Thursday, November 24, 2022

 STOP THE PRESSES     18.52 24. 11. 22

Tonights gig 

Ollie Wilby cannot make it tonight, and he will be replaced by ALAN BARNES



Tuesday, November 22, 2022

I realize that my blog over recent years has become very Hedsor orientated, but I am proud that with many leaders and helpers over the past 20 years, Hedsor Jazz has run every Thursday that it was legally allowed to do, with the exception of the occasional week off for Christmas holidays!

At Hedsor we have never played the Avant Garde, the cutting edge of jazz is really for a different audience. One of the audience of Marlow Jazz that I met at their last event (Alan Barnes and Greg Abate) said how nice it was that bop tunes were being played there. He lived in London and the young musicians playing in many of the gigs available to him there were playing music that didn’t hark back to that, or any earlier, era, so “Straight No Chaser” was a tonic for his ears, to which I HAD to mention that we often hear tunes like that at Hedsor Jazz.

Last night I watched The BBC Young Jazz Musician of The Year final. The contestants were all technically excellent, all under the age of 25, and all I’m sure will have fulfilling and exciting rolls playing jazz into the future. But many didn’t lean on jazz’s history for their inspiration. Much of their repertoire was tonal and/or compositional, albeit somewhat overshadowed by heavy drumming.

Only 2 players got loud and enthusiastic applause from the audience. Both of their performances had melody as well as tonality. Sadly, neither of them were winners. Do look out for it in BBC iPlayer and let me know what you think. I may be wrong; it has been known!!

As I listened I compared it in my head (yes, my head is STILL a wrap) with last week's session at Hedsor Jazz. (A session that in fact will be somewhat replicated at Marlow Jazz on December 13th).

https://www.marlowjazz.co.uk/DECEMBER2022POSTER.pdf

Alan Grahame played the vibes. He is 95, and yet harmony, melody and swing were all there. SO was tonality MJQ style as he played his feature number “Milano”.

The whole evening was delivered to us by 4 musicians over 80, and one of younger years (who grew up via The Berkshire Youth Jazz Orchestra). It was an absolute delight to be there. Alan was supported by Max Brittain on guitar, Ken McCarthy on keyboard, Andy Crowdy on bass and Martin Hart on drums. You won’t find a better evening of jazz anywhere no matter what you pay, but you may find its equal on December 13th!

As an added bonus, the audience last week also raised over £100 for Children in Need. Many thanks for supporting great causes.

Ken McCarthy, Andy Crowdy, Max Brittain, Martin Hart, Alan Grahame


Yes we do of course get younger players at Hedsor. They also all produce some wonderful vibrant music.

On December 8th we are filling the gap in our published program by inviting Alam Nathoo and Nick Mills to return to us.

Ken McCarthy, Alam Nathoo and Nick Mills


What a pairing they were earlier in the year, and what a finish they will add to our year which has, as it’s finale, our Christmas Party on December 15th which will be led by trumpeter Stuart Henderson.

Peter Hughes, Stuart Henderson, Martin Hart and Alan Barnes

 

    









But we haven’t finished with November YET, and for our next session (November 24th) we have two wonderful musicians coming to Hedsor Jazz, Ian Smith on trumpet and verse (come and find out what I mean) alongside saxophonist Ollie Wilby. We will also welcome back for 2 weeks keyboard player Nigel Fox in place of Ken McCarthy, who is renewing his energies by taking a holiday "up North"!

Terry Davis, Ian Smith, Martin Hart and Ollie Wilby











I really do feel that having Hedsor Jazz in my life has been, and I hope will continue to be, a privileged part of life.

A life where I have listened live to some of jazz’s legendary players. But Hedsor Jazz has given me a different dimension, the friendship of some of those players. Why not share that joy with some of your friends who haven’t had the Hedsor Jazz Experience before and bring them along?

 

Having written all of the above, I am now off to have my head examined AGAIN!!

 

Geoff C 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Good Morning England!

As many of you are aware this coming Friday, November 18th, is “Children in Need” Day. Hedsor Jazz is going to recognise the proximity of our jazz night (THURSDAY) to this by passing round a collecting box in order for you to contribute to this good cause. So, be a good scout and be prepared to stuff money into our box.



It is a somewhat suitable jazz night on Thursday 17th to do this, as one of our guests was for many years associated with daytime TV programs, and I quote from his own web page: -

 

He spent eight years with the trio on ATV’s midday show ‘Lunch Box’, also providing the incidental music for numerous TV series including “Dotto”, “$64,000 Question”, The Carrol Levis Show, “Face the Mike”, Roy Castle’s Room”, “The Benny Hill Show”, The Two Ronnies, Morecambe & Wise, Crackerjack and the Top of the Pops TV orchestra.

 

Who am I referring to? None other than vibraphone player and percussionist ALAN GRAHAM. He will be joining us on Thursday alongside guitarist Max Brittain and all will be backed by our returning leader on drums Martin Hart and his trio. What’s not to like?

 

I know that last week, trumpeter Lester Brown announced that this week we would also have the company of The High Wycombe Naked Ladies Trampoline Team performing to music at the far end of the room, but unfortunately they have had to cancel. This is just one of life’s little ups and downs but it will of course mean that the risk of neck cramp for jazz lovers will be much reduced! My primary school teacher always told us to face the front anyway!

 

Last week's jazz was another in the trial of us all facing another way, and this week we will give it another go. So far the omens have been good but do let us know what you think of sitting in front of the band and all facing the entrance. 


Musically last week with Lester on trumpet and Mike Wills on reeds, and with Mike Jeffries depping for Martin on drums was great entertainment. They were also joined for one number in the second set by singer Paul Cherry. And all of this for just £10!


My photos are below from last week.






 














Singer Paul Cherry






















Coming at the end of November (Thursday 24th) we have a welcome return of Trumpeter Ian Smith alongside saxophonist Ollie Wilby. 


Ian’s interview with Ken Clark, and their discussion of trumpeter Lee Morgan can still be heard on BBC Sounds.



 






That’s it for now folks, Keep Coming! 

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Another Tuesday and another blog, and a bit like politics, a week is a long time!

Last Thursday I had to have a surgical procedure (yes, scalpel on scalp!), and have discovered the hard way that it is never an enjoyable process, and that trying to get follow up from any medic at a weekend is nigh on as impossible as winning the lottery.

It also meant that I missed a wonderful jazz session at Hedsor Jazz with Al Nicholls and Max Brittain, but I also missed the experiment in turning our concert room through 90 degrees.

It will be run like it again this week, and I just hope I can be there, but please do let us know what YOU, our audience, think of putting the band at the entrance end of the room instead of in front of the stage. We really do need to know what you think of it.

Pictures of the evening (provided by Geoff Swaffield) are below. Musically, I have been told, that all who missed it, me included, missed a wonderful evening of jazz. Boo Hoo!!






This coming week (Thursday November 10th) also trying out the altered orientation we will have “The Clive Burton Celebration Quintet”. Almost, as although we will have Lester Brown on trumpet and Mike Wills on reeds, we wont have Martin Hart on drums, as he is still away navigating the globe (well, near the equator anyway). We will have on drums again as last week Mike Jeffries.

The following Thursday, November 17th, no matter what the orientation of the room is, we will welcome back that vibraphonist extraordinaire Alan Graham. He will be joined by Max Brittain on guitar (who had a recording played on BBC Northern Irelands Jazz Club last week). It has been suggested that as the following day is BBC Children in Need Day, that we take up a collection on the evening for that good cause. Receptacles will be provided for your generosity.

No matter who is playing we do need bums on seats for every Hedsor Jazz Thursday. Times are hard, and we know they will get harder. We are now spending more time and effort on advertising and from time to time we do welcome newcomers and also the return of some old comers as well. So if you can, do encourage others to come, or to come back. For some of the Hedsor Jazz regulars the music and friendships are what draw them through the week.

That’s about it for now. I am still uncertain of my ability to get to Hedsor Jazz this week, antibiotics and pain killers do sap one's enjoyment of staying awake!! BUT there is more than one day still to go.

TTFN

If you are too young to know what that means, do look it up!

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Coming to Hedsor Jazz this week (November 3rd) we have 2 jazz musicians who have been playing for us since before Hedsor Jazz. Yes, everything is possible, and this week the possible are Al Nicholls on tenor sax and Max Brittain on guitar. Both have been guests since the days of Century Jazz, and the jazz nights at The Cookham Tavern! Sadly, this week I will have to forgo my pleasure of hearing them again as I have a prior engagement at Heatherwood Hospital. I won't be going there with any special hat on, but I may be leaving there (Ascot) with one!

I do want to convince Al that I am not deliberately avoiding him, but it seems that the medical authorities know when he is playing for us at Hedsor, and they book me for an away day!


 


Last time I was being treated at the new Heatherwood Hospital they asked me what music I would like to listen to during my 1 hour local anaesthetic and I said modern jazz. Then, by the magic of modern telephones, they played me some MJQ. Even the surgeon enjoyed that, and thanked me for the lovely music!! He then went home on his bike!

 

Last week our Hedsor Jazz concert was performed by someone who has probably played more times for us at Hedsor than anyone else, perhaps with the exception of our drummer Martin Hart, and that is Mike Wills on reeds. He was alongside a super trumpet player, using a carbon fibre trumpet, John Thirkle, who is a resent find for us at Hedsor Jazz. John is more used to the much bigger stage, as he is part of Jamiroquai. It was interesting to see that his music stand was one unable to take sheet music, as it was designed for his Apple tablet (firmly clamped to the stand). No ledge for sheet music!!

For the next 2 weeks Hedsor Jazz will be without Martin as he is off on his hols again, somewhere near the equator! In his place we have a drummer who lives even nearer to Hedsor than I do. Mike Jeffries will be behind with the trio these next 2 sessions. The second week (N0vember 10th) of his stint we will have Lester Brown on trumpet and that same Mike Wills on reeds that we had with Mr. Thirkle.

I did take a photo of John Thirkle’s trumpet when it was at rest, and I did look it up on Google. It is well worth the 4 figure sum he might have paid for it. The cost of living for a musician is definitely going up, but he may be able to set it against his income tax, as it is a tool of his trade!   

https://www.thomann.de/gb/dacarbo_toni_maier_139r_bb_trumpet.htm?glp=1&gclid=CjwKCAjwh4ObBhAzEiwAHzZYU4oB2vf0VJwLt_pvIAtWcpX6x6ee-D1_p2tmRFnCCSLC48FSmhYYQBoC5-0QAvD_BwE

Another of those commonalities that one sometimes finds is that John Thikle was at Leeds Collage of Music at the same time as Alan Barnes!

We have had them both this year at HEDSOR JAZZ.

Some photos of last week’s session are below.





 


 








This past week I have listened to 2 cd’s produced by Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith. Not only is he a superb jazz saxophonist, but a great leader of an orchestra. One that he leads is “The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra”, and the other is “The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra”. I happened to play one of each one afternoon during the week and you really cannot tell the difference between them. Both are superb, both have great arrangements and soloists, and even though you may not know too many of the names involved I do recommend that you go out and search for a listen for yourselves. Once upon a time I would have said go out and buy the CD’s for yourselves, but these days it is relatively easy to listen via a streaming program. Having said that I still feel a lack of ownership when you do that, and I am old fashioned enough to prefer that feeling! Somehow holding the cd box in your hands whilst you play the CD does give you a feeling of joint ownership.

 

However you decide to do it, take a look at their websites. 

 

https://snjo.co.uk/

 

https://snjo.co.uk/tommy-smith-youth-jazz-orchestra

 

Enough for now, but do go an enjoy Live Jazz wherever it is easiest for you to do so. Don’t forget that locally there is jazz in Marlow  https://www.marlowjazz.co.uk/

 

And throughout the Reading area  https://www.jazzinreading.com/

 

BUT JAZZ AT HEDSOR CLUB IS EVERY THURSDAY EVERY WEEK!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Hedsor Jazz and Geoff’s blog are obviously linked. I have been writing and “pushing” jazz via it since 2005 and obviously feel that the blog has “come of age”.

I have been trying to persuade people to listen to and understand jazz for longer than that. Initially it was “Jazz at Geoff’s” back in the early 1990’s, where I managed to cram 12 people into my front room and play for them a mix of recorded jazz, usually from LP’s . I would usually play a complete LP side at a time and would dissuade people from taking whilst the music was on. This was often achieved by turning the volume up until they could no longer hear each other, by which time they had got the message! At the end of each segment I would explain why I had played it and seek feedback from the people there.

My front room became too small, and the promotion of live jazz in pubs was the next step, and “Jazz from Geoff” was born.

Not many years after that I first met and listened to Vasilis Xenopoulos, and became convinced he was a rising star in the jazz firmament. Last week at Hedsor Jazz many of you came and listened, and I think all of you agreed with me. He is the nearest modern jazz can have to being a star. With him was a guitarist that Vasilis introduced me to soon after the UK found out about Vasilis, one Nigel Price. I think he is the best jazz guitarist in the country and at one Cookham Festival jazz night I introduced him as that, much to his embarrassment. The two have gone on to grow a synergy between then that is almost uncanny for a listener. Bringing them together last week at Hedsor Jazz was just a wonderful experience, with a room full of people obviously enjoying the music and who cheered loudly at the end of the evening.

After the show I talked with Vasilis, and he had remembered playing in the bar at Hedsor one Monday evening when just a few people came to out listen. One of the band that night was John Critchinson, depping at the last moment on a borrowed keyboard. It was all a long way from my front room. In distance maybe not so far, perhaps 2 miles, but in life experience a life changing distance away for everyone concerned.

The pictures below are from last Thursday evening, some from my camera, and some from the phone of Geoff Swaffield.






On Bass, John Porter



 

Hedsor Jazz has put on some wonderful evenings of jazz over the years. We have experimented with jazz styles and instrument combinations from every reed instrument you could get 2 saxophonists to gather together and play, right through  to a jazz harmonica (I get confused, is that 48 reeds?). Yes, vibs and violins have also played jazz for us, and many instrumental combinations in between. We have had some jazz singers at Hedsor too. Yes, I know not all like jazz singers, but who would have missed the pleasure we all gained from the late Tina May at our Christmas parties.

Coming this Thursday (October 27th) to Hedsor we have an instrument that is quite common both in jazz and at Hedsor, a trumpet. But not many carbon fibre trumpets get made or played. So come and hear it not only being well played, but played by someone who has been on at least a dozen hit singles. Trumpeter John Thirkle is better known for being part of the “brass” sound behind Lisa Stansfield and Jamiroquia, but on Thursday this week he will be playing JAZZ, alongside the reed player who has played more gigs at Hedsor than any other, Mike Wills.



 



We have lots more super jazz coming to Hedsor, so reserve your Thursday evenings for Hedsor Jazz. Don’t miss an evening that just may turn out to be spine tingling incredible.

 

Some of you missed last week, you really don’t want to miss 2 weeks in a row.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Another Blog, and another week in which to look forward to a super Thursday Night of Jazz.

Where? At Hedsor Jazz of course.

Coming this Thursday (October 20th) we have that terrific pairing of saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos and guitarist Nigel Price. Each individually have become world class musicians, but bring them together and they become musical magicians, conjuring up excitement and innovation beyond compare. At Hedsor, we are so privileged to have them come and play for our level of audience. Let’s face it, if Hedsor reached its Fire Regulation limit it would still be 1/10 of the audience numbers they usually play for. For you, the audience, it is an opportunity to see and meet in such intimate surroundings musicians of their quality. They will be ably supported by The Martin Hart Trio.




 

The following Thursday (October 27th) is another opportunity to meet and listen to musicians more used to playing really large venues. Trumpet star Johnny Thirkle will be out front of our trio and alongside reedman Mike Wills. John has just finished a tour with Lisa Stansfield and has also been on tour with “Jamiroquai” since he was last Hedsor. Do come and listen to his carbon fibre trumpet.











We have much more lined up for you in the weeks before Christmas. Do look back to last week's blog where the rest of the year is “explained”!

 Dont forget that if you want to jazz on a Tuesday night, there is “another” place to do so locally. Check out https://www.marlowjazz.co.uk/Events2022fromAugust.pdf

 Also, slightly further afield, more jazz is available in and around Reading. Check out “Jazz in Reading” https://www.jazzinreading.com/

Looking back on last week I will leave you with some of Geoff Swaffield’s photos from the set we had from “The Clive Burton Celebration Quintet”, which includes Lester Brown and Mike Wills, all backed by The Martin Hart Trio.

Geoff S managed to take a set of pics from his phone and are less full frontal than mine.

 


















Steve Smith on bass
























The CBCQ often play tunes that the late Clive Burton used to play. They also play tunes and new arrangements that he may well have enjoyed playing as well.

Remember, the future is always based on the past, but you can only live in the present.

That’s about it for now folks, take care,

 

Geoff C