Saturday, July 20, 2019


Swanage 2019 A View in Retrospect

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 end.



Sunday 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”

Geoff C

POST SCRIPT

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.


Dear Geoff

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 brilliantly.

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. 

Kind regards

Paul Kelly

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 17, 2019

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!

Well I am on holiday! Enjoy,

Geoff

Tuesday, July 09, 2019


Blog Date 9th July 2019

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 very special

August 1st evening!

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


So for a week or so, That’s it from me Folks

Tuesday, July 02, 2019


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 best     Ian

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 you can.


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 this  CD out there somewhere, its Verve records 841 197-2. Cover art below




Tuesday, June 25, 2019


There are always things to look forward to at HEDSOR JAZZ.

This week (June 27th) is no exception, except that we only have recommendations, not actual previous experience, for this weeks front pairing.

Trumpeter Ian Smith and saxophonist Ollie Wilby.

If you look back to one of my May blogs you will see that they both have good cv’s. Duncan Lamont Jr recommended Ollie, and last weeks tenor man Kelvin Christiane had praise for Ian. To back those at the front we have Ken McCarthy on keyboard, Martin on drums and a bass player new to Hedsor, Thomas Pedersen from Denmark.

So a Thursday night session full of promise, and all for £7 entry.

For your £7 last week we had a real treat. After all the confusion of bass players names and a trumpet guest who will be with us on another occasion, but sadly wasn’t with us last week, we had not only Kelvin, who stuck to his tenor sax all evening, but a really fine trombone player, NICK MILLS. It was a really good session, with a front line combination that we haven’t had too frequently since dear Clive left us for his place in a higher plane brass band! I was apprehensive, as Jan was with us, but it all passed off very well indeed, and Jan enjoyed it very much. Nick is a fine trombone player, and we will undoubtedly have him again. It was refreshing to hear that trombone/sax sound again at Hedsor Jazz, and Nick introduced us to some new tunes, which was very refreshing.






I had a phone conversation with saxophonist Frank Griffith last week, and can give you advance notice that he will be with us on November 28th. Frank now lives in Liverpool, so we will be included in his Autumn tour! He did point out that my blog, and much of our online advertisements, don’t mention Hedsor Clubs post code. Just for the record it is SL8 5ES. I hope that helps all the people to navigate their bus to us now. We have often wondered why it never got to us in the past!

I want to look back now to that great session we had with Nigel Price and John Donegan on June 13th. I quoted (or more probably paraphrased) one of our audience for that night. No, he didn’t take offence, but he did email me a great write up about his view of the evening, so here it is….in full!

“I am not usually rendered (almost) speechless, but last night's gig I was!  It was a truly awesome performance - and I do mean AWESOME - the artistry, creativity and technical skills involved had to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Nigel Price demonstrated phenomenal technique and achieved what I, as a lifelong guitar enthusiast, thought to be impossible. John Donegan, not to be outdone, also contributed some incredible piano work, the speed of which was mind-boggling.   Stuart Barker on bass almost played out of his skin - nice work. Martin Hart rose to the occasion with some very tasty drum fills. I, for one, will be remembering this night of superb musicianship for a long time to come.

I said earlier that I would be stuck for words - I lied! 

Regards Alan Peppett”

I would also like to mention that Alan was told last week by his oncologist that he is now completely clear of the cancer that he has been treated for for the last 5 years. It is just wonderful to hear news like that.

One final retrospective of that session with John Donegan and Nigel Price.


John had his new cd with him that night, and I have now had a chance to really listen to it. Called “Siamsa Vol1” it is a collection of Contemporary Compositions inspired by his Irish Roots. I enjoyed it very much. No it isn’t Bop, but it does have some great female voice from Catherine Donegan, and some superb soprano sax from Tommaso Starace. All the compositions are by John, and obviously his piano playing is fully featured too. The album title gives a clue to there being another to follow. Do check it out via his web page:- www.johndoneganjazz.com


Thursday, June 20, 2019

STOP PRESS


Tonight one of our headline guest is unable to be with us.

In Matt Holland's place we have trombonist NICK MILLS

Check out 



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Correction

Terry DAVIS will be on bass this coming Thursday



Coming to Hedsor Jazz this Thursday, June 20th

Is a trumpet player who hasn’t been to Hedsor Jazz before.  
Matt Holland

His CV looks exciting!

His résumé includes touring the world with the likes of Burt Bacharach and Roy Ayers, as well as live performances on Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice and a special X-Factor show with Robbie Williams.
Matt has also spent time in the studio recording for Ray Charles and eight Van Morrison albums.
He will be accompanied by a saxophonist who HAS been before, and who has often played more than one saxophone at the same time, a la Roland Kirk. Yes Kelvin Christiane will be with us again. So putting the two together seems like a good idea. Usual start time and usual entry fee. DO TELL FRIENDS, we really are getting some very talented musicians coming to play at Hedsor these days, and I’m NOT ignoring our regular guys in that at all. Martin will be leading the backing group, (sometimes from behind his drum kit), with Ken McCarthy on keyboards and Terry Hutchins on bass. 
It would be nice for our finances if we had a larger audience. 
It would also more fun for the musicians too.
Kelvin at Hedsor on a previous visit

Those of you who braved the weather last week (well, really only the weather forecast!) were entertained to a world class performance, it was a real WOW. I need not say more than Nigel Price.

But I will, because we also had that wonderful pianist John Donegan. What a night. They didn’t know each other! But by the time they got to play “You’d be So Nice to Come Home to” they had both realised that the other was very talented. 15 minutes of chase, “I can do better than you", changes!

We had one or three musicians in the audience and Roy Hole who was sitting with me said at the end of that tune “How about that then”! Another said if only his pupils had come, they would have learnt more than he could ever teach them in that one evening!
And we did have some students there. Our Brunel University helpers (with Instagram anyway) had told me they were going to come. All through the first half I looked out for them, but no sign. Then at the beginning of the interval, there were our two, plus a friend. They had got off the train at the wrong station and had walked …. from Cookham! “What lovely scenery” is all they said!
Nigel emailed later Thanks for having me. I look forward to seeing you all again at some point.

Cheers Nigel 

And John said 

Keep well and hope to see you again in the not too distant future. Best wishes,  John


More photos from last week (mine and Geoff Swaffield's) are below




Next week, June 27th, another combination of talents who haven’t been to Hedsor before, trumpeter Ian Smith and saxophonist Ollie Wilby.
Hedsor Jazz....EVERY THURSDAY!
ps. I have no idea why blogspot sometimes puts a white background to my text.