Thursday, July 27, 2017

Swanage Report Additions and Corrections 

Due to various attempts to correct errors, both my own and those generated by Blogger, I have reworked my report on The Last Swanage Jazz Festival and produced a PDF file of it. 

My report was originally produced using MS Publisher, but some of the text got lost in translation. SO do have a read using the DropBox link below:-

Thanks for your extra effort!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Thoughts  and Experiences of the 2017 (and last?) 
Swanage Jazz Festival (Part 2)

The afternoon in Marquee 2 had one of the best sessions of the weekend. Great music, with everyone having fun. Tina May (who really does want to come to Hedsor again) with Art Theman tenor and soprano sax, John Donaldson piano, Simon Thorpe bass and a super drummer in Winston Clifford. ALL of the qualities of “our” kind of music were present. Lovely tunes, great interaction amongst the band, superb musicianship, and even some audience participation. What a way to finish a
Sunday afternoon.

After a meal in the new Harry Ramsden restaurant I got back into Marquee 2 in time for the finale of Swanage Jazz. An all star aggregation of British Jazz. Dave Newton piano, Andy Cleyndert bass, Clark Tracey drums, with Alan Barnes, Robert Fowler, Art Theman, Alex Garnet on saxophones various, Steve Fishwick trumpet and Mark Nightingale on trombone. It should have been a terrific climax to Swanage Jazz as they played their way through a suite called “Bootleg Eric”.
Unfortunately for me, and for many of the initially packed house, it didn’t do it. Head arrangements, long wandering solos by everyone every time, and nothing to actually hold it all together apart from the scores.

This was sad. The end of a jazz festival for which we must all thank Fred Lindup and his helpers for organising and for giving us a template of how a jazz festival should be. No world music, no pop stars, just JAZZ. Plenty of it and all for all of 28 years.

Someone MUST take it over and run it for the nation! Surely a council could see the sense in keeping it going. Swanage Town Council, (even the Mayor seemed to want it kept). Then there is Dorset County Council, or even The Arts Council itself. If too much time goes by before dates are announced for next year, IF there is to be a next year, people will be
looking elsewhere. It isn’t loosing audience or money. The template is there, the expertise is there, guidance I’m sure will be forthcoming. It needs people to physically help and a governing body to hold it together.

ME, I’m still trying to keep live jazz alive! In the names listed above, many have played Hedsor Jazz, and want to come again. I hope to continue as a part of that.

Geoff Cronin © 2017

My Thoughts  and Experiences of the 2017 (and last?) 
Swanage Jazz Festival (Part One)

The Swanage Jazz Festival has always been enjoyable. If it had not been, I would not have gone every year for over 25 years! Over those years it has grown and changed, but its main principle has remained the same. Stroller tickets only, no ticketed seating, a broad range of styles, and the best musicians from the UK and abroad. It was never as ambitious as
Brecon in importing Americans, but then it didn’t go broke either!

So to come to the last one has been a sad experience. Such a wonderful event in such a wonderful setting should not be
allowed to die. It is still well attended, Friday nights last concert was full to capacity. No, not a few dozen people, HUNDREDS of jazz fans.

Let me start by making a glancing comment about all of this years programming. It was thinner than usual. Always more than one thing to see, but not the depth of venue and therefore choice we have recently been used to. Some of my breaks mentioned below were longer than maybe I needed because there wasn’t a suitable alternative this year. This year for
example, the Conservative Club, a comfortable and popular venue from which, many years ago, I did an outside broadcast for Cookham Summer FM, was only available for Saturday.

Let me now go through what I did see.


I watched some of the Paul Towndrow set in Marquee 2 (the tent for Moderns!) but it didn’t do it for me. Relentless and tuneless were comments I heard from more than one knowledgeable source! All extremely capable players, but Duke Ellington had it right, “all you got to do is swing” and it didn’t. This was disappointing, as the players (Paul Towndrow alto sax, Steve Hamilton piano, Euan Burton bass and Alyn Cosker drums) all come from Scotland, and Paul himself plays with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (led by Tommy Smith), an orchestra for whom I have the highest admiration. Do check out their Duke Ellington CD.

However the following set was led by a tireless inspirer of young jazz musicians, tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint. He came over many years ago with Art Blaky’s Jazz Messengers, and since the 1980’s has been based in the UK and is very much
involved in jazz musical education. He gave us a set by his “Young Lions”, most of them in their 20’s! They were Mark Kavuma trumpet, Ashley Henry piano and Daniel Casimir drums. Now they swung, and how, and if you closed your eyes you could have sworn Freddy Hubbard was in this band. Try and catch them soon, because a number of them are going for further studies abroad.

And so to bed, yet again in the excellent Robertsbrook Guest House, my Swanage home for a number of the recent past years.


Breakfast, hearty food, and great company, as all of us at the Robertsbrook were there for the jazz, and Mike and Heather have been breakfast friends of long standing. Room wide conversations of “who” and “what” took place at every breakfast. However, we all proceeded down for the 10.30 am street parade, a simulation of New Orleans complete with coloured umbrellas!

Then I went on to the (for some) un-enterable Marquee 1, the trad tent! Why? Because it wasn’t “Trad” at all. Al Nicholls plays regularly every Thursday with the TJ Johnson Band, and that is a piano and vocal led group reminiscent of the music of Dr John. Great fun, and TJ has a good voice too. Al’s booting tenor sax cemented us firmly to it as a real jazz session. The rest of the ensemble are Jay Darwish bass, Tony Pitt guitar and ,OK, yes a banjo, (he did play for some pretty good trad bands of the 60’s after all). Wesley Gibbens was on drums. The band had been in Shrewsbury the night before, were playing London’s West End that night and were travelling to Cornwall for a Sunday gig!

For me after that I took a longish break in order to “prepare” for a climb of the hill to The Methodist Church. This required an afternoon siesta and sustenance. Sadly my evening meal was only memorable in so much as it was described as “ham egg and chips” and turned out to be 3 slices of sandwich ham, one small egg, chips and a bill for £10. Someone is taking the Michael!

The evening in the Methodist Church on paper looked to be most exciting venue to be at. Musically this was true, but the acoustics in the church are dreadful. It is very hard to hear individual notes. Simon Spillett with his trio (no piano) were first to battle with the sound, but his exciting, almost experimental, music was spoilt by the acoustic. With Simon was Simon Thorpe on bass and Spike Wells on drums.

Next, another of Hedsor Jazz’s favourite musicians. Nigel Price and his Organ Trio with Alex Garnett. Alex has not been to Hedsor, his Dad (Willie Garnett) has, and they did both come to Ken Rankine’s funeral on Portland. Ken and the Garnett family had been friends for nearly all of Alex’s life.

Yet again the acoustic almost defeated the music. I am so glad that we had Nigel with us so recently at Hedsor as his guitar sound was completely blotted just like ink used to be when dried with blotting paper! The shape was there, but blurred! The music, once one had penetrated the fog of room echo, was terrific.

With Nigel and Alex were the amazing Ross Stanley on organ (no NOT the church one!), and (according to the program) Matt Hone on drums. I must admit I was relying on the program to jog my memory for names as I didn’t take pen and paper notes, and in this instance it isn’t correct! 

I eventually called it a day at the interval.


You may have already guessed that Sunday morning I did not go to the gospel service led by  Dave Brennan’s Band Jubilee Jazz Band in the Methodist Church! Instead went to see a very young looking Dorset Youth Jazz Orchestra. Considering the oldest could only have been 18, and the youngest (maybe the bass player) looked to be about 11. They were very good. The level of musical grades they seem to have acquired is astonishing, many having grade 6 and some up to 8 and above. The lady pianist was also a grade 8 on the drums, which she ably demonstrated when she swapped with the regular drummer to play the kit for “Sing, Sing, Sing” a la The 1938 Benny Goodman’s band.

Next into Marquee 2 for a very good session with two altos and a tenor! Alan Barnes, Greg Abate and Art Theman, with Craig Milverton (I may be wrong, I’ll check my photos, but he did play some of the sessions) on piano, Andy Cleyndert bass and Clark Tracey drums.

I think everyone had fun, it was a good old style bebop jam with swing and interesting solos.

I again took a lunch break after that. Most of the weekends sessions lasted about 90 minutes, sometimes 2 hours, so for those not used to the festival format we all need to take a break away from the music at some times in the day, otherwise you get a kind of musical indigestion coupled with an ache in the backside! One is there for enjoyment not self punishment after all!

 A Young Bass Player!

First thing for me in the afternoon was a visit to Marquee 1 (yes, the Trad tent again) for the Old Hat Jazz Band. Young musicians playing (very well) old style music. A six piece band led by a lady percussionist (with a somewhat very Spartan drum kit) played music reminiscent of Jelly Roll Morton. Much of the material was written by themselves, and it was very encouraging to see that as they had a dep trombone player with them on the day, sheet music was given to him!! The program lists them as Michael Soper trumpet, Will Scott reeds, Graham Hughes trombone, Andrew Oliver piano, Louis Thomas bass and Lizy Excell on that drum kit and microphone! She formed the band in 2012 and they are all excellent musicians, very unlike me at their age as they are obviously not self taught!

Next into Marquee 2 for a very good session with two altos and a tenor! Alan Barnes, Greg Abate and Art Theman, with Craig Milverton (I may be wrong, I’ll check my photos, but he did play some of the sessions) on piano, Andy Cleyndert bass and Clark Tracey drums.

I think everyone had fun, it was a good old style bebop jam with swing and interesting solos.

I again took a lunch break after that. Most of the weekends sessions lasted about 90 minutes, sometimes 2 hours, so for those not used to the festival format we all need to take a break away from the music at some times in the day, otherwise you get a kind of musical indigestion coupled with an ache in the backside! One is there for enjoyment not self punishment after all!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

You will be relieved to read that DUE TO HOLIDAYS, this will be my last blog for the better part of 3 weeks. ALSO due to decorating and visitors, it will be SHORT!!

THIS WEEK (July 6th) we have as our guest that wonderful trumpet player Stuart Henderson. We hope that Clive and a semblance of our usual rhythm section will be on had to help him out!

NEXT WEEK (July 13th) we have that very nice saxophonist Mark Aston coming to play. He tells me that he now has a baritone sax in his arsenal and will bring it with him!

Very soon after I get back, we have a very special Thursday evening. On Thursday July 27th Vibraphonist Alan Grahame is celebrating "A Life in Music" with us all at Hedsor Jazz. He himself will have around 40 guests joining him, but he wants our regular quintet and our regular clientele to be part of the evening as well. Before I go on holiday, I will be printing 40 tickets for sale to Hedsor Jazz Friends. These will be £10 each and will be available in the weeks before on a Thursday night, or from Cookham's "Stationery Depot". 

It will be a very special evening indeed, so do ensure YOU get your tickets before the night. 

Whilst away I will be taking in what I am told is the last Swanage Jazz Festival. I hope to be able to share photos and comments about it when I return. Until then, or this Thursday,


Monday, June 26, 2017

Hedsor Jazz had a very enjoyable session last week with Frank Griffiths playing some wonderful music with our Hedsor Special rhythm section of Martin Hart, Ken McCarthy and John Monney, augmented again last week by guitarist John Coverdale. And as prophesied we did get some awful puns from Frank! The audience did start off a little on the thin side (numbers only, nothing personal!), and as Frank said, "we are now going to play "Tea for One", but, by mid session it had grown (just like in middle age!).

At the end of last weeks session we didn't have our guest musician arranged so it couldn't be announced, but I can now tell you that it will be saxophonist Kelvin Christiane (see this link for more info and some of his music) 

He was with us late last year, and it should be a really good session. 

We will have with us again Ken McCarthy on keyboard so do come along this Thursday and feast your ears on some lovely live music.

OK Glastonbury we ain't, but then, you can get very close to the musicians, and even get their autographs and you don't need a special pass to do it,

just £7!!

Clive may well be with us Thursday, however he is having his first new formula chemo today, so he may need the rest.

One piece of advance notice. On Thursday July 27th at Hedsor we are helping vibraphonist Alan Grahame celebrate his life in music, and we anticipate a very special gala evening. There will be a limit on the number of tickets to be sold for this gig as he is inviting many lifelong friends from the music business to join him and our Hedsor rhythm section to help him celebrate. So put July 27th in your diary now and when tickets are available (possibly by next week) make sure you buy yours asap!!

TTFN    Geoff C

Monday, June 19, 2017

Our sessions of past few weeks at Hedsor Jazz have been different from our normal sessions of the past 15 years.

We have always had guests, sometimes surprise guests, who have “sat in” on the night. For variety, we have always invited different musicians to join with our regular Clive Burton Quintet every now and again, but recently, due to Clive’s fight against Lymphatic cancer, our regular patterns have been disrupted in order to give Clive the time and space that he needs.

I personally think we have kept our music program at a very high standard and I hope we will be able to maintain that standard and that variety.

Last weeks session alone was worth our car park fee!! For your £7 entry Simon Spillett played some magnificent stuff. I for one, don’t take Simon coming to Hedsor for granted. He is a world class award winning player and a great friend to Hedsor Jazz. You will not get that kind of value, that quality and that consistency anywhere else and we Hedsor Jazz is STILL a regular weekly jazz venue.

There being a sort of law, often associated with clods of earth, that not only has Clive been less available, but our regular reed section has been unable to come during this same time period and indeed won’t be with us much again before September. But it has been Hedsor Jazz’s policy to always have at least a Quintet and it may be that this week we will again have the pleasure of guitarist John Coverdale  to help us in this aim.

As our main man this week we will have American saxophonist, now resident in the UK, Frank Griffiths. (He is also renowned as the teller of terrible jokes!). He is a great player though and well  well worth that £7 entry fee. He has also recorded recently with another of our previous guests, singer Tina May and he MAY (ouch, just practicing terrible jokes!) have a few of his CD’s with him, which I’m sure he will be able to pass into your hands for a small fee!

We have another change this week, and also for the next couple of weeks, in the form of Ken McCarthy. Ken was with us last week, and indeed often drops by to sit in. However our regular pianist, Nigel Fox, is taking a few weeks holiday to entertain his sister who is over from France and for the next three sessions at Hedsor Ken will be our pianist.

If all of these changes were not enough there is another change this week. The Red box will be run by ME!!

Do bear with us during our difficulties. DON’T take live jazz for granted, do please keep supporting it, not just at Hedsor. But if you want jazz to continue YOU must continue to be an audience, and SOMETIMES you might need to be asked to help with the chores as well.


Live stuff that took place long ago is still around to be listened to. In doing some research on the Lennie Best Quartet, who were regulars at The Bell in Maidenhead back in the 1970’s, I came across a link to some tremendous free to download recordings. Check the link below

So whether it’s the weather (too hot, too wet, too cold, or just British) keep listening and supporting our minority interest……JAZZ

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hedsor Jazz His Week

May NOT have the dramatic end result of a hung parliament. I know many of you did vote for Lester Brown and doing so you did have a great night out. Pity Mrs May wasn't with us this time! 

With two brass players in evidence I had to request "The St. James Infirmary Blues". They did well, Clive and Lester, but did not surpass my favourite version, that of Bruce Turner (the dirty bopper!) with Humphrey Lyttleton's band from the Conway Hall LP recorded on September 2nd 1954. This was such a favourite of mine that I wore out the first LP and purchased a second. I now have it on CD as well.
Even this CD is now 17 years old. Calliagraph CLGCD 038

I remember discussing with Humph some years after 1954 (at a Brecon Jazz Festival whilst he signed my copy of his latest LP with Buddy Tate) why he wasn't "now" using CD's. He said he wasn't sure if the technology would last. Well, it might not be the only music technology around, but it has lasted, and I for one am glad that much of H. Lyttletons output is now on CD.

The last 2 weeks of innovative jazz at Hedsor has had some of it recorded on my mobile phone. Yes really new technology! If you would like to hear some or all of the last 2 weeks music again I am making the recordings available via BlogSpot and mp3. They are in mono (well it was my mobile phone!), but will bring you much of the feel of those 2 nights. Sadly the Lester Brown session I only recorded the second set. Look for the links at the bottom of this blog page. I will leave them available for one month, so if you want the recordings get downloading now.

Now THIS week (Thursday June 15th) we have another treat. A man making a name for himself as an author, jazz reviewer, and most importantly of all as a jazz saxophonist. A great friend to Hedsor jazz Simon Spillett will be with us again. This one you will have to hear live because I wont be recording it (he has a contract!). So if you want to hear it you will have to be there, helping to keep live jazz alive.

No matter how good the great recordings of the past have been, or how often you can listen to them again and be transported back to, well 1954, NOTHING is as good as experiencing the music as it is created!

And for our entry fee of £7, which includes car parking and a raffle ticket too, that is a steal. We are TOO generous.

You COULD pay more!

The link to my DropBox recordings made at Hedsor is

Dont forget, this link is only available for 1 month.

Monday, June 05, 2017


As we all know a significant event is coming this Thursday. 
It's ANOTHER chance to VOTE, perhaps with your feet!! 

You will be accompanied to and from your booth of choice by 

The Clive Burton Quartet

The previous 15 years of the Clive Burton administration has been one of outstanding achievement. Hedsor Jazz's financial record is also one of outstanding generosity. 
Last week alone we donated £300 to Cancer Research UK. 

AND we have continued to bring great music and musicians to YOUR local musical amenity EVERY WEEK !!

We need you to vote this week and every week for 

This is not a party political communication. 
Its a PARTY communication! Come to OURS!!