Monday, December 17, 2018

The Last Blog Before Christmas

And probably the last before our first gig at Hedsor for 2019, which will be on January 10th 2019, (although I might put out a wake up call in early January).

I don’t want to do a full review of 2018, just to say that we have been royally entertained throughout the year, with some really great Jazz being played at “The Hedsor Social Club” (cue for a chant!). If you want a recap on the year, just look back through my previous blogs and have a re read!

The fears that Hedsor jazz might fold after the loss of our dear Clive have been put to rest. What we have experienced is the support of a lot of top jazz talent coming to play at Hedsor for, I will admit, not a lot of money. I feel that they came initially to support us, and then came again after they realized that our support team are really very good and that our audience do know their jazz onions, (no, not the Bechet song!).

Over the past 12 months we have all had sessions that have been our favourites, and the great thing about jazz is that they have not been all our own favourites!! Each person is an individual and likes different aspects of jazz (now there’s a title for an album!) and each one has their own favourite player and style of music.

Next year we hope to see more of Mike Wills, our reed man for many years, and of Lester Brown our new trumpet and flugel horn member of the front line. But we will be having guests, some whom we have been before, and some whom we haven’t seen before as well.

Now and again we will have award winning musicians playing for us, just as  we have had in the past.

One thing we do need and that is a bigger audience. What we have with our music is a quality product, but it needs to be more widely known, and that is down to all of you.

We will try to do more public advertising, but that costs quite a lot of money and personally I would rather have that money spent on the performers. So please, see what you can do to spread the word.

Hedsor Jazz is, in today’s world, remarkable. We meet EVERY WEEK, and we always have TOP PLAYERS, and they are always backed by a quality rhythm section. AND WE HAVE BEEN DOING SO at The Hedsor Social Club SINCE 2002. Once upon a time the club was pretty run down, but now it is a first class place to spend an evening, with first class liquids to keep you refreshed and very nice people to serve you. Once we would have had to sort of apologize for the venue, but not any more. SO one Thursday why don’t you invite a friend to come with you? There is a real difference in hearing live music, and at Hedsor, you can actually talk to the musicians. Just see what a reaction you get when you offer to buy them a drink!

I would like to thank again all those who actively participate in running “our” Hedsor Jazz. I mentioned last week the rolls played, you can add the names. But without their weekly committed support Hedsor Jazz would not happen.

This week do not forget our start time of 8pm. It will cost you £10 each because it is our PARTY NIGHT.
Karen Sharp and Tina May
Stuart at Hedsor in 2014

This year our special guests are world renowned singer Tina May, this years winner of the best UK tenor sax player award, Karen Sharp, and once a trumpet player for the Queen, Stuart Henderson. To assure yourself of a ticket before the night, go to Cookham’s “Stationery Depot”. Alternatively you can risk getting in on the door. If the latter do come early! Apart from mine, there are no reserved seats!

Below you will find a few photos from last weeks session with Sue Greenway and Alan Grahame.

This session worked well, and I have promised Sue that we will get her back before next December. I don’t think Alan and Sue had played together before, and Sue told a lovely story about her childhood and her attempts to play a vibraphone belonging to a friend of her parents. Last Thursday was the first time she had played saxophone with a vibraphone accompaniment since!

A special thanks too, for over the past 2 weeks we have had Ken McCarthy on keyboard and Mike Jeffries on drums whilst our regulars have taken a holiday. Isn't it rather special that such deps are often just in our audience! They are wonderful musicians, and it was very nice to have them as our rhythm section for the past 2 weeks. I'm not going to forget to thank Steve Riddle either. He wasn't a dep, he is one of our 3 regular members of the bass playing fraternity and will be playing for us this week too! 

Last weeks session was well supported, which just show that cold weather cannot always be blamed for poor audience numbers!


If you are still wondering what auntie can get you for Christmas (or what you can get for Auntie!) I can recommend Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith’s 2017 album “Embodying the Light”. (Spartacus Records STS025)

Now this album is dedicated to John Coltrane, so it may tell you that it is in the newer part of the modern jazz spectrum. But it is not a copy or a clone of John Coltrane’s music. It is music inspired by John Coltrane. It is wonderfully played, (and recorded), and as well as Mr Smith, it has Pete Johnstone on keyboard, Calaum Gourley on bass and Sebastiaan de Krom on drums. It is grown up music, and like most good scotch, goes down well and sweeps you along. The playing is top rate, and it really is worth a listen. It will suit Hi Fi fans a treat too.

So, I hope to see you all on Thursday. Our regular rhythm section are back from there hols, so we will see Nigel Fox on keyboard and Martin Hart on drums, our bass player will be the young and wonderful Steve Riddle.

If for some inescapable, unexplainable, reason I don’t see you in the coming few days, I do hope you all have a truly wonderful Christmas time, and we all look forward to a new New Year in 2019.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hedsor Jazz

Hedsor Jazz, like most of us, is preparing for Christmas. BUT like most of us, although busy and preoccupied with “what the h*** do I get for h** and will what I have already ordered get to me on time", we are still looking forward to, and have planned for, more excellent jazz music. Not just for our Christmas party on December 20th (tickets are now available) but for this Thursday too.

Below I have put in our gig list, now complete up to the end of January. I have also added in the address of where the jazz takes place, something the last printing of the flyer missed off. NOW you can take and place our flyer anywhere and people will be able to find us! Thank you Gil for finding out the hard way that we were very shy about where we enjoyed the music!

Last week was another of those exceptional gigs where the sum of the parts far exceeded the individuals playing them! Al Nicholls had only played with Lester Brown once before, but last week they really played like a pair who were on the same page all the time. I will reproduce just one of the comments I had by email next day—

I just have to say how much I enjoyed the jazz last evening, it was exceptionally good and the performers played out of their skins - well almost! The interplay between Al Nicholls and Lester Brown was sublime, one might even say magical!

I know most of you there agreed. Really we have had some great music this past year. Thank you to all who help to make it happen. No, no names, but we have to advertise, sell tickets, man (?) the till, run the sound, put up the lights, book the players, produce food etc etc. Oh, and yes, there is a bar as well!

And last week we had unexpected food. I did a double take as I went in, seeing food on the table and thinking “have I been asleep for a fortnight? Is it December 20th already!!” No, Dee treated us to celebrate some sort of birthday!! Yet another thank you. It was really enjoyable.

Photos from Last Week

So, I wonder what this week will bring.

The music will be provided by Sue Greenway on tenor sax, Alan Grahame on vibraphone, Ken McCarthy on keyboard, Steve Riddle on bass and Mike Jeffries on drums.

The ability to keep the music alive will be provided by YOU.

For those looking to buy a CD for a loved one (or yourself) for Christmas, but don’t want “Your Best Christmas Tunes” again, why not try Tony Bennett and Diana Krall “Our Love is Here to Stay”. It sounds like an unlikely duo, but really they work well together despite the large difference in ages. They are both good singers, and the accompaniment by the Bill Charlap Trio excellent. The only down side is it is only of 36 minutes duration, but that was about what we were used to in the old days of LP’s. Mind you, those days are coming back, and I think you can buy this album in LP as well as CD format.

If you cant get to buy your ticket from Dee this week for Our Christmas Party ( and I need a sick note if you cant!), then you can do a Lonnie Donegan and Buy Your Ticket at The Station(ery) Depot on the Cookham Line!

TTFN, and enjoy your Christmas Shopping!

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Hedsor Jazz “Times”!

I have a relatively free day today, and as I missed a blog last week when I was in rural (cold) Suffolk I thought I would write this weeks a day early.

It gives me time to look not just forward, but back too.

Forward, well, there is still a lot to look forward to. Coming this Thursday our guest is that wonderful swing style saxophonist Al Nicholls.

Al has been guesting with “our” band since it was called “Century Jazz” and we often saw him in what used to be called “The Cookham Tavern”, now Costa’s Coffee. He was a regular guest with The Clive Burton Quintet in both “The Garibaldi” (until we moved to The Hedsor Social Club after we found the Gari had no music licence!) and has been many times since we have been at The Hedsor Social Club, but not so often recently. Sadly for him and gladly for us, his regular Thursday gig in London has finished, and we can welcome him back more often again.

He was a guest on that famous yellow cd double album with Clive’s band paying tribute to Keith Vitty (founder of Century Jazz) that was recorded at Maidenheads Norden Farm. If you still haven’t got a copy of this double album let me know, as I still have some! I know Al thought it was the best recording of HIS sound he had had up to that time.

The following week, and whilst Martin is away, we have a return visit of lady saxophonist Sue Greenway. Sadly Sue was our guest, almost exactly a year ago, on the night that Glenn collapsed at Hedsor. This time Sue will be paired with our vibs player Alan Graham. She is a lovely player and I’m sure this evening will be a really joyful one.

For the next two weeks, whilst Martin is away with his family in New York (where the weather is forecast as being sunny but cold) we will have two great guys acting as deps. On drums, Mike Jeffries, and on keyboard Ken McCarthy. There are very few jazz clubs that can summon up such quality deps and we are privileged indeed to have them often in our audience as well.

Looking back over the past couple of weeks, last weeks gig was a special. To have Roy Williams twice in a year is wonderful, even if, in the dark, he found Hedsor hard to find! To pair him with Frank Griffith was extremely nostalgia making, with strong echoes of Clive and “our” quintet. I know that Frank wanted to bring that trombone sound to us again to Hedsor and indeed it was nice to hear the combination of saxophone and trombone again. It was unfortunately a memory that Jan Burton just could not face last week.

Jan has faced a complete house refurbishment in these last few months, which hasn’t made home life easy for her, but the net result will make her home much more comfortable in the future. It has been so good to have her with us at Hedsor as often as she has been able to, and a special thanks to all who have given her a lift to and from West Reading this past year.

The week before last we had the combination of vibraphone player Alan Grahame with guitarist Max Brittain. This gave us the opportunity of hearing some less familiar tunes AND kept Nigel Fox off of his keyboard vibraphone button. I’m still trying to remember how Frank Griffith referred to him after Nigel hit that button half way though a solo. Was it Nigel Feldman Fox or Victor Foxman?

With Mike Wills unable to come to us during half the year it has enabled us to have some interesting front line combinations, which I feel has been entertaining for us punters and sometimes challenging for the players. I for one have enjoyed this variety. Do let Martin know who you have particularly enjoyed so that we can book them again, and don’t forget that if you want a particular musician to come and play for us at Hedsor jazz, you yourself could sponsor the cost of that player. When you are next at Hedsor do pick up our gig list, now showing all our gigs until the end of January.

So, Hedsor Jazz is soon going to be celebrating another Christmas Party. I know I don’t need to tell you that it will be with Tina May, Karen Sharp and Stuart Henderson as guest (but I have!). Tickets will be for sale this coming Thursday at Hedsor for £10 each. I will have a few posters (like those below) with me on Thursday this week for you to place before the public, please do your best to make our party and Hedsor Jazz better know.

Hedsor Jazz has survived another year.

                     It has often been a difficult year.

                                                  We still need to fill the empty seats.

We have ideas for the future and I think you can assume the music will always be jazz of a very high quality. So perhaps for 2019 YOU could help spread the word about Hedsor Jazz, thus keeping live jazz ALIVE in South Bucks.