is what this week’s blog is all about, having given you all my report on the Swanage
Jazz Festival, now is the time to concentrate on the weekly festival of jazz
that we have, and have had, at Hedsor Jazz every week.
coming this week, OUR BAND, yes, I do believe that we will be getting The Clive
Burton Celebration Quintet. I am unsure of who is on bass, but other than that
it will be our usuall rhythm section plus Lester Brown on trumpet and Mike Wills
on reeds. It is SO good that Mike can drive again and join us at Hedsor as in the days of yore. I do really appreciate
that he does come to us all the way from Oxford.
missed 2 of our Thursday sessions due to my Dorset tour, but I have been sent photos, and for the
Latin evening, a report, so all is now reproduced below for your edification!
photos from last weeks session provided by Geoff Swaffield. I don’t know the bass player (Ester Ing), but I was told she was very good!
Next is that
report, and some of the photos, from the Latin evening on July 11th all
by Alan Peppitt, with a few Swaffield photos thrown in!
Hi Geoff, Here is my report on last
night's Latin night: A stalwart collective of jazz muso's assembled and
prepared themselves for an 8:30 start. The personnel (or should I say the human
resources) consisted of Nigel Fox pno, Andy Crowdy bss, Martin Hart drms,
Mike Jeffries congas, Alan Grahame vibs & timbales I believe, also
strutting their stuff were Lester Brown tpt & flgl.and finally the return
of the Prodigal Son - Mike Wills complete with reeds. A very good
night of Latin music ensued which, I assume, everybody enjoyed. There were some
amazing solos from the 3 man percussion section -certainly to my ears, and
still on a personal note I particularly liked the overall sound when all the
band was playing together. No, I don't mean to scoff, but the collective blend
of sounds reminded me of the Big Band days. An interesting set-list culminating
with a sexy version of Fungy Mama. A
shame no Senoritas, who can sway, were available. However, the last
number, a near riotous, performance of Tico Tico ended the evening with a
rollicking finale. Well done everybody and thanks to all involved for another exceptional
night of jazz.
As you swelter In this weeks heat wave please don’t
forget our special evening on August 1st, Sarah Moule and The Genius
of Duke Ellington. Do please buy your tickets in advance, as we need to know
how many fish paste sandwiches to prepare!
One final note, whilst in Dorset I visited Ken Rankine's sister on Portland.
As you may know, Ken died a year after Linda's husband, and this year she is finding this double loss a bit more difficult. He was always a great supporter of his family, and it is this support she misses.
We miss Ken as our bass player and we have found him difficult to replace. How much more difficult it must be for Linda. You cannot replace a brother, as I'm sure many of us know from our own experience.
One thing Tina May said to me after our losses of Clive and Ken, "We are all one big jazz family".
In previous years
I have reviewed the Swanage Jazz Festival in more than one part, covering in
detail all the acts I had seen over the 3 days of the event and there was usually
a lot to view and take in. This year I think it would be unfair to do this. The
2019 Jazz Festival was basically a salvage operation by a group of people who
hadn’t run it before. There opportunity to run the event on the scale of the
past was limited.
On Friday there
were NO Festival events at all. There were 2 gigs put on by private sponsorship,
one of which I did manage to see, the open air one behind The Red Lion pub with
Sarah Boulter and her “Not Just Sax” band . I just happened to be in the pub
for a meal, and the gig was a good one. Some of us old hands managed to get to
it, although it was very poorly advertised. Her playing and singing was of a
high order and the band an excellent first class local band. Personnel consist
of Sarah herself on saxophones, Ray Shea keyboards, Pete Maxfield bass and
Johnny Eden drums.
Saturday we had to
collect our wrist bands to show at every venue to ensure we had paid our dues. Or
in my case wrist band. Seemingly as a purchaser of a weekend stroller I was
only allowed one band for the 2 days! One for each day would have been more
hygienic. There was time to pick up this wrist band on Saturday morning, but
there were some anxiety moments as the only music in the morning (the street
parade) started at 11am and the wrist bands were only available from 10am. In
the end there was ample time as there were definitely fewer people about, the reduced
program obviously having an attendance effect. To be honest, the advertised
gigs in total were not worth the overall cost of ticket, travel and accommodation,
and I know many who didn’t go because of this. I personally want the festival
to survive and flourish, so I would have gone along anyway.
The street parade
was a very limited event this year, only going up and down the closed seafront
road. There were the usual number of musicians, but a much smaller traditional
audience and dancers. It didn’t encompass the whole town as in the past either,
and the bucket collection fund raising must have suffered. It also missed the
point that in previous years the parade announced the festival to all in the
town, and encouraged the non committed holiday maker to maybe get involved with
the jazz that was going on in the town, some of it free.
Now here I must
explain that I am no longer able physically to get to all the venues because of
their distance from my B&B and my inability to walk up hill, so mainly I
supported the gigs in the Con Club and Mowlem area. This is sad, because half
of what was available wasn’t so to me. A point of note here for future
organisers. Make sure the idiot public know where all the venues are. I saw
people looking at street signs for “The Centre” and asking around other people
for where it was. The Centre is only a youth club centre, not central to
Swanage. It is on the way out of town next to the Methodist Church!
Saturday in the
Con Club the first group I saw were “Thokozille Collective”. This is a band
playing South African inspired township jazz, and is led by Dan Somogyi on
keyboard and guitar. They had done an exchange tour in SA, and were a very
accomplished group of musicians. Dan, who I talked with at the end of their gig,
knew our late great Zane Cronje. The rest of the Collective were made up of Rob
Palmer on guitar, Terry Quinney saxophones, Jon Lloyd on saxophones, Jack
Shaughnessy on bass and Neil Evans on drums.
My next viewing in
the Con Club was a lady singer called Susie Kimber doing her tribute to the
Jazz Divas. This is where it became obvious that the new organisers had saved
on a sound engineer. The keyboard overloaded the amp and it was all very loud
except for the saxophone, who didn’t have a mike. It was impossible to actually
enjoy this, I’m sure they were all doing there best, but… “They” were Paul
Francis on stick bass, Terry Quinney (again) on tenor sax, Guy Gardener on that
keyboard, and Dave Mayne on drums.
Then for me the
main event of the weekend, Nigel Price’s Organ Trio with Vasilis Xenopoulos on
tenor sax. OK most of the Hedsor faithful know all about this wonderful band of
musicians. New into it was the drummer, an Italian who’s name I didn’t collect
(he wasn’t the drummer listed in the program). He was superb, as were the band.
Sadly this gig was almost stopped by the extremely loud disco coming from the
room below. It was so loud the chair I was sitting on was actually vibrating.
Bad planning I’m afraid. BUT “OUR” band continued, and they were really
wonderful. This gig was a proper 2 hours of music with an interval, so as it
hadn’t started until 8.45pm, I stayed to the end and went “B&B home” at the
highlight of my day was a free venue, and yes, it was again behind the Red Lion
and again it was Sarah Boulter’s “Not Just Sax”, but with an additional member
added in from Friday, non other than Derek Nash. 2 hours of bliss, albeit also
2 hours of sitting in the sun. It did go on longer, but by then, I needed to
move. It was wonderful, swinging, singing jazz in the best modern jazz
tradition, and drew in a big crowd. I think that Sarah funded Derek by
organising a raffle, and she should be congratulated for her initiative. Derek
had to leave very promptly at the end as he had to perform in Chelsea’s 606
club that night. Talk about tennis players stamina, how do jazzers do it!
Next I was back in
the Con Club for a short dose of trad performed by “The Devon Magnolia
Jazzmen”. Most of the more traditional music was being performed in that
eccentric “Centre”, and this very commendable band playing New Orleans style
jazz only seemed to have attracted a dozen listeners to the Con Club.
Following on from them
was an extraordinarily gig for a jazz festival, Earl Okin. A singer and story
teller, who was probably at his best back in the 1980’s. It was an act more
suited to a comedy club, although he has an extraordinary ability to sing
sounding like a trumpet player. He could play both guitar and keyboard and it
would have been good in a more intimate evening atmosphere. Sadly in daylight
it was just very odd.
To finish my 2019
Swanage Festival I thought I would try out the Mowlem Show Bar. I knew where
the Mowlem Theatre was, but I still had to ask where the show bar was. Not
where I thought it would be, opening out to the sea on the ground floor, but
half way up the Mowlem Theatre. I wanted to see The Veronique Joly Trio with
the renowned vibs player Roger Beaujolais. I got there in what I considered to
be good time, and did get a seat. BUT the layout of the bar meant that in front
of the band there were big arm chairs, and they were all taken, and from half
way back to the back were rows of upright chairs. That would not be too bad if
the sound system could cope with the building. It couldn’t, again in the end (at
about half time), I left.
I am sure that the
new organisers want it to continue. I want it to continue, but it must become a
better value product. Yes I know I couldn’t get to see it all. I am also aware
that a lot of other jazz fans are in their 80’s, so I dare say many others were
limited in there choices by physical inability. But the acts generally were not
of Festival Quality, the social side of the festival, meeting friends from the
past, was not helped by the lack of a suitable meeting place that the two
marquees and field and food in between used to provide.
Next week, back to
the £7 value Hedsor Jazz, and in 2 weeks time the £10 value Hedsor Jazz with
Sarah Moule and “The Genius of Duke Ellington”
Since writing this
I have had correspondence with the chair of the organising committee, Paul
Kelly. I will quote parts of this as it does explain the reasoning behind many
of this years decisions.
Many thanks for your feedback. I have had a quick read of your
notes and clearly you are a very experienced jazz promoter with a good
knowledge of quality music. I am really sorry that you felt the artistic
programme was poor. The names may have been unfamiliar to you, but we’ve
had feedback from the audience and jazz critics that was very positive about
some of the lesser known names. I take your point about the PA and
technical aspects and we will address that next year, though actually most of
the rooms were too small to need much PA at all. But we will be reviewing
all that properly in the next couple of weeks.
I wouldn’t normally reply in detail to your comments, but as you
are a jazz promoter, there is a backstory that you are unaware of which is
worth relating. Swanage Jazz Festival is a business and like every
business it needs a sustainable financial model. The team under Fred Lindop did
a fantastic job for 28 years. But when they decided they couldn’t continue, for
understandable reasons, they left without a clear succession plan. That created
uncertainty and Swanage Jazz Festival nearly folded. They also gave about 70%
of the reserves they had built up to local charities. A very nice gesture but
it reduced the festival’s reserves and ability to weather variances in an
increasingly risky and crowded marketplace.
Nigel Price also did a superb job, especially as he had never
run a festival before. But he increased the costs (and the ticket prices)
and the only way he was able to finance the 2018 Festival was, in addition to
increased ticket prices, by raising £20,000 in crowd funding from jazz
supporters. That was an astonishing achievement. But you cannot ask the public
for additional money like that every year. His business model
was thus not sustainable. Nigel’s Festival also lost money and he had to
do a further round of crowd funding to pay off the debts.
The new festival team and I took on a Festival carrying losses –
so no money in the Bank with which to get things going and promote the
Festival. We only came together as a Team to take it on in late-January
so we had a very short planning and marketing period. It would have been
easy to postpone this year’s Festival altogether, but we felt continuing in
some form would be better than no Swanage Jazz Festival at all this year. And
I’m glad we did. As were the large number of musicians and audiences who thoroughly
enjoyed the weekend.
Looking at the costs (I wrote Nigel’s Arts Council bid that
pulled in £15,000 in 2018), I could see that the infrastructure costs of the
much-loved marquees on Sandpit Field were between £20,000 and £25,000 for
marquees, staging, lights, PA, fencing, loos, health and safety, electrical
certificates etc. The artist costs were extra to that. I felt those
infrastructure costs were just too much of a risk to take on this year,
especially given the very short lead time. It also needs a team with some
experience to set it all up and manage it which indoor venues don’t require.
For most of the new Festival team this was their first Festival and they did
So, this year we opted for a ‘scaled down’ festival (though
still with 40 concerts) and to use indoor venues to reduce costs and risks. It
was a very sensible business-focussed decision. I want to create a
sustainable festival model for Swanage, so it’s still here in 30 years
time. We will review the decision on Sandpit Field – and scrutinise all
the associated costs as well - for future years. But you can buy quite a
lot of good bands for £20,000 and the Mowlem Theatre seemed to work really well
as a venue. That’s an observation, not a decision.
We’re about to survey this year’s audience to ask them how much
extra they’d be willing to pay for a ticket to cover the costs of bringing back
the Marquees. I think the Sandpit Field marquees could easily add £30 -
£40 to this year’s £85 ticket price. Some people might find the cost of the
view just a little too much. It’s a balancing act.
I also want to keep part of the Festival as a platform for the
best in the South West. But we can only do this if the Festival is
financially sustainable. So thank you for supporting us this year.
I am pretty certain we have broken even or better, so there will be
a Swanage Jazz Festival in 2020. After last year that has been a really
important hurdle to clear.
Please keep the faith and come back and enjoy another great
weekend of jazz next year.
PS we had a lovely email from Fred Lindop yesterday saying how
much he enjoyed the Festival and how pleased he was that we have taken it on.
Wednesday July 17th As mentioned in my last blog, I am away at the moment, and the blog report of my experience of this years Swanage Jazz Festival will come a little later in the month. In the meantime, have a postcard from Swanage!
This Thursdays gig can be read about in last weeks blog!
Hedsor Jazz will be without me for the next 2 sessions,
BUT it will still be exciting jazz that I will be sorry to miss. Yes, it is my annual
pilgrimage to the south. Swanage, Portland and other places.
So just in case I don’t get another opportunity to tell
you who is coming, here is the listing for the rest of this month.
July 11th An Evening featuring, but not
exclusive, to Latin Jazz.
This will feature a number of our friends including
Jezz Cook on guitar, Mike Wills on reeds, Alan Grahame on vibs and percussion,
Mike Jeffries on additional percussion, Martin Hart on drums, Nigel Fox
keyboard and Peter Hughes on bass. And you get all of them for your £7 entry.
As I wont be there I hope someone will take some photo‘s of the evening for my
use in a future blog.
July 18th will be our usual rhythm section
fronted by Andy Gibson on trumpet and Mark Aston on reeds. Again a photographic record
of the evening would be good to have!
July 25th we have The Clive Burton Celebration Quintet. Yes, now Mike is able to
drive again we can get the full Celebration Quintet back together again, with
Mike Wills on reeds and Lester Brown on trumpet and flugel horn.
And then we have our
Sarah Moule, Simon Wallace, Dave Bitelli and “The Genius
of Duke Ellington”.
Last week’s session with Stuart Henderson and Anatoliy
Vyacheslavov was up to our usual standards too. My photos of our very
entertaining evening are below,
Sir Michael Weinblatt on Raffle Duty
and IF you have the technology you can download and hear
it all via
Time flies I used to be
told and “they” were right.
I am already preparing for my annual pilgrimage to
Swanage, this year a restricted program, but at least a program of JAZZ!
But of course there are a
number of jazz events nearer home. Hedsor Jazz doesn’t stop, and there is
always something to talk about in both Hedsor Jazz past and Hedsor Jazz future.
Last week was slightly different.
Two front liners who wanted to play almost entirely acoustically. It’s a pity
that the mic wasn’t used for many of the announcements, because trumpeter Ian
Smith was very witty and amusing. He
has lectured on Modern and Renaissance Poetry at universities on both sides of
the Atlantic, and his recitation of some of the lyrics of
the tunes played was a joy. I just hope all of the audience heard him.
The music was a joy too, much more Swing than
bop, with shades of Mainstream and Emmet Berry too. Ian’s companion at the
front, Ollie Wilby on tenor sax, obviously liked Ben Webster and often sounded
like him too. Two other guests appeared in the rhythm section for this session, our regular keyboard dep Ken McCarthy, and a bass player I hadn’t had the joy of
hearing in about 10 years, Thomas Pederson. I think our regular drummer made an
impression too! Martin received an email on Friday from Ian:-
“Dear Martin Thanks for last night - great company, lovely
people, great music and some COOKING work with drums, cymbals, sticks AND
brushes! Looking forward to seeing you in the autumn, and
both Ollie and I really enjoyed ourselves and would love to come back to
Hedsor. All bestIan”
His reference to “Autumn” refers to concert to take place
on October 12th at Woodley with Martin. Definitely Jazz Future.
My pics from the night are below
More Jazz Future for Hedsor Jazz, as this Thursday July 4th,
we have a return of trumpeter Stuart Henderson and saxophonist “Tolly”. That is
going to be another stormer of a jazz evening. All that fun for just £7 too.
I think we are very fortunate at Hedsor Jazz to get such
talented musicians to come and entertain us. I have begun to wonder if going to
jazz festivals is at all worthwhile. Every week we get a jazz festival style performance
at The Hedsor Club.
One event I want you all to pay particular attention to
is coming up on August 1st. We have been fortunate to get a set that
have been touring London’s premier clubs.
“The Genius of Duke Ellington” brings a friend back to
Hedsor that we were introduced to by dear Ken Rankine, singer Sarah Moule (she
sings with “The Sound of 17” Big Band that Ken was bass player for). This time
she is bringing her husband, the renowned pianist Simon Wallace plus an Italian
saxophonist, Dave Bitelli, to sing and play their way through the music of Duke
Ellington, helped out by members of our own rhythm section.
This will be one of Hedsor Jazz’s special evenings with
an 8.00pm start to accommodate the buffet that we will have at half time. The
evening will have an entry fee of £10, and tickets will be available by the end
of this week. See the poster below. Please make this concert as widely known as
CD Listened to this week
As a lifelong collector of recorded jazz (a 78 of Sid
Phillips Clarinet Marmalade was one of my first) I still look through the
charity shops for CD’s. Last weeks swinging session and references to Ben
Webster has been topped of by a 99p purchase of Count Basie CD of Standards.
Count Basie’s band could always swing and these tunes
often caused me to whistle (in the days when I could), they are memorable tunes!
This particular collection (on the Verve Compact Jazz label) doesn’t actually
have Ben Webster on it (most of the recordings are from the late 60’s and early
70’s) but some of the luminaries of the Basie band are present, Joe Newman,
“Lockjaw” Davis, Urbie Green, Freddie Green, Sonny Payne. What a selection of
players he had, and now, they are all staying with me!!There are probably clones of thisCD out there somewhere, its Verve records 841
197-2. Cover art below