Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Another Tuesday, they come round as regularly as, well Tuesdays usually do.

And as it’s Tuesday, a little time to think about Hedsor Jazz, and in fact a little bit about some British Jazz Past.

BUT British Jazz Future, well this coming Thursday at The Hedsor Social Club, it is assured and exciting. Something to look forward to and something to look back on from the future as well. We have a very exciting session to look forward to this coming week, with a cast of stars

On trumpet and flugel horn, Stuart Henderson, on reeds various, Kelvin Christiane, on keyboard Ken McCarthy, on bass, Ester Ng, and our leader on drums, Martin Hart.

It might be a stellar cast, but our entry fee of £7 still applies, as does the start time of 8.30 pm. so put that in you diary for February 20th and, as they used to say when I was young, “smoke it”!

Last week was an enjoyable evening, with some superb trombone playing (and charts) from Nick Mills, and the usual quality saxophone playing of Duncan Lamont Jr. Some of those charts included Miles Davis's "DIG", where they found it hard to hide "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Tenor Madness".

My pictures from the evening are below.

Peter Hughes

Ken Thompson sat in for 2 tunes on guitar

Last week our bass player was Peter Hughes, and I had the opportunity, alongside 4 other Hedsor stalwarts, of seeing him again next day, this time with the Echoes of Swing Big Band at Cookham Rise Methodist Church. I have gone along to support this charity fundraiser for a number of years now, but this year I thought they were playing the best I had heard them and they were playing some very interesting charts too. All of the band are good readers and players, and usually only let down by a lack of solo improvisational skills. This year, it was all a very good listen. The end result was over £300 raised for a Methodist charity for needy children, “Action for Children”.

So, British Jazz Past.

These past few days I have been listening to some of the jazz that was around when I was a growing lad. Often, in my back bedroom in the upper reaches of our house in Hammersmith I would listen to Kenny Bakers Dozen on my bedside valve radio. This was a later evening event on the BBC Home Service, and I think it was preceded by a program called “Valentine Dyall, the Man in Black presents Appointment with Fear”. So a bit of smallish group jazz was very welcome coming after the dark!

Well, I have listened to some of the recorded output of Kenny Baker this week, but it drew me to look again at the playing of that wonderful innovator on the clarinet, Sandy Brown. No Sandy wasn’t part of the Dozen, but one thing leads to another!

Sandy started playing revivalist jazz in his university days and went on to become a leader in the trend towards British Mainstream Jazz. He had a unique clarinet sound, playing, as I remember, a simple system clarinet. He never went on to play saxophone as well, but was also an excellent pianist, as well as a bluesy singer with a wonderful gravely voice. He was one of Britain’s greats. He died too young in 1975 at the age of 46, sitting in his chair at home watching England play Scotland at rugby o his TV. He had a glass of Scotch in his hand at the time too!

He rose to fame in the mid 1950’s with a tune he wrote called “Go Ghana”. Although of Scottish parents, and definitely a Scotsman himself, he was born in India and had a great affinity with eastern and African rhythms. When Ghana became the first British “colony?” to be made independent in 1956, the tune “Go Ghana” became very popular. On the CD shown below, you will see that the original 10” LP is all there, but with many additional tracks as well. Well worth tracking down.

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