, “On the whole, I’m pleased with the size of tonight's audience. One can never tell with jazz who has seen the adverts, etc. Most jazz people don’t seem to like prebooking tickets, which leaves the organiser with no feeling of safety! Jazz is a spontaneous kind of music, and I suppose the audience is therefore made up of a more spontaneous kind of person.”

"Another factor is the age range of people who like jazz. It’s more on the mature side, certainly in this area I would say! If younger people became more exposed to jazz, then they would find jazz performed live so much more interesting than they might imagine. Lots of young musicians are coming out of the colleges and universities, but because of the small number of venues to play in, they can't get to play and get paid enough to live on."

Cronin has been associated with the local Hedsor Jazz Club for over a decade, which has built up a regular and enthusiastic following.

“We struggle to pay the musicians enough, but most guest musicians like to come and play jazz at Hedsor because they can. Because you are always running with poor financial backing, you can hardly ever pay for advertising, which makes it all a vicious circle. As an organiser, I have often lost money."

Which begs the question, what is the motivation to continue?

His wry smile confirms he’s been asked this before.

“I carry on because I want people to actually hear live jazz. Like Duke Ellington, I think jazz should swing. I think within the improvisation there should be some tune. If people can identify with what they hear, you can usually see them smile, which is great. Jazz is both art and entertainment.”

Band and audience collectively refreshed with tea, wine and nibbles, they set off again with the popular jazz standard 'Just Friends'. Clearly this is a set of musicians who have played professionally and for fun over the years. They sound good with a limited amount of practice time for this particular gig. When it came to their solo slots, they excelled. No more than the keyboards of Nigel Fox on his rendition of Leonard Bernstein’s, 'Some other Time'.

They bring proceedings a little more up to date with Van Morrison’s 'Moondance', Mark Aston taking centre stage on clarinet. His rendition of Dave Brubeck’s 'Take Five' was “interesting” as he struggled with sticky clarinet pads!

Moule closed off the show with two Ella Fitzgerald classics: 'Where and When' and 'Cheek to Cheek' from the 1935 film 'Top Hat'. For once, I’m pleased Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers didn’t dominate proceedings.

One of the pleasures of attending small concerts like this is the ability to appreciate an artist's talent up close. Sarah Moule is on top of her game, it's a sheer pleasure to watch and hear note perfect phrasing throughout the evening (with or without cardigan). Yes, the programme notes were right, she was backed by some of the best local jazz men around today.

There is a nice touch at the end with a prayer and blessing offered by the church minister. Now you don’t get that at Ronnie Scott's.

Mainstream jazz programmes on various radio stations are viewed by many to be scheduled either too late in the day, or plonked in a badly selected noon slot. Unless you have a recording device, or access to iPlayer radio, many programmes can be difficult to capture.

Last year we had two films featuring the jazz greats, Miles Davis ('Miles Ahead') and Chet Baker ('Born to Be Blue') at multiplex screens across the UK. Whilst the films reminded, rekindled or introduced jazz to mass audiences, nothing really compares with a live set.

So when a church, a passionate jazz sponsor, a leading jazz vocalist and local musicians come together, what do you get? Answer: A concert to remember, one which will bring warmth and smiles throughout those long winter nights.

Owen finished the article with some YouTube of Sarah, which can be found at 
It was all published at 
 Now wasn't that nice? Thank you Owen.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Further Info:-

I had a chat on the phone with Clive late yesterday and he is very hopeful that both he and Mike Wills WILL be at Hedsor on Thursday. He confirmed that he has got a form of lymphoma, and occasionally this will make him suddenly tired (OK at 78 I know that one too!), and if that happens then Clive wont be able to get to Hedsor. However, he was feeling fine yesterday!

A piece of additional news is that Mike Jeffries has organised a band to play at the Bourne End Community Centre on Tuesday 7th February. He has Ken McCarthy with him on keyboard, and I'm sure there will be others who are known to us from Hedsor helping out as well. Actual lineup is to be confirmed, but I'm sure a fun evening will be had.

Mike Jeffries in Action