Friday, December 25, 2009

I thought I would take this opportunity of wishing ALL you blog readers an incredibly HAPPY CHRISTMAS, and a prosperous and Jazz Filled NEW YEAR

Hedsor Jazz recommences on January 7th

Friday, December 18, 2009

High Folks

A couple more photos of the performers at last nights Hedsor Jazz Party.

Just for the record, those taking part were:-

Clive Burton trombone and jokes
Zane Cronje keyboard
John Monney bass
Martin Hart drums

Stuart Henderson trumpet and flugle horn
"Tolie" tenor sax
Al Nichols tenor sax
Sarah Glayzer vocals
Tim Saunders guitar
Mike Wills drums (part of the second half).


Geoff C

The Hedsor Jazz Christmas Party 2009

Sitting at home on Thursday afternoon, with snow descending outside, I obviously started worrying (yes, I am a worrier!) about that nights Hedsor Jazz Party.

OK, we had done well on ticket pre sales, and I knew I could get to Hedsor, but I was really concerned that those who made the effort to come would not be met by a small audience and half an orchestra.

Well, you all did us proud, and I need not have worried. Yes, a few did decide that a cosy home was better than the risk of a snow laden journey, or worse, not getting home again due to the blizzard conditions. But people with tickets kept coming in. And people without tickets kept coming in, buying them at the door. So, my Mafeking was relieved.

Then, as start time began to creep up on us, concern over the guest musicians began to nor at me. They weren’t there! That dammed snow again. But there again, one, then two more, and finally, all the way from Tufnell Park, Al Nicholls completed the ensemble.

It was a terrific evening. The weather was terrible, and the music terrific. The mix and match of all the musicians kept everyone more than happy.
The food at half time was delicious, and the raffle, well, “too much”!!

Some of last nights photos are above, and I will post another batch soon.

Can I thank all of you for turning out,especially The Audience, many of whom are stalwart supporters of Jazz at Hedsor.

Thanks too to The Musicians, again, all of whom have been supporting our little club with dedication for many ears now.

Thank you too for those who supplied the smashing spread of food at half time and finally thank you for all those who turned out early and set the scene.

A special thanks is also due to someone who does a lot for our little club, but does it behind the scenes. Margaret Goodyer always manages to persuade some part of the local press to carry a story about us, and she has also often hot footed it around the area with posters and nagging handbills, just keeping our profile in the public eye. Thanks a bunch Margaret.

Hedsor Jazz is unique. Our regular weekly meetings in the small bar have encouraged some extremely talented musicians to come and play jazz for us over the years. They ain't monkeys, but honestly, we do only pay them peanuts! They don’t come for the money, they come for the atmosphere that YOU all provide.

Don’t let it stop. Our sessions start again on January 7th 2010. Century Jazz did an album called, “Into the Next Century”. The Clive Burton Quintet, musical successors to Century Jazz, are taking you into the next Decade. Be part of it.

In the meantime, have a great Christmas time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I thought you might like to know that for TONIGHT'S Jazz Party at The Hedsor Social Club we now have an almost certain guest musician list.

Leader of our illustrious ensemble will be Clive Burton, raconteur and trombone player.

Zane Cronje Keyboard

John Monney Bass

Martin Hart Drums (don't forget HIS new CD is also still available)

Joining them will be

Stuart Henderson, the best bop trumpet man in Reading!

"Tolie" on tenor saxophone, all the way from the Ukraine (via Reading!).

Al Nicholls tenor saxophone, all the way from London, leader of "Blue Harlem"

Sarah Glayzer jazz singer and classical cellist, all the way from High Wycombe. She was all the way from Truro where she was known as "Miss Scarlet and the Five Candlesticks"

Finally, and only perhaps, Tim Saunders, guitarist, all the way from Hammersmith.

So, with that line up, and some nibbles at half time, and a wonderful raffle, why not come out and enjoy the jazz tonight! It all starts at 8pm.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hi all you jazz lovers out there.

Once again I hit the keyboard to remind you of jazz at The Hedsor Social Club, and to report on a few listens I've had recently.

Thursday at Hedsor will be the regular guys! Yes, Clive Burton and Mike Wills are back with us. Ken Rankine wont be, as he is now recovering from his hip replacement op. I had a text from him Friday to say that it was all done, very painful, but he is enjoying the morphine!! So, John Monney will be playing with the band until Ken is well enough to rejoin us.

Coming up VERY soon now is our Christmas Party, on December 17th. This looks to be a wonderful jazz event, with the regular band, plus at least the addition of Stuart Henderson on trumpet and Sarah Glazer on vocals. We hope also to be joined by Al Nicholls on tenor sax, and possibly by "Tollie" as well. Mike Wills is unfortunately not going to be with us, and we have fined him appropriately!

Tickets for this event are on sale now, either from me in person, or from The Stationery Depot on The Parade in Cookham (01628 531178).

I was away last week, traveling some of the country that seems to have missed out on roads! First stop was Hunstanton on the North Norfolk coast. A very beautiful part of the world, but with "long and winding roads".

Then even more excitingly I travelled from there to Stone in Staffordshire.

Here I was entertained to a gala evening celebrating 25 years of music at Granvilles Brasserie ( ). The music for the evening was from Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen, who are celebrating 50 years as a band.

Not usually the kind of music I now listen to, but they are still good at their job as musicians and entertainers. They were really good fun. Two pieces of note. A piano trio (led by pianist Hugh Ledigo) arrangement of Bach's Toccata in D, which I thought they did very well.

The other tune of note was a bit like "Cute" by drummer Nick Millward, entitled "Your Nicked". A real percussionists tour de force, including "Big Noise from Winnetka" with the help of the bass player and a tour of the restaurant hitting bottles and glasses in time, without missing a beat! AND staying in tune!!

I really did think they put on a good show. Do check out both Kenny Ball's website ( )and Granvilles. Just to add colour I've put the artwork for the CD that contains both pieces at the top of the page.

Back in 1970 a concert was arranged to celebrate Louis Armstrongs birthday. It was perfomed at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall by a glitterati of British jazz musicians. These included Alex Welsh and the band, Humph, Wally Faulkes, Bruce Turner, Beryl Brydan and many more. It was recorded, and released initially on the Black Lion Label. It was received badly by the musical press because the recording was incredibly out of balance in great patches. I had been looking to obtain a copy of this double album for some years now. What once might have been considered rubbish, now with a 30 year perspective, does become more desirable. So many of the cast are no longer with us. I am pleased to say that I have been able to locate most of the tracks and download them via Spotify. It really has been a worthwhile exercise. I've placed the artwork at the top, and can thoroughly recommend anyone to go and find the music. Called "Tribute to Louis Armstrong, Live at The Queen Elizabeth Hall" there are some very good performances by all concerned. For anyone out there who doesn't know the kind of music Alex Welsh was playing in that year, go and find out. It wasn't "trad" but the tunes were from the traditional jazz repertoire. BUT, just listen to how the ensemble play "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy", and you will get excited. For those of us looking backwards at those times, we have real regret that music as swinging and polished as the Welsh Band is now much harder to find.

BUT to finish on a plug, the music you get to hear, and the value, provided by Jazz at Hedsor every Thursday, is truly remarkable, and I thank my lucky stars that it is so accessible and regular. Many people are much less fortunate in their ability to access such wonderful entertainment.

So, keep coming, and keep live jazz alive!

Friday, November 20, 2009

John Coverdale at Hedsor this year

I'm soon off for a trip North for a few days. So, I thought I should pass on to all you real fans of jazz, that at Hedsor Jazz NEXT WEEK (November 26th) we have two very special guests.

Joining our regular drummer Martin Hart, returning regular pianist (back from France) Zane Cronje, depping bass player,(but no stranger to Hedsor) John Monney, we have guitarist John Coverdale, and saxophonist Mark Aston. Both have played for us before, and it looks like being a super evening of improvised jazz. for a clip of Mark playing "Misty"

Clive and Mike Wills are continuing with their community service. But we wish Ken Rankine a speedy get well, as he goes into hospital to have his damaged hip replaced.

Don't forget, jazz needs an audience if it is to continue as a living art and entertainment form. That is down to YOU.

See you next week.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sarah Glazer pictured above

Just one of my little reminders that TONIGHT at The Hedsor Social Club we have almost our regular band! Multi instrumentalist Mike Wills will be back with us, BUT Zane Cronje is still sampling the delights of France and we are delighted to welcome back Nigel Fox on keyboard in his place.

I will also have some tickets for sale for our Christmas Party (£10 each). So far committed to the evening are The Clive Burton Quintet, trumpet star Stuart Henderson and singer Sarah Glazer (who was the singer with the five-piece Miss Scarlet and the Candlesticks, I guess as Miss Scarlet!). Blue Harlem's Al Nicholls has also promised to try to make an appearance, better paid gigs not withstanding. It was great to have him with us last week. AND didn't we have a crowd. Don't forget to come early if you would like to sit down! The bar opens at 7 pm for our 8.30 pm gig.

That's it for now folks, don't forget, it is only with YOU at any live music gig that keeps live jazz alive.

Geoff C

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hi Folks,

Due to family circumstances I haven't had time recently to give full value to my blog. So, I thought that a rainy Saturday afternoon would be a good opportunity.

Just for a change, I wont tell you whats coming next week, I'll nag about that later, but I will talk about a couple of recent gigs and a couple of Cd's listened to recently.

Last night I went to the Norden Farm jazz evening, which featured The Pendulum Jazz Orchestra, with solo guest Julian Siegel.

I hadn't heard Julian "live" before, and I hadn't heard Pendulum for many years.

I thought it was a knockout. And like somebody else recently, I thought the Orchestra punched well above their weight. The section playing was very polished, and the solo playing exceptional, especially when considering how young they are. (I think all are under 25). The rhythm section are all mature hands at the job (Clark Tracey drums, Andy Crowdy bass and Peter Billington piano), and they supported both when behind the large ensemble or behind a couple of waring soloists. My only downside comments would be that the young lady singer wasn't as good as any of the other soloists, and should never have scatted "Lady Be Good", and the auditorium was much too hot!

Of lady soloists I really should comment about Sarah Glazer, who sang for us at Hedsor a couple of Thursdays ago. She is a real find. She studied music at York and is now living locally studying again at one of the London music collages. She is a fine musician (being also a cellist)and handled the swing era jazz songs with finess, making them sound fresh and new again. Particularly noteworthy was her performance of "I Cant Get Started" using all of the original lyrics.

You can catch her voice as "Lady Scarlet and the Candlesticks" on Facebook.

We have had some wonderful sessions at Hedsor recently. The standard is so high. It does make one very reluctant to travel into London to pay more money for similar quality. It wont be more fun!

Listening to Cd's recently I came across a big band recording from a bunch I had never heard of. What was so astounding about it was that they are so good. The Dave Rivello Ensemble are a Rochester NY rehearsal band, and this release entitled "Facing the Mirror"(Allora Records 1002)is their first. Dave, and to some extent the orchestra, have been mentored by Bob Brookmeyer. All of the music on the album was written by Dave Rivello, and played by a 13 piece "Ensemble". The nearest description I can give is that they produce a similar polished sound to the famous Maria Shneider orchestra. If you get the chance listen to one of their shortest tracks "Chorale" for an example of precision playing.

By contrast the other CD I want to mention is a reissue of some BBC Jazz Sessions from the 1970's and 80's produced by the Upbeat Jazz Label. They have released a number of different sessions, previously locked away in the BBC sound vaults, but this one features The Humph band of 1979 (which had Bruce Turner and Mick Pyne hiding in it), and also some tracks by The Pat Halcox Allstars (1980) which features some of the then Chris Barber Band, let loose on her summer holidays and playing swinging mainstream. Finally there are 3 tracks by the John Barnes/Roy Williams Quintet (1980)again with Mick Pyne on piano.

It's a great snapshot of British jazz in that period, and it is surprisingly good! We denigrate ourselves to much! Upbeat Jazz URCD152. I'm sure Liz Biddle will sell you a copy, and send you a mailing list of other recordings she is looking after for us!

Artwork for both Cd's is at the top of the page.

Well, that's about it for now. Jazz as usual at Hedsor Social Club on Thursday. Tickets for our Christmas Party will be on sale then as well, at £10 a go. Value, not arf!

Geoff C


Friday, October 30, 2009

A quick update.

Last nights session with Stuart Henderson on trumpet and flugel horn was both well attended, and brilliantly executed. Stuarts Ukrainian accomplice “Tolie” proved to be a superb tenor saxophonist of the hard bop school, and they have obviously worked together many times. It is really difficult to believe that we do have such terrific talent floating around this area that never seems to get the recognition it derives. I can only say that those who were at The Hedsor Social Club last night will all now be looking for a return visit of this pairing.

Looking forward to next week, and we can look forward to some more fireworks, as next Thursday is November 5th.

Musical fire will be provided by our usual bunch of the unrecognised, The Clive Burton Quintet, but with the added sparkle of a lady singer, making her first debut with us at Hedsor. Sarah Glayzer has emailed me with the following info about herself:-

“Sarah Glayzer began singing whilst reading History at the University of York. She wrote and performed her own material at various venues around the town, and appeared on York TV after recording an EP with her friend and guitarist James Carmichael, founder of Take 1 records. After leaving university Sarah moved to Cornwall where for the last couple of years she has combined working as a journalist with singing in the local jazz and blues scene. Fronting the five-piece Miss Scarlet and the Candlesticks Sarah performed across the county and in several local festivals including the St Ives September Festival and Lafrowda. Earlier this month Sarah returned to her home town of High Wycombe to study singing part time at a music college in London, with the hope of making music a full-time career.

Sarah is also a pianist and a keen cellist. She has played in a number of orchestras, ensembles and quartets and has performed at a variety of professional venues including the Royal Albert Hall, the Purcell Room, and the Millennium Dome. During her time in Cornwall Sarah led the cello section in the first ever Cornish musical “Turning of the Tide” staged at the Hall for Cornwall, played and sang with the St Mewan Sinfonia, and played with and composed for the Aston String Quartet.”

We look forward to another full house, and another great evening of live jazz at The Hedsor Social Club.

And all of this for only £5, yes, you read it right, we are still only charging £5 to get in for these superb jazz sessions at Hedsor. We don’t turn away more money if you wish to donate to help keep live jazz here alive, but will only demand that £5 for an evening of complete jazz (or should that be a complete evening of jazz? You decide!).

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's been quite a long time since I actually “reviewed” any CD's, so I thought I would mention today, just 2 that are associated with recent events.
The first, and I'm sure many of you have it already, is Martin Harts new CD “Passing By”. I'm also sure that many of you will be wondering why I hadn't given it my usual treatment. In my defense I can only say, I did invite you to its launch party, and I did give you the cover artwork then as well.

But to the grist. It is a masterful production. Written by, played by, produced by, Martin Hart himself. It is a quality product, meticulously produced in every way.

I know that Martin is getting the scores properly published, and I really think that is going to be of benefit to many others, because the tunes themselves have that quality that makes you want to hear them again. And I'm sure they are solid enough for more than one interpretation.

At the launch party, we didnt have the benefit of vibes player Alan Grahame, but at The Woodley Theatre this last Saturday, Alan, Martin and Ken McCarthy were there (in a tribute night to the late Ken Jardine, instigator of the Woodley Theatre Jazz Nights) to enable the 3 tunes from the album that have vibes solos to be played live for us. “Blue Note Tango”, “Bright Life”, and the title track “Passing By” all brought a full house to gasp with delight, “trific” was heard by me from more than one seat!

On the album, each tunes reason for being is explained, but that title track has so much meaning which can be heard from the music, it is truly beautiful. Do go out and buy it (at Hedsor this week)? I have already exported a copy to the U.S.A.!

Another link now. Martin, in his tribute to Ken Jardine on Saturday, mentioned that the last live jazz concert he and Ken were involved in was one by Tina May. Last Friday I went to Norden Farm to hear Tina and Niki Iles perform with some ex pats from “Pendulum”. They are all ex pat's because Pendulum is of course the “child” of musical director Pat Kelly!

This event gave me the opportunity to purchase the very latest Tina May Album “I Never Told You”, many of the tunes from which she performed on the night.

This is another beautifully crafted album, possibly not quit as well recorded as Martins! [There is to my ears a touch of sibilance and slight treble distortion on it, (but only ever so slight)]. It shouldn't be enough to put you off buying it, because it is a terrific album.

In my view, Tina is a real jazz singer. She is a member of the band, not just singing jazz songs in front of the band, she is using her voice as in integrated part of the jazz ensemble.

And again, the title song is one to bring tears to your eyes, it is full of emotion, and with very emotive lyrics. “I Never Told You”. So often we leave the things we most want to tell someone unsaid. And then sometimes it can be too late!

With Tina and Nikki on the album are Phil Donkin bass, Stephen Keogh drums, and guest saxophonist Karen Sharp.

At Norden Farm, I thought that Nikki Iles playing was perhaps a little too polite, but on the album, the intimacy of the sound makes you hear her delicate and sympathetic playing much better. Its a lovely listen, on 33 Records 33JAZZ200

One last link. The next Woodley Theatre Jazz evening will be January 16th, with guest artist guitarist Max Brittain.

Guess who we have coming to play for us at Hedsor this Thursday? Yes, MAX BRITTAIN.
Come on out, all the wonderful talent we have performing there can be in your ears for a mean £5 Thursday October 22nd 8.30pm The Hedsor Social Club

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hedsor Jazz Dates for Your Diary

Tomorrow night, October 15th, it will be the regular guys, with Mike Wills playing all the reeds.
Then in the next few weeks we have a number of guests coming to join our Thursday Night Sessions So in order that you don't mistakenly double book your Thursday Nights, here they are:-

October 22nd. The Guitar Great Max Brittain plays with the quartet.

October 29th. A VERY SPECIAL NIGHT, because in front of our rhythm section will be Trumpet Star Stuart Henderson with his saxophone playing friend from the Ukraine Toliy (if you want it all, it's Anatoliy Vyechslavov).

During the firsts 3 weeks in November we have our well established saxophone section back with us (in the shape of Mike Wills) but then on

November 26th we have another of our wonderful guest guitarists John Coverdale
coming together with a lovely saxophonist, heard at Hedsor once before, Mark Aston. Check Mark out on

Looking even further ahead to December, our Christmas Party will be on December 17th, with Stuart Henderson booked already. We are thinking of booking the bigger room for this, and making it a real party, with extra guests both playing and passive! If you would be prepared to support this (obviously for an extra cost) do let either Clive or myself know.

The regular quartet are leader Clive Burton on trombone,
Zane Cronje on keyboard, Ken Rankine on bass and Martin Hart on drums

Most sessions cost £5 to get in, and the music starts at 8.30pm.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Hi Everyone,

There are a few great evenings of entertainment coming up, and I just wanted to make you sure that you all had them for your diary.

This Tuesday, 6th October.
At The Bourne End Community Centre, that lovely singer Lynn Garner will be performing alongside an equally talented (but less pretty!) bunch of players led by Zane Cronje. I know I have mentioned this event before, but I do have an amended list of the very talented!

With Lynn and Zane will be Mark Aston on reeds, Terry Parsons on drums, and Steve Riddle on bass (not Brad Lang as first thought, he is touring with Barbara Dickson). Admission is about £6, which includes a half time light supper, and also a raffle ticket. Start time is 8.30 pm. You will need to get there before then if you want to sit down!

Thursday this week (8th October) at Hedsor, we are back to our “normal” Clive Burton Quintet. Do come and support one of the areas longest running bands, admission £5 includes a raffle ticket. They are a great band and well featured on Martin Harts new CD. You will still have a chance to purchase one of Martin's new CD's (released last week), which is a really superb album of tunes all written and arranged by Martin. It's well worth your £10.

Friday 16th October, at Norden Farm, Maidenhead another of my favorite singers will be performing with the Pendulum Quartet, she being Tina May. In that supporting quintet will be Nicki Iles on piano, Andy Crowdy on bass, Mike Bradley drums, and Nathan Hawken on reeds. Tickets from Norden Farm (01628 788997) are £10, and it all kicks off at 8 pm.

Saturday 17th October at The Woodley Theatre The Martin Hart Quartet will feature vibraphone player Alan Grahame, who is on the newly released CD. Tickets are £9 and the event starts at 7.45pm. Box office 0118 9690827

Finally on Friday 6th November, Trio Fantasia will be playing the The Kenton Theater, Henley on Thames. Who? Well pianist Ken McCarthy is one of the trio, and much more info can be had by going to their web site But for those who cant, Ken and the trio will be doing a Jacques Lousier style presentation on classical themes. Its a two hour show, with “humorous tales and anecdotes of the musicians” and that's Variety Weekly's comment!

But for now...

Geoff C

Monday, September 28, 2009

I thought you might like to read the comments (above) made by my American friends "The Robinson's" upon their return to the U.S.A.

My thanks to you all as well, for making them feel so welcome. I know that you do that for all who come to Hedsor Jazz, which is why it is such a friendly place to come.

IF you are one of the people who have never tried the Hedsor Jazz Experience (!), then why not come THIS THURSDAY (October 1st), for the party launch of Martin Harts new CD. It will only cost you £5 to get in, and may make you some new friends.

Coming up next week, on the usual first Tuesday of the month at the Bourne End Community Centre Jazz Evening, one of the areas favorite singers, Lynn Garner is appearing
with Zane Cronje on keyboard and Brad Lang on bass. It was hoped that guitarist Peter O'Brian would also be on the bill, but unfortunately he is unable to do the gig. I'm am, however, sure it will be a very entertaining evening.That's Tuesday October 6th from 8.30 pm. Admission, including raffle ticket and a light supper is around £6

One of the reasons I haven't reviewed too many CD's this last few weeks, was that I was trawling through some of my collection in order to present a program to the U3A jazz appreciation group in Amersham. I did an ABC of my collection for them last Monday. Low and behold, what should turn up in the last week or so was an Arbors Records album of the same name. Arbors jazz releases are always worth a listen. They are always well recorded, and usually very well played too. This one is an absolute knock out. John Allred is an formidable trombone player (son of another one, Bill). I have never heard the clarinet solo from High Society taken as a trombone solo before! Amazing. Jeff Barnhart is a piano player who plays in a stride style, but who has obviously kept his ears open to more modern influences as well. Danny Coots is a pretty good drummer I hadn't heard before, and they are all joined by bass player Dave Stone.

The first track "Pick Yourself Up" is a killer punch that you will need to recover from! The individual skills of all are obvious, and the interplay very thoughtful indeed.

There is a real mix of tunes that runs the whole length of jazz ("High Society", via Cole Porter's "All Through The Night", to Charlie Hayden's "First Song").

It really is a lovely CD, Arbors Jazz ARCD 19371. You could do a lot worse than ordering it from Amazon!

Well, that's it for now folks. Don't forget, no matter how great the recordings are in your collection are, nothing beats live jazz, and tuning out to support live jazz will ensure it's still there to listen to in a years time!

Geoff C

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday this week at Hedsor, we have as our guest (to accompany Clive), Vasilis Xenopoulos.
We all know how good he is, so get there early. For those few of you out there who have yet to experience this young Greek saxophonist, where have you been? And yes, you do need to get there early, and it will cost you all of £5 to get in. The bar is open from 7pm, music starts at 8.30pm.

On October 1st you could be present at Hedsor for the launch of Martin Hart's second CD, artwork above. We will have saxophonist Peter Cook as our guest, and 7 tunes from the album will be performed live for you. The CD will also be available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served. And to get in will still only cost you £5!!

Keep coming out whilst you can still enjoy live jazz at this price at Hedsor . Nothing lasts forever!!

CD reviews will come later, after I have recovered from delivering computers to an African Chief in Wales!! (Now didnt Humph write a tune called "One Day I Met an African"?).

Geoff C

Monday, September 07, 2009

Many of you know that our regular drummer, Martin Hart, is the Jazz Musician in residence at The Woodley Theatre's Oakwood concert room.

On October 17th, Martin and his Quartet are playing a special evening as a tribute to the late Ken Jardine.

Ken started the jazz concerts at Woodley many years ago, and gradually built up the attendance at these concerts, moving from an old Cinema on the site into, and eventually filling, the new building. Those of us who have legs were very grateful of the move!

Sadly Ken died just a few hours after the last concert.

Details of this tribute, and of future jazz dates at Woodley
into 2010 can be found on the leaflet, which is attached.

Please put them in your diary NOW, and come out to some wonderful jazz.

Remember, you don't only have to keep live jazz alive at Hedsor!
Geoff C

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The last bank holiday before Christmas is now over, and I thought it was about time for a blog.

OK, so those of you who have paid employment feel a bit down in the mouth today (I’m paid to stay away from work you understand, so I am working on memory….now what was I saying?), so a bit of a blog may take your mind of off the work in hand.

Memories. Well, we do have a few jazz memories to look back on. The Swanage Jazz Festival (the best in Britain!), was again very enjoyable. Even though I got “memorably” wet on the Saturday, the Alan Barnes Octet more than made up for it. Simon Spillett and Bobby Wellins (unfortunately NOT playing together) also added to that feeling of contented joy that good jazz engenders. Hope for the future of jazz was also there in the form of the Youth Orchestra who played Sunday morning, at least 3 of whoom are going on to study music in London this year.

A very recent memory, from Yesterday in fact, was seeing some well known jazz faces playing at The Littlewick Green show. a couple of photo's of some of these suspects are above!

Hedsor Jazz has seen some wonderful (and full) sessions recently as well. Simon Spillett (with , dare I say, “his” Debbie (Wilson)), Peter Cook, Stuart Henderson, Max Britain, the regular band, yes, the quality never lessens.

And, just to reassure you that it won’t lessen in the coming weeks, book September 17th in your diary NOW. Vasilis Xenopoulos is coming to us again!

Many of you will know that my email address book suffered substantial loss this last month, so if you can let me have the email addresses of people you know who used to be on my nag list, please send them to me.

This Thursday at Hedsor, we have the regular band. Please come and support it, we would like to continue to actually pay them!! It really only does cost you £5 to get in, which includes an inedible raffle ticket, which could lead to a shaving mirror, a marrow escape or even a bottle of vintage Reading 2009! All the gigs start at 8.30pm, the bar is open from around 7pm. Jeff the barman will be delighted to serve you with any cold liquid you desire from then on.

CD’s listened to recently, and still out there to help sustain the coming longer nights (who remembers a reviewer writing for The Gramophone Magazine under the Heading “Nights at the Round Table”?) include one recorded at The Bulls Head at Barnes in 2006 by Bobby Wellins and Stan Tracey. It’s entitled “Tracey Wellins Play Monk”. It is in Quartet form (Andrew Cleydert on bass and Clark Tracey drums), and is every bit as good as the quality of the names would imply. Two of my favourite Monk tunes are included, “Well you Neednt” and ‘Round Midnight”, plus 6 others. Its on the “ReSteamed” label RSJ104. The recording was instigated and produced by Stan’s wife Jackie, who sadly has died in this last month.

Almost carrying on with the “sad loss” theme, is a double album on the Arbours Jazz label (ARCD 19368) “Ruby Braff, For The Last Time” was recorded with Scott Hamilton in Nairn, Scotland as part of the Jazz Festival there on August 7th, 2002. Although suffering very badly by then from emphysema, you would be hard pushed to tell that here was a very sick man playing before an audience for the last time. The music is timeless Braff, the two front men are supported by Jon Wheatly guitar, John Bunch piano, Dave Green bass, and Steve Brown drums.

According to the cd notes, Ruby had great difficult getting on the stage, and played the entire concert in a wheel chair, supported by cushions. Don’t buy it through any feelings of completeness (the last… etc), buy it because it is great jazz music from a master of his craft. All of the music is there, and it hasn’t been electronically enhanced to make him sound better than he was. He may have been a difficult person to get along with, but he was a jazz great.

Well, that’s it for now folks, roll the credits…..”I’m must thank my lovely wife June, and my parents for having the forethought to have me…” etc, etc.

Geoff C

Friday, August 14, 2009

Last night, I made a couple of mistakes!

Mistake number one. I tell you all to get to Hedsor early, and I get there slightly later than usual (for me!), to find the usual seats full!!!

Mistake number two, I didn’t take my camera! If I had, then I could show everyone how full it was for our debut session for Debbie Wilson, and how blonde a blonde she really is!

Debbie was accompanied by one of our regular famous friends, Simon Spillett, (who, I think, knows Debbie better than we do!) on tenor sax, and despite PA gremlins in the first half the entire evening had a real wow factor. Debbie sang a lot of songs usually referred to as from “The Great American Songbook”, including one made famous by Louis Armstrong (“We Have All the Time in The World”). Debbie’s voice is deepish, but thankfully, better ranged than Louis!

So, it was a delight to have her with us for an evening. There were a number of new faces in the audience, and I think they are now aware of how good a night at The Hedsor Social Club can be.

Another noteworthy point was teaming Simon and Debbie together has enhanced Simons ballad playing. He, (and for that matter Clive Burton on Trombone), played some wonderful ballad choruses last night.

Which only goes to show that “If I could be with you (one hour tonight)” could prove very beneficial to everyone!

Before leaving the subject of Debbie and Simon, do take a look and listen to

Next week we also have another of our favourite guest artists, saxophonist Peter Cook. I know Clive announced that it would be the “usual band” with Mike Wills (no bad thing anyway), but Peter Cook is coming as I mentioned in my last posting.

So, if last night was your first experience of Jazz at Hedsor, don’t make it your last, do come next week (Thursday 20th).

As an afterthought, if we regularly get 40 people coming in on a Thursday, we will address the space issue, and we will be able to add a third guest member to the front line on a more regular basis. It is only with an audience that we can keep live jazz alive.

Finally may I wish Debbie Wilson a great tour of the South. Yorkshire knows it is a lucky place!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog updates from me have been a bit thin on the ground lately, but here is a quick REMINDER for tomorrow. Also at the end of the page, you will see some news of forthcoming events.

I don't think that any of you will need a reminder, BUT, just to let you know AGAIN, that not only do we have incredible good jazz at Hedsor every Thursday with the Clive Burton Quintet, but TOMORROW from 8.30 pm onwards, we will be joined by tenor man SIMON SPILLETT.
And if that wasn't enough to make you realize just what value you get at Hedsor for £5, tomorrow we will also be joined by singer DEBBIE WILSON. Go on, do a Google, you can even hear samples of her album recently recorded with Simon and his quartet which also includes pianist John Critcheson (he played Hedsor on Monday for me last year).
Tomorrow should be a real wow evening. If you want to get a seat, do come early.
Oh, and for those of you who come mainly for the raffle, your £5 ticket will again give you the possibility of winning one of our magnificent prizes.
Jazz at The Hedsor Social Club takes place every Thursday from 8.30 pm. Coming soon on August 20th we have another saxophone legend, Peter Cook.
Watch out for a soon to be released CD featuring many of the musicians we see regularly at Hedsor, including Peter. Our regular drummer, Martin Hart, has been busy again! You could ask him for a copy of his last album "Mind Games". If my memory isn't too rusty, that was actually played on Humph's Monday night show!
Tell your friends, keep live jazz ALIVE.
Geoff C

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hi Folks,

Just a quick nag to drum up trade!!
I am still unsure of the ease of access to The Hedsor Social Club, but you can get in via feet even if you have to park in the nearest bit if road. If you are as yet unaware of the situation, the gas mains commeth!

Thursday (tomorrow) we have another visit from the internationally renowned guitarist
Max Britain, who will join Clive in front of the regular rhythm section.

On the last Thursday of the month (30th),
we have a "special" evening, with Reading based trumpeter Stuart Henderson being joined by Ukrainian saxophonist TOLLY. I am assured he is as good as Stuart, so a grand night is in prospect. Usual rhythm section (and entry fee!) applies.

An advanced notice of another VERY special evening, Simon Spillett and his partner will be playing at Hedsor on Thursday August 13th, accompanied by the Zane Cronje Trio.

Simon Writes:-

"Just to let you know that my partner, vocalist Debbie Wilson and I will be making a very special appearance at Hedsor Social Club on Thursday August 13th, accompanied by the Zane Cronje Trio.

As a little bit of background, Debbie has worked with, among others, guitarist Gary Potter and legendary pianist Johnny Patrick and has recently sang at the Birmingham Jazz Festival and recorded with my quartet featuring Martin Drew, John Critchinson and Andrew Cleyndert.
We're also appearing at Goring-on-Thames (August 14th) and The Bulls Head, Barnes (August 26th). Debbie will appeal to all those who like vocals from the Julie London/June Christy/Doris Day end of the spectrum. Check out her website where you can hear tracks recorded with the Simon Spillett Quartet (Of course, I'm biased! I think she's marvellous!)"

Make sure this one is in your diary, and that NOTHING prevents you from turning out for this wonderful evening of British jazz. And don't forget to tell your friends.

If you read the blog version of this nag, you will see a very happy photo of Simon and Debbie.

Thats about it for now, so its


Geoff C

Friday, July 17, 2009

Swanage Jazz festival 2009

Hi Folks,

Having taken a few days recuperation from last weekends Swanage Jazz festival, I thought you might like my comments (and some of my pictures) of the event. So, let me start with

Friday Evening.

My evening started in the newly relocated Marquee 3. As a venue to “stroll” to, I found the clime up to it a bit tough. OK, so I’m over 70, and have had heart surgery, and I got there. But over the weekend, its position DID colour my choice of who to listen to!

Friday, the main event in it was by Sarah Moule, a singer I hadn’t heard live before. She was accompanied by her husband Simon Wallace on piano, an excellent pianist who just showed us what the piano can do. Also with her was the Festival Musician in Residence (!), Alan Barnes. It was an great evening and start to the festival. I enjoyed her singing no end, and I also thought Alan played with great thoughtfulness.


Morning for me started off in Marquee 2, for a superb session by Don Weller and Bobby Wellins. They were accompanied by Mark Edwards on piano, Andy Cleyndert bass and Spike Wells on drums.A Stella band, undampened by the rain (yes, we were all in a marquee, but Spike had to be warned of the ever lowering “ceiling” full of water that was just above his head!). I had missed the previous evenings outing by the Three Tenors (Don Weller, Art Theman, and Mornington Locket), but this session enabled me to do a sort of catch up. Bobby Wellins is having something of a renaissance these days, and it was lovely to her him again, and as lyrical as ever. Don Weller is also another saxophonist who is getting better and better, he is playing better and looking better than I have seen and heard for many years.

Next off was a return visit to Marquee 3. A fair walk and climb from M 2, and I don’t think there were any busses at this time of day between the two venues, so it was a determined visit, BECAUSE our old friend James Fenn (guitar) was playing for a band called “OCTUPLE ODESSEY”. It’s very difficult to describe this band. Fun without doubt, terrifically able too, but if I tell you that it had James on amplified guitar,and also a player on a 6 string banjo, Johhny Boston on sax and vocals, a trombone player, Alan Barnes on reeds, as well as bass and drums, you will get the idea that it didn’t fall into any known category. It is led by James Evans, a very accomplished reed player. The band plays music that is carefully arranged, and sounded sometimes a bit like William Walton’s Fa├žade Suite being played by Central Europeans! It drew huge applause, but I did think the final number (not seen by James before in the version they played) called “Pigeon” the least appropriate final number I have ever heard!

I took James out for a coffee and a chat after that, but eventually got to hear (back in M 2) Simon Spillett’s second set. He was, as ever, completely immaculate in both appearance and performance. He was accompanied by John Critchinson on piano, Andy Cleyndert bass and Spike Wells drums. I know at Hedsor we do have the privilege of hearing Simon fairly often, but we shouldn’t take talent like that for granted, he is an amazing bop saxophonist. Don’t forget to go and buy his latest winning album “Sienna Red” (J.J. best album of the year).

At this point I made my one fundamental mistake of the weekend. I needed a break and decided to walk back to my digs, about 20 minutes walk away from M 2. It was at this point that the rain, which had fallen all day, decided to increase its velocity of decent into “torrential” mode, and I got soaked through!

After a suitable drying out period, and the re acquisition of my umbrella, I returned for the evening gig at M 2.

Alan Barnes Octet (Ellingtonians this year) playing a whole evening of Duke Ellingtons music. Many of you would have heard them do this in the Wycombe Town Hall earlier in the year. I enjoyed this repeat performance very much, and had to admire the way the 8 piece coped with the cramped stage, and dripping canvas. The performance was therefore slightly less relaxed than the one heard at High Wycombe, but still very enjoyable. They have really brought the lovely Ellington Tunes back into our lives in real performance.

The Octet also contains for me my weekend highlight. Tony Coe. I have admired him for years. Since about 1957 anyway! His playing is as good as ever. Individual, sometimes beautiful, sometimes pointed, he is a true British star that has gone largely unappreciated by the British jazz public. It was great to see and hear him again. It was sad to see that he needed to sit most of the time, and obviously had difficulty standing.

The walk home was dryer, and umbrellafied!


First off, I paid my only visit to M 1 to listen to the Dorset Youth Jazz Orchestra. I loved the mixture of ages, I would think the youngest were about 12, and the oldest (apart from a dad sitting in on keyboard to replace his flu bound daughter) was about 18. They were terrifically enthusiastic, and one or two very accomplished. The drummer has a contract with P & O this summer, and 4 of them are going off to London music collages this coming September. One of the four was a young gentleman singer. He had a terrific voice, and presented his numbers with great maturity.

In to M 2 then for a total contrast. Bruce Adams, Roy Williams, Dave Green, and two guitar players I didn’t know. They were filling the spot that should have been filled by the Australian trumpeter Bob Barnard and his son. They were unable to attend because they hadn’t been able to get enough confirmed bookings for the UK festival season to make the journey financially viable. No drums, no keyboard, and a put together band, who through their collective professionalism played a very pleasent set in total contrast to some of the blasts that happened at other times. As will be seen in my photo, Bruce did do his party trick of playing a trumpet and a flugel horn in harmony at the same time. And he does do it well, it isn’t only just a party trick!

I did take a Sunday Lunch break at this point, and returned to the fray in time to catch the end of the Clark Tracey Sextet. Young musicians all, some from our local big band “Pendulum”, they had a terrific vibraphone player called Lewis Wright (Seems an appropriate name!). The keyboard player was also very talented.

The trio (p, b, d) stayed in place for the following set with Alan Barnes, this time accompanied (and challenged by!), New York saxophonist Greg Abate. All great fun, in an old fashioned, cutting contest sort of way.

Having by now been overcome with jazz fatigue, I returned to my digs (dry this time, Sunday was a lovely day) to prepare for “the evening hour”!

The finale of the festival this year was a set by The Liane Carol Trio. I have always enjoyed her music, and she has been a regular performer at Swanage for almost all of its 20 years. Now comes fame!! And a crowded M 2 saw a good, but noisy, set. I left at half time, as hunger set in, and although the music and the festival friendships should have determined my stay in M 2 (especially as by the end of the first set I did have a seat!), I sought out a steak roll from the food van at the back of the marquees (a great innovation this year), and went out to sit on a bench to eat it. Listening to the gentle sounds of sea on sand, and looking at the lights of Bournemouth in the far distance, my 20th Swanage Jazz Festival came to an end in the beauty of its bay.

I would like to offer the organisers my heartiest congratulations on another superb jazz weekend. It has always been one of my year’s highlights. I still consider it to be the best, and am already making my plans for next year. I suppose, having had that bye pass surgery, and being 71 by then, I should add in that old Latin caveat “DV”.

I would also like to say “thank you” to all the friends who I see there every year. They all help to make the weekend so enjoyable. The Swanage Jazz Festival is vastly more than just great jazz. It is a great experience.

Geoff Cronin