Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Special Night at Hedsor Jazz

This week at Hedsor Jazz we have another of our occasional nights that could be called “special”!

No, it is NOT a ticketed event. Come and pay the usual £7 at the door. BUT we will have a few nibbles to chomp during the interval.

But that isn’t the reason it is “special”. We have coming to “play” for us on Thursday a singer. OK we have had singers before, but this week it is not a lady singer, but a man! He will be only the second male singer to perform for us at Hedsor (Michael L. Roberts being the first).

Peter Jones has released at least 3 CD’s under his own name, usually accompanied by people such as Vasilis Xenopoulos and/or Nigel Price, both names familiar to Hedsor Jazz members. This week saxophonist Duncan Lamont junior will accompany him. Duncan has been to us a number of times recently but Peter has never been to Hedsor before. Peter and Duncan have not played together before either, so we have the makings of another true great jazz event which I hope makes the prospect interesting enough for you to come out and support, even without the half promise of a sausage roll!

I planned this event with Peter without reference to last year’s diary. Why would I want to look back at last year I year I hear you think? In my planning I just wanted to celebrate the fact that I had gone past another milestone in my earthly survival. So I had fitted in with Peter’s diary as well as ours at Hedsor. Sadly when looking back on September 28th last year I saw it was the day Ken Rankine passed away. Ironic really. BUT it does give us another reason to come out to Hedsor Jazz.

Ken played for us so many times. He was a founder member of “The Clive Burton Quintet”, and played the bass for us nearly up until his death. I discovered in tidying up my in tray this week photos taken last year whilst I was in hospital in May of Ken playing for last years Cancer Research fundraiser, alongside Karen Sharp and Stuart Henderson.
So for whatever reason, perhaps just to celebrate that Hedsor Jazz has also survived since at least 2002, do come and be part of this weeks Hedsor Jazz. It starts at 8.30pm

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tonight at Hedsor Jazz

Sad to say but Clive Burton is still unwell and will not be able to be with us tonight. 

To keep Mike Wills company this week we will have guitarist Terry Hutchins. 

Terry has been to Hedsor once before, on the Alan Grahame Celebration night, and it will be good to have him for the full duration of evening.

Terry Hutchins at the Alan Grahame Celebration

Geoff C

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hedsor Jazz Plus

Last week was blogless, basically because I used my time to write a “Newsletter” to put out at Hedsor for people who don’t read my online blog to at least read a bit about recent things at Hedsor Jazz. It was well received, and I will reproduce it as best I can for those who didn’t get to read it last week to at least have a read this week!! I will try, as requested, and do a paper newsletter about once a month.

It was another of those sad weeks when Clive had to ring late in the day and say that he again wasn’t well enough to come. In his place we had Mark Aston. Again, “thank you” to Mark for turning out at very short notice to come and play alongside Mike Wills for us.

And what an array of instruments we had last week! Mike had his alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, and Mark brought his alto and tenor saxophones. BUT he also plays TROMBONE!! And brought it along for a couple of tunes as a tribute (he said) to Clive.

Photos by Geoff Swaffield

We all had a wonderful night and a number of people took the trouble to say they had enjoy the spontaneous fun that was generated. This is all the more surprising as Mark (who works for BP) hadn’t finished work on Wednesday until 2am on Thursday!! He thought he was going to have a light night on Thursday, but instead, he got Hedsor! 

Thanks must also go to Ken McCarthy who was depping last week for Nigel Fox on keyboard.

This week we all hope that Clive feels up to coming, and maybe we will have some of the original Quintet tunes and arrangements that we used to get played.

Last week was “special” for a completely different kind of reason. Some months ago I had mentioned to Simon Spillett that I had some reel-to-reel tapes in my loft of recordings made many years ago. Most had come off of BBC Radio and although he enjoyed one of two that I had dubbed to CD, they could not be more widely shared, as they were BBC copyright.

But I did have one that was recorded in the days of “The Bell” in Maidenhead and I copied it onto a CD for Simon.

In 1972 Philips portable cassette recorders were beginning to make their way on to the domestic market. In the 1970’s “The Bell” in Maidenhead was THE place to hear modern jazz. The Lennie Best Quartet was the regular backing band, and it equally regularly had some very special guests, one being Dick Morrissey. 

On August 8th 1972 a Philips Cassette recorder and Dick Morrissey came together. I was a regular at “The Bell” in those days, and on August 8th 1972 I went with a friend who took along his portable recorder. I asked Dick if we could record him, showed him what on, and he realised it could not outgun any studio equipment he was used to, and for the price of a pint he said “yes”!

Later that month I copied the cassette recording made that night on to a reel to reel recorder, and after a few weeks enjoying it, forgot all about it. Until talking with Simon this year!!

Using his contacts he has now managed to get a “proper” CD of about 1 hour of the music from that night produced and issued (last week) on The Acrobat label. It just so happens that there are very (very) few recordings of Dick playing modern jazz made during this period, so this recording, having lain in my loft for 40 years, is now available for all to hear. And the recording isn’t too bad. Like most portable recorders, the tape has managed to balance the drums ahead of the piano, but it is all very listenable. For those who were there on the night what a nostalgic souvenir to have. For those who weren’t there, but who appreciate Dick Morrissey’s jazz playing, I am so pleased that it can now be heard again. Take a listen to "Over the Rainbow" and you will realise why we miss Dick as we do.

Simon has written a superb essay to go with the sleeve notes. It might be worth buying for those alone, but the real joy is in the music and in having a bit more of Dick Morrissey to listen to.
Acrobat CD ACMCD4395

Now that Newsletter:-

Most of you know I publish a blog, Jazz from Geoff (http://jazzfromgeoff.blogspot.co.uk). This week, and especially for those few who don’t read that for one reason or another, I thought I would go into Hard Print!

As has been obvious to all who have come to Hedsor Jazz this year, our band leader and master of ceremonies Clive Burton has not been very well and quite a number of times we have had to
reorganise what we do at very short notice. Can I thank all of you for your continuing loyalty. You have kept supporting us no matter what. Thankfully sometimes our very quickly reorganised Thursday Sessions have become quite magical. So not only you, the audience, should be thanked, but an especial thanks must be given to all the musicians who have generously stepped in and supported Hedsor Jazz over this past difficult year.  Clive continues to receive treatment, and he will be getting another scan at the beginning of October. We wish him well (we do need him!).

We quickly realised that we had always relied on his PA system too. When he wasn’t at Hedsor,
neither was his PA! So Hedsor Jazz now have our own system. This is set up and taken down by our own resident sound engineer, Geoff Swaffield (ex BBC!), so another big “Thank You”.

Someone else (we found out the hard way,) we missed was Dee! She too has had time away due to illness this year, and we must thank Helen Weinblatt for stepping in and handling the ins and outs from the Red Box during Dee’s absence! And of course thank you Dee, welcome back again and I’m sure all the musicians thank you for your regular cash payments!!

In a conversation with Tina May at the Swanage Jazz Festival (see below), she pointed out that the jazz fraternity is a big family. This year Hedsor Jazz  has shown this family bond more than ever. We are a friendly bunch. We love the same kind of music and enjoy sharing it together. However, we are aware that there is more chat and that it continues whilst the music is being played. This is distracting to those who want to listen and disrespectful to our musicians. Please do talk to each other— but please not during the music. 

Talking of music……….

In July we had a really memorable evening as Alan Grahame Celebrated his Life in Music. It was a truly unique event, with 3 hours of continuous music from some of the best jazz musicians in the country. It was a privilege for Hedsor Jazz to host such an event.

Now that event took place very close to the time when I have in previous years celebrated MY life and friendships in the jazz fraternity (often in recent years, I have just celebrated survival)!

This year my celebration is a delayed event and I’m doing it in a slightly lower key (!) I have invited singer Peter Jones to come and help me mark the passage of time together with saxophonist Duncan Lamont Junior. They will be joined by our regular Clive Burton Quintet. This will take place on SEPTEMBER 28th. I might stretch to a few nibbles for half time, but our usual entry charge of £7 will apply as will our usual start time of 8.30pm. Last month Peter released a new CD. I have his 2016 release (see artwork) and I know we will all have a splendid evening “with a difference”.

Peter Jones

Another event to put in your diary is our Christmas party. During this year’s Swanage Jazz Festival (sadly it was also the last !) I chatted with another singer, Tina May, and she said how she would like to come to Hedsor Jazz again. She helped us celebrate Christmas a few years ago, and she is going to do it again this year. This will be on December 21st. And as last time, we have invited Alan Grahame to come and help as well.

Thank you to all who make up The Hedsor Jazz Club. For all your support and friendship, and for the wonderful music—we look forward to many more hours of shared jazz.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Well, this is a novelty! A blog about jazz, from Geoff, and on a Tuesday!!

Last week I was away in East Anglia, visiting friends and relations, who, because of the isolation of the area from me, don’t get visited very often. Then one crams in too many people in too short a time. Hence, I didn’t get to Hedsor last week for a session which, I’m assured by those who did, was great.

The Helmet Replica at Sutton Hoo
This week on Thursday, we have our regular band back again!! The Clive Burton Quintet! Be prepared to hear some of the tunes from their book, ones we haven’t recently heard. You will recognise them, but please, don’t sing along with them!

Since getting home from last week trip I have been watching (so far only the first half) the BBC Prom on “Swing”.

What a joy to see many musicians we know. Some have played Hedsor, some we are still saving up for! One I don’t think we will ever be able to afford is Hiromi. She is an incredibly talented pianist whom I first hear about 12 years ago in Brecon. She trained alongside Vasilis Xenopoulos at The Berkley Collage of Music near Boston, Mass. and I must say I was surprised to see her being used as a replica for Mary Lou Williams. However she is an incredible musician and if you get the chance to see her, especially with her own trio, go for it.

We did see on that Prom though many others we know. I wonder if you noticed them all, and counted them off as Hedsor Players! It did seem this year as though the BBC have woken up to the fact that jazz musicians are really good musicians. And the music is worthy of being presented in its original form with some history of its story being told a well. There then IS a glimmer of hope after all.

In the ensemble were two saxophonists I have written about before, because I saw them a couple of years ago at the “late” Swanage Jazz Festival. Karen Sharp has played Hedsor a couple of times, but as yet, Robert Fowler hasn’t. They put out a CD on the 33 Records label a few years ago that is a wonderful piece of jazz to have at home. Paying and Playing tribute to Al Cohn and Zoot Simms called “Brandy and Beer” (cat number 33Jazz192) it is superbly played and recorded, and as the sleeve says ”Karen is in the left speaker and Rob in the right”!

A CD I mentioned a year or so ago was brought to mind by the BBC paying tribute to Mary Lou Williams. Yes, she is under represented under her own name in the record catalogues. However the Dutch Jazz Orchestra put out a CD in 2005 on the Challenge Records label playing music she wrote that had largely been unrecorded. It is well worth a listen. It’s titled “The Lady Who Swings the Band” and the cat number is CR73251.

Needless to say I think both the above CD’s are worth searching out.

Thinking of the BBC Proms broadcasting JAZZ, did anyone record the Mingus Prom? I missed most of it, heard some on the Radio, and would love to see as well as hear it. Bits of it are already on YouTube, but it would be nice to see all of it.

One last point today. I’m old fashioned, but I like actually owning the CD’s themselves, with their plastic boxes and their sleeve notes. I like holding the boxes as I listen, often referring to the notes even for recordings I have had for years. Sometimes it is good just to refer to the artwork that the recording has inspired.  I know that many people now would rather “stream” their music than collect it. Do bear in mind when you do this, that in buying the hard copies you do actually contribute towards the musicians who play on them, and to the companies that have actually taken the trouble to get it to you in the second place!!

AND do remember that music is still a living product. Live Jazz needs to be kept alive. It shouldn’t just be brought out as a quaint reminder of things past!