Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Jazz from Geoff
The Blog  24. 3. 2020

OK, we are all missing the live stuff, and we are all getting used to a closed environment, and maybe we are all getting used to a slightly modified diet. 

No, you can’t eat the loo rolls, or even cook with them, but they are not the only things now definitely NOT on the shelves.

That is of course if you can actually get to the shelves. Yesterday I tried my hand for the first time at ordering food online for home delivery. With wife June looking over my shoulder we logged in to Tesco, went through the list of what was available, gradually building up a modest shopping basket.

Then for the delivery slot.........none available until Mid April, yes, mid April, and that even included the opportunity of going to pick it up yourself!

OK, at least I could get onto Tesco’s web site. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose were unable to take my online call!!

So how can we cheer ourselves up?

I know many of you have a greater knowledge in depth of the jazz music we love than I have, but I thought I would share with you some of my jazz journey, but maybe not in a chronological order!

In this and future blogs I will provide links to some of the recordings I have made at Hedsor over the years and I will also publish links to music on the world wide web, both sound recordings and video. There is a LOT of great stuff around “out there”.

First this week, something to keep you quiet for at least 25 hours.

Some of you will have heard of Eddie Condon. Nominally a guitar and banjo player, but really a professional drunk, and gatherer of bands to play together in the roaring twenties around, at the start, Chicago, but he went on to run 3 clubs in New York.

He was much associated with players of the formulative music of the early white jazz that eventually became known as “Dixeland Jazz” and that then developed in the 1950’s to form “Mainstream”. How we all love labels!

Below, is an article I culled from a magazine eons ago, written by Steve Voce, which will put the link to the music into perspective.

“IF YOU take yourself to http://tinyurl.com/bao26ea you'll find a quite extraordinary library of Eddie Condon Town Hall concerts from the 40s. There are almost 50 half-hour broadcasts. The sound quality is surprisingly good considering the age of the material, and in any case one's ears soon adapt to it. Condon's concert series ran weekly from 21 May 1944 until 7 April 1945. There was the odd gap in the broadcasts and so the set above is, if not complete, almost so. In this version each programme in the list is identified by its opening number. If you mouse click on a programme, it will begin to play.
The wartime concerts were broadcast on the Blue Network before a live audience that was admitted free. Because of the popularity of Condon's music there was a capacity audience each week with many turned away. Condon drew on musicians working in the New York clubs (he had the band at Nick's). So Max Kaminsky and Gene Schroeder were regulars, but the pianists who played in the bands included Joe Bushkin, Art Hodes, Cliff Jackson, Norma Teagarden and Jess Stacy. These three were tremendously effective.

Featured in more specialised roles were James P Johnson, Willie The Lion Smith and Earl Hines. The brass involved Bobby Hackett, Muggsy Spanier, Wild Bill Davison, Yank Lawson, Rex Stewart, Wingy Manone, Hot Lips Page, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey, Miff Mole, Benny Mor­ton and, oddly. Bill Harris from the Herman band. Herman himself starred in one of the programmes, as did another bandleader of the time, Gene Krupa.
Condon used musicians from the staff of radio studios like Billy Butterfield and Ernie Caceres. Pee Wee Russell was the clarinettist on most programmes and Condon ribbed him throughout, referring to him as "The commando" and introducing him as "Miff Mole is the one with glasses, Pee Wee Russell is the one who needs them."
Pee Wee's contributions to these sessions are highly regarded, but I regard them as a handicap, the vagaries of his playing becoming tiresome after a while.
Much more satisfying was the work of Caceres who occasionally played clari­net in the ensembles, but more often took a feature number with Bushkin and the dependable Wettling, who was used in most broad­casts. Caceres baritone playing is seriously good and has an authority to rival Carney's.

The absentee who one would have expected to find in any Condon session was Bud Freeman. His omission was probably because of an incident from 1939. Bud's Summa Cum Laude band with Condon had been very successful in the musical Swingin' The Dream. After its short run, Bud was asked to take the band on tour. He dropped Eddie from the band because Eddie was drunk most of the time and Bud thought he would spoil the tour. Condon held a grudge for the rest of his life”.

Steve Voce

Last night that link http://tinyurl.com/bao26ea still worked, and will lead you into an adventure in 1940’s radio. Sit back and enjoy, but possibly not all in one week. When I was an apprentice, I worked a 47 hour week, so doing Condon in one go may be a bit exhausting! Just in case the link leads you back to me (I first mentioned this in 2013), I will try ripping the music into DropBox for future blogs. Feedback please via Octogeoff@outlook.com if the links don't work for you.

Now for some back Hedsor Jazz. 

will take you to 23rd May 2019 and Lester Brown and Mark Aston.

Please enjoy all of the approx 27 hours of jazz available via the above links.
 When you have done that you can all go and walk by yourself to get some fresh air! Please wear more than a G String though!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Jazz from Geoff

Well, that was how it all started, and that would be the words that with a search of Google would have got you to my blog in the first place. In more recent years, usually I have headed up my weekly blog with “Hedsor Jazz”, but to everyone’s disappointment, due to the incredibly unusual situation we all now find ourselves in, there is NO HEDSOR JAZZ until further notice.

As an over 70 year old with underlying health problems I have been persuaded (nagged might be a better word) to self isolate as much as possible, and I’m sure many of you will be in the same lonely boat. So, in the next few weeks I have decided that my blog will continue, although unable to tell you about gigs in the future, I can write up a bit about gigs in the past, point you at some shareable media with jazz music you may not have heard yet, and to put in an occasional link in my DropBox folder to recordings I have made at Hedsor Jazz in the past.

This being the first since the curfew began, I can let you see the photos from last weeks session with Alan Grahame and Terry Hutchins that were taken by Geoff Swaffield and Jim Donovan, and I can give you my first DropBox link for you download and listen to, perhaps even on a Thursday evening.

First the photos from what I was told “was light and happy music. Alan Grahame is amazing”.
I was also told that just as special and amazing was the bass player for the evening, non other than Andy Crowdy.

I know we will all miss the comradeship and chat we get from our jazz friends, both on Thursdays and at other times and places but maybe we can help by passing jazz links on to each other, and I am certainly prepared to facilitate this through my blog. To help in this, if you would like to communicate with me by email, please use the following email address. Octogeoff@outlook.com
I will only be using this email address for such jazz music related correspondence.

Don’t forget that ordinary steam radio does sometimes play jazz. Something I have used for decades is “Jazz Record Requests” now run on a Sunday afternoon from 4pm. It is on BBC Radio 3.

Michael Eagleton will still be running his Sunday Evening program on Marlow FM 97.5 called “Swing that Music”. Do check this out, because even if you are not within range of the FM broadcast, it is now available via an internet link, so check your way via https://www.marlowfm.co.uk/

So for my fist link to a recording from Hedsor jazz in the past.

I hope you enjoy this blast from the past, do let me know via that email address.

Until we meet again, keep safe and don’t forget to wash you hands!

Saturday, March 14, 2020


It is with deep regret that I have to announce that Hedsor Jazz will be CANCELLED for at least the next few weeks due to fears of a worsening cornona virus situation. We are looking at the possibility of a reopening of Jazz at The Hedsor Social Club on April 23rd, but that will depend on the circumstances that exist at that time.

I will attempt through my blog to keep you all informed, entertained and updated as the month goes by of any changes of plan.

We had hoped to continue with the published program, but some of those booked musicians have now expressed a wish to cancel their booking with Hedsor Jazz which has made our decision to do this more urgent.

Some of Hedsor Jazz’s regular clientele have also expressed an anxiety over coming out into Hedsor’s enclosed space and Martin Hart, John Dutton and myself all feel that the sensible option was to postpone our plans until a future date

As you may already be aware Cookhams Shirtlifters event tonight has already been cancelled, as has Marlow Jazz’s Tuesday Concert at The Royal British Legion Hall.

Hedsor Jazz WILL return, in the meantime stay safe.

Geoff C

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Shirtlifters Evening of Ineluctability

Since my blog yesterday I have had a message from Richard Kellaway, organiser of Cookham's traditional jazz band "The Fabulous Shirtlifters". 

The evening of ineluctability, due to take place on Saturday 14th, has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears. Like ourselves, he feels that "Sadly our clientele is in the high risk category"!

Tomorrows Hedsor Jazz is still scheduled to take place. Please ensure you follow the NHS Guidliness re contact.

Geoff C

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Hedsor Jazz

Yes, it IS my blogs heading this week. I know we are all concerned about the effects the Coronvirus is having on our different ways of life, and I have been asked if Hedsor Jazz will still be on this week.

The answer is YES. The powers behind the Hedsor throne have been consulted, and the consensus is that we carry on until we are told to stop by government. Obviously sensible precautions, again as recommended by the NHS, should be adhered to.

So, coming to entertain us this week (Thursday March 12th) we have a veteran of the music scene, our great friend Alan Grahame on vibes. Do read HIS webpage at:-

He will be partnered by Terry Hutchins on guitar and the back line will consist of Ken McCarthy on keyboard, Ester Ng on bass and of course Martin Hart on drums and leadership!

Do lookup Ester’s background too, at https://fiddlebop.org/v1/people_guest_esther.html
The more scientific pages on the net about Ester are less easy to understand!

The following week (March 19th) we will have an all saxophone front line of Robert Goodhew and Mike Wills. We will also have a return of Nigel Fox on keyboard. It should be a good evening. Both saxophonists have been part of the Hedsor Jazz scene over some years, Robert being newer to us than Mike. However Robert is a remarkable player and in my view should be better known than he is.

Last Thursday’s session with Ian Smith and Ollie Wilby was an enjoyable but mixed blessing. Neither of them tend to use the microphones to play in to, and it was noticeable that the people who sit more to the side of Hedsor had a more difficult sound to listen too. This is unfortunate, as the music generated was really very good.


The Gig Program list!
Some musicians really do only want to play acoustically. At one Brecon Jazz Festival concert, held in the open air, clarinet legend Kenny Davern, who was playing to probably 1000 people in the audience, wasn’t using the microphone provided. Some members towards the rear of the audience shouted to him to “please play into the mike”. He replied that if you wanted to hear him you should have got here earlier!

Sadly as we all get older, sound issues become more apparent!

So apart from adding the pictures, that is it for this week. I must now go and wash my hands!

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Following on from my words about the Duncan Lamont CD soon to be released by Tina May, you may like to read about the tribute evening to Duncan played recently in London's 606 club.


As you will see this is extracted from the London Jazz News.

We hope to get Tina and Duncan Jnr back to Hedsor sometime this year (possibly for our Christmas party Gig, December 17th) so do keep watching this Hedsor "Jazz from Geoff" blog!

Another postscript to my last blog. One of the tunes played in last Thursdays celebration Quintet evening was "Without a Word of Warning". Is this the same tune as on the album "Once in a While" by Dean Martin?

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

What a good week was had for jazz last week!

We had the Clive Burton Celebration Quintet at Hedsor (photos below), and on Friday, with 2 other Hedsor fans, I went and saw Tina May at Norden Farm. Both excellent events and Norden Farm was a sell out!

It has been a real privilege to hear such wonderful jazz so near to home, AND to call many of the players involved friends too.

Coming this week (Thursday March 5th) we have more jazz at Hedsor that is in the world class category.

Trumpet player, and raconteur, Ian Smith, will be accompanied by saxophonist Ollie Wilby. The pair will be backed by Ken McCarthy on keyboard, Peter Hughes on bass and of course Martin Hart on drums.

Hopefully Ollie will be able to stay on a little longer after Thursdays session at Hedsor. Last time he was with us he had to dash off to catch a plane at 5am to some foreign parts. It is rumoured that even jazz musicians like to sleep sometimes!

It is of course one of the joys of Hedsor Jazz that you can converse with the musicians after the gig. Try that at some of Britain’s larger concert halls!

Tina May was saying during the Friday night concert that she has recently recorded a complete album of Duncan Lamont tunes and, of course, she has Duncan Lamont Jnr on the album. Do watch out for it’s release. Hedsor Jazz has of course had both Duncan senior, Duncan junior and Tina herself play for us many times in the past. Do spread the news about Hedsor Jazz, we do have significant jazz stars come and play for us.

The last couple of weeks I have looked back on the music I listened to as a teenager. My route to jazz, and to playing trad jazz trumpet, started in my parents front room in Hammersmith.

For some reason we had at home a coaching horn, which somehow seems to have got lost in more recent years. But it was brass and copper and a 4 foot long horn. So, I started to blow some of the notes that came out of the jazz 78’s I was playing.

In those far off days of revivalist jazz (slightly before the trad jazz days of the late 50’s early 60’s), that meant, of course, Humphrey Lyttelton.

I eventually saved up enough pennies to buy a Selmer trumpet from a shop in The Charing Cross Road. Around that time LP’s came out, and we had a proper electric graphone at home in that front room. So, I started to accompany Humph as he transitioned into mainstream.

Some of that music is available on a LAKE CD album (LACD238), including “Glad Rag Doll, “Swing Out”, and “Christopher Columbus”. It was the band just before Tony Coe was drafted in, and about the time Stan Greig got called back up for the Suez Canal Crisis! He played drums on those sessions. When he eventually returned from his callup, he played the piano!

In those days my live jazz experience was via “The 100 Club” so I saw many of the people now listed on these 2 cd’s (yes, LACD 238 is a double album!).

I know nostalgia does cast a rosy glow over most things, BUT I think the music is good enough for me to recommend you go find this compilation.

However good recorded music can be, nothing replaces the live version.
That too can also always be played back, but  in memory!