Tuesday, July 31, 2018

This Week at Hedsor

We have are a return of saxophonist Simon Spillett to play alongside Lester Brown. With Stuart Barker on bass, and other recognisable usual suspects, this should be an exciting and unique session.

Last week I did manage to get it wrong (again), as the guest alongside Peter Cook was that wonderful vibraphone player Alan Grahame. A gig I was very sorry to miss. One of our regulars sent me this email about the evening:-

Hi Geoff, Glad to read that you enjoyed the Swanage Jazz Festival. I am moved to report on last nights gig at Hedsor, now where shall I start? I think it must be with that vibraphonic marvel of the age (and what an age) namely Alan Grahame. To say he played well would be the understatement of the year; he was FANTASTIC ! His solo piece on Stardust was nothing short of Divine. Well, I must give some credit to the other Musos - Pete Cook turned in an exemplary performance (what a fine alto player he is). Pete? Riddell contributed some very nice bass-work, and Nigel Very nearly played his socks off! Martin contributed some tasty fills as usual and, all in all, it amounted to a wonderful night of jazz- yoyful in fact. Kindest regards, Alan.

That was from Alan Peppett. The bass in fact was Steve Riddle, and perhaps Alan meant “Joyful”. Youful might be a bit too Hep! But you can see why I was sad not to be with you last week.

I had another email this week, this time from our Brunel student Rory. He wanted me to correct the impression my blog made the other week. I said that the first half of the evening was by students from Brunel. In fact they were from the NYJO Academy, and the band are actually called the Harrison Dolphin Trio. Harrison is from Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Here is the link to Harrison's website: 

It was another unmissable session I missed this summer!

Next week of course I really really want to be with you, because it is my annual celebration of survival, and this year it has another zero in the number of years survived. So to miss the guests we have coming (see last weeks blog, and the poster, now plus Duncan Lamont jnr) to play, and the guests coming to help me home (!!)...that would be a disaster!

Listening at home last week I had 2 real CD joys.

I had never really listened much in the past to saxophonist Ike Quebec. To me in the late 50’s and 60’s I thought of him as another sort of Earl Bostic, flashy, but not a serious contender. After all, I was catching up on Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Tony Coe and Bruce Turner at the time! Since then I have discovered many more of the great saxophonists of jazz, but somehow Ike Quebec was still not on my radar. Last week I heard for the first time his CD (it had been an early Blue Note LP) “Blue and Sentimental”. Absolutely knocked me out. As did the playing of guitarist Grant Green on this album too. There are some wonderful moments on this release, “Blues for Charlie”, with hair raising fills from drummer Philly Joe Jones for one. The recording is of Hi Fi demo standards, and I heartily recommend trying this reissue. Blue Note 0946 3 93184 2 1 (released I think in 2007).

The other was a CD I have had in my collection for years, but pulled out again last week, having listened to the Benny Goodman recreations at The Swanage Jazz Festival.

On the CD it is titled “Benny Goodman 16 Top Tracks”, but in effect it is most of the recordings made by BG in MOSCOW in 1962. I had forgotten how good it was, with a band that included alto saxophonist Phil Woods and tenorist Zoot Sims, plus pianists John Bunch and Teddy Wilson, and British vibraphone player Victor Feldman what a band it was. All of the music recorded in BG’s Russian tour is now available on an Avid 2 CD release. Go find, it is GREAT music.

Well that's about it for now. Try not to get into too much mischief these next few days, and I really hope to see you ALL  on Thursday

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


A brief nag this week about our front line guests for this Thursday July 26th

Saxophonist Peter Cook will again be joined by a guitarist. I am delighted to say that Max Brittain will be that guitarist. Great to have him with us again.

I was unable to be with you at Hedsor last week, but Geoff Swaffield took some photos of the Brunel University guys. I understand they showed great promise for the future of jazz.

Our Guys still show great promise (I am told)!

Next Week (August 2nd) we look forward to return visit (almost straight from Swanage) of Simon Spillett. Lester Brown will be alongside on trumpet.

The following week, August 9th is very special to me, and it will be another of our Gala buffet nights (I almost said Gala Pie nights). We will have trombone luminary Roy Williams alongside Lester Brown and saxophonist Duncan Lamont jnr. We will also have the lovely lady singer from Ealing, Gill Cook, to assist me in celebrating a special year of survival. I also have about 15 guests from my past coming to remind me of how old I am!! Some tickets are still available, see Dee, at £10 each.
Gill Cook

Below are a few more photos of my Swanage Jazz Festival holiday.


Old Harry Rock (with his wife beside him!)

David Newton pre perfomance

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Part 2 of My View of the Swanage Jazz Festival


The Lindop Tent

Alan Barnes and Dave Newton Duo

I have listened to these two for many years and never been disappointed. Another of this year’s highlights for me. Simple but beautiful music played by two craftsmen who have known and worked with each other for years. A grand piano in the modern jazz tent this year, not an upright, added to the enjoyment. And the sounds Dave created on it were magical. Alan again comparing with his usual wit and humour. The usual reference to sounds coming from the other tent “the tradies are getting restless gain”. This time of magical music passed too soon.

BUT it was followed by a recreation of the Legendary Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert, with Pete Long on clarinet and members, some of whom had performed already this year, of the Jazz Repertory Company. Most jazz fans will know the music from this concert. How it was saved on shellac as a private Goodman recording for his own use, and how many years later, in the era of the LP it was issued for us all to hear. For me it was a “must” session. I have long loved this music, and I was born in 1938! And it was almost all there, including a recreation of the trio and sexted tunes played in 1938 by Goodman and Lionel Hampton, performed here by Pete Long and with Anthony Kerr on vibes. Pete long apparently had to rush back to London for another gig, and the end seemed a little rushed, but “Sing Sing Sing” with Richard Pite pretending to be Gene Krupa, even using, we were told, Krupa’s original symbols, was really exciting. Joan Viskant was the Martha Tilton of the afternoon, perhaps reminding us that in 1938 the singer was not the star, the bandleader was!

An entertaining session, with a strong reminder as to why big band music of the swing era was such a success.

I took a siesta after that and returned later to The Lindop Tent for another recreation performed by the Jazz Repertory Company, this time of one of the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts that became popular during and after the war, and eventually became a Norman Granz touring group, bringing American Modern Jazz to Europe.

It was a good session, but really a bit like an enlarged Friday or Saturday jam session, and I don’t think it had any real relevance to JATP. Everyone had a blow, and a good time was had by all, which is always good. This time it did also include our new benefactor, Nigel Price on guitar. He led the parade on Saturday in his weddings and funeral suite, and I think he still had it on on Sunday evening.

I know Nigel worked prodigiously hard throughout the weekend as an organiser, I was handed my wrist bands by him on Friday afternoon. I also know that he has worked very hard to bring us all to this 28th Swanage Jazz festival. Lets hope with everyone’s support we will see many more Swanage Jazz Festivals. Did I think at the end of the weekend that it was worth the expense, yes, many times over.

One final point, you can book your accommodation for next year!!



Friday Night  

the tribute to the LOUIS armstrong all stars
Jam Sessions in the Con Club were led by Andy Davis


The Tribute to JJ Johnson and Frank Roslino
Rhythm Section was led by Craig Milverton


Note Re Photography:

I only take photos from my seated position and don't use flash. I don't want to hinder others enjoyment by becoming a performance myself! Some of the pictures therefore are not always of great quality! I do hope however that they give you a feel for the atmosphere of the festival.

Swanage 2018

Well, my view of it anyway!

Part 1

And my first comment must be what a wonderful job Nigel Price has made of taking over this famous 28 year old jazz festival.

On the whole the good bits of previous years have been kept, and the innovations and changes Nigel has brought in have improved on the old.

The use of the Big Tops has 2 advantages. In the heat this summer the darker side and roof panel kept out a lot of the heat compared with previous hot summer festival marquees. The higher roof space also gave more air. I also think the multi lane seating plan gave better access. One downside of the darker sidewalls was that at night it was pretty dark in the Big Tops. This did improve after Friday but coming in out of the sun into a marquee was a bit of a problem, especially if you were looking for someone!

The sound systems were a definite improvement on previous years, and this may have a correlation with the marquee wall materials. But the sound was excellent. I am sure the young lady sound engineer has now got over Alan Barnes remark, when she was trying to adjust Bruce Adams microphone on Friday night “Don’t worry love he always sounds like that and you wont be able to improve it”

Food availability next to the Big Tops was good, perhaps the choice could have been wider. The provision of one common external bar for both Marquees was on the whole a good idea, as was the covered table and seating area for it. It did keep the bar noise away from the music, always a contentious issue. However, the fact that the music breaks for both marquees coincided did mean that at times there were long queues for beer and food.

One goes to jazz festivals to hear jazz, and this year the standard and choice were as wide (or wider) than ever. I am less able to get about these days, so some of the venues were not accessible to me, but what I saw and heard was so good that at times it brought genuine tears to my eyes. Here I am still able to hear such wonderful music performed by such talented musicians 17 years after being taken away from the side of a marquee for heart surgery. I returned to Swanage Jazz in 2002 4 months after open heart surgery and only a few days after my son died. I went away form that years festival with his funeral still to be. The Swanage jazz Festival has been an important part of my live ever since.

Marquee 1. The Bateman Brothers tribute to the Louis Armstrong All Stars.

Great fun, and pretty well done. Not many hands went up when the audience was asked if anyone had actually seen Louis and His All Stars. Mine was one!

I’ll try and list all the musicians at the end of the article, but I did love the introduction to the singer Rachel Pennell. OK, it was a bit dark, but I thought she did look a bit like Velma Middleton even if it was being denied on the microphone!

However I didn’t realise that I would be seeing Ian Bateman at most sessions over the weekend! If you look at the pictures you will see a lot of him!

The Lindop Tent. The Alan Barnes Octet

What a stellar line up! Modern jazz at its very best. Not only was the music very good, but Alan makes such a fun compere. Good comedy, but with information too. I was telling myself this early in the weekend that this session was worth the price of the whole weekend. Well, when all is counted (ticket, food accommodation…) maybe not. But it was VERY good.

The evening is over. Oh no it isn’t, not this year. One of the innovations introduced this year was the jam session run in the Conservative Club from 11 pm on to 1 am. I managed it ‘till the interval. Great trumpet playing by the sessions compere Andy Davies, with Andy Cleyndert on bass, Craig Milverton keyboard and drummer Nick Millward, joined, as the evening went by, by a lady on electric bass, and trombonist Ian Bateman!

The only drawback for this session, although the club had been granted a licence extension, they didn’t open the bar in the upstairs room. Your refreshment had to be purchased downstairs, a real drawback, and I noted angst by a number of punters.

But then, my B&B was only a few doors away and I felt the need to reach it and be embraced by the wonderful room I had in it. I have used the Robertsbrook Guest House for 10 years now. It is EXCELLENT. Clare who runs it is a regular joy!

Saturday, and still the sun shines! And before we get to a Marquee we walk the streets behind the brass band parade, umbrellas and all. It was good to see it start at the Railway Station as it used too, and even better that it finished up on the field by the tents!

Marquee 1

Martin Litton’s “Red hot Peppers”.

Having only recently seen Martin in Christ Church Marlow I thought I would go and hear his recreation of Jelly Roll Morton’s big band music. Not having heard JR myself except on record, I can only say it sounded pretty good. I can only wonder at what my mother would have thought of this kind of big band music when she first heard it in the 1920’s. To our ears it is an “old” sound, but still vibrant and tuneful. Back in the 1920’s it would have been revolutionary. This music was created only a few years after ragtime and was often very rag timed. Again, Martin made a very good compere and educator. Sadly I didn't manage to save any photos from this session

The Lindop Tent

Yes, I know I could cram more music into my stroller ticket, but I have learnt that one has to keep a balance to these weekends and not cram too much in, or you land up with musical indigestion. So after a period of digestion, I returned to the Lindop Tent to listen to one of Hedsor’s favourite son’s, Simon Spillett. Not headlining here, but with trombonist Ian Bateman playing a tribute to Frank Rosolino and JJ Johnson. It was fast becoming Ian Batemans weekend, but it was an entertaining session, playing some tunes I hadn’t heard for some years.

I still remember listening with my drummer friend in his father’s pub (The Blue Anchor in Hammersmith Reach) to the J and K album when it first came out. The Wiffenpoof Song being played as a jazz tune was a revelation. I was still playing trad! Not that I heard it at Swanage, but maybe Mr Bateman hadn’t heard it when I did!

It was good to hear Simon playing someone else’s choice of material, and very good that he was very well received by the Swanage faithful. Hedsor doesn’t really know how lucky it is to have such talent come to us and be a friend to us.

I did take a break then but returned for the second set of Scott Hamilton and pianist/singer Campion Fulton. Now I was a little disappointed with what I heard. I consider Scott Hamilton to be a true jazz star of the present-day jazz era and I got the impression that MS Fulton considered herself to be THE star of the show. She is enjoyable to listen to, both as a singer and a pianist, but from what I heard she took over, leaving Scott as a support act. I felt that it showed a lack of respect, to use an overused protest phrase of today!

Then in the same marquee, after a food break, the highlight of my weekend.

The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra.

Superb. Great tunes played well, with an impact of sound. Excellent solos, (what a cast list), with great direction from drummer Richard Pite.

By now though believe it or not it was getting a bit chilly, and I didn’t stay for all of the second set. I had not anticipated the need to take a pullover out on such a hot day, and by the time I got back to my digs I was shivering! And so to bed, without the jam
session at the Con Club.