Thursday, November 30, 2006

I have had some unpleasant news this morning, that I feel we ought to share with as many who know him.

Mike Wills, saxophonist with Century Jazz and The Clive Burton Quintet, had a heart attack last night whilst on a gig in Sheperton. He is now in intensive care in St Peters Hospital, Chertsey. I am told he is stable, although at one time last night his heart stopped.

I'm sure all of you will wish to keep him, and his partner Sam, in your thoughts. I will keep you informed of more news as soon as I have it myself. Please tell others who are not reachable by email.

Geoff Cronin

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Geoff’s Jazz Nag

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

With a reasonable number of jazz things to write about his week!

First the gigs:-

Tomorrow, at The Harrow, up the Hughenden Valley towards Speen, from 8.30 pm onwards that lovely lady singer Lynn Garner will be appearing with Ken McCarthy on piano and Brad Lang on bass. A bit of a reunion gig, as this was one of our regular local gigs until the new music licensing laws put a stop to our fun. Do come out and hear what we all miss, its free, friendly, with good beer and good food to boot.

Thursday, at The Hedsor Social Club The Clive Burton Quintet continue to bring us quality jazz at ridiculously low prices! 8.30. ‘till 11pm, £3 in, raffle out. You know you are going to kick yourself one day because you never came. And where did Simon Spillet choose to launch his new CD? Yep, Hedsor! More on the CD later.

I have been in contact with Al Nicholls this week. He has been telling me of another local gig. Every Wednesday at The King and Castle in Thames Street, Windsor, Al’s trio alternates with trombonist Jeff Williams trio. It’s another free gig, with a slightly odd start time. They play there from 6.30 pm ‘till 9.30 pm. If enough enthusiasts get along, it could become another permanent feature on the jazz calendar. One thing is to be sure, if you don’t go, even occasionally, the jazz there will not carry on!

On the subject of Al Nicholls, it should be noted that Blue Harlem are playing at Norden Farm on Friday March 16th 2007, so get that diary out. (£10.50 to get in, ring 01628 788997 for tickets).

Sunday, at Fifield, Century Jazz will be performing from 8 pm. Late lunches are available!

A further advanced date for your diary, I have been asked to organise a jazz fundraiser for Cancer Research UK at The British Legion Hall, Loudwater on February 10th. Book it now, more details will follow. BUT, it will be in the usual CafĂ© style, where you can bring your own picnic, but buy your drinks from the bar, and tickets will probably be £10 each. Were looking to sell 150 tickets, and I’m assured the raffle prizes will be wonderful!

Did I say “Simon Spillett” somewhere? Didn’t his gig with Clive go well last Thursday? I know those who were there will already have his new CD but I’m going to mention it anyway. Those of us who have been coming out to jazz at Hedsor and Fifield relatively frequently have rather got used too, and been spoilt by, the fairly frequent opportunities to hear Simon. We know how good he is, and we have seen him improve over the past few years. Make no mistake; he is an ascending jazz star. His new CD, on the Woodville Label (Alan Barnes’s own) has him with his usual trio backing him, and who could want for a better backing, John Critchinson on piano, Andrew Cleyndert bass, and Martin Drew on drums. Well recorded, I think this album does justice to the Simon we know, and should surely bring him additional fans. I really love his version of “Off The Wagon”, with good solos from John and Andrew as well as Simon of course, and the ballad “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” is another of my favourites from the album.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon on Cookham Summer FM this past summer, and I think that over the last few years he has gained in maturity and self assurance. Yes, sometimes his playing does sound like Tubby Hayes, whom he was able to talk about with great authority and with some wonderful musical illustrations on that broadcast occasion. But he is now his own man, and “Spring..” demonstrates that to the full. I well remember how we thought Scott Hamilton sounded like Ben Webster when he first arrived on the American jazz Scene (yes, I do still have his first CD, and yes, I did buy it from his own hands too!) but look what has happened to him!

By the way the broadcast interview has been heard by quite a few people now, and I have had a number of phone calls from musicians (saxophone players et al) telling me what a service the talk was to jazz!!

So, go out and buy that CD! Woodville WVCD116. Go and see him when he’s playing near you, and then you can tell your kids (OK grandchildren then), “I saw him play!”

Well, that’s enough for one week. The blog will have Simons CD cover artwork, or you can look at for more info on where to catch him in 2007.

But for now……(where have I heard that before),


Geoff Cronin

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Just a quick blog update, to remind you that TOMORROW NIGHT at The Hedsor Social Club, not only do we have as our Guest SIMON SPILLETT, but he will be launching there his new CD "Introducing Simon Spillett" released yesterday on the Woodville Label (WVCD 116).
This will be at a special price to all Hedsor Social Club-ites, of £10.00!
With him are John Critchinson, Andrew Cleyndert and Martin Drew, and Alan Barnes has written the sleeve notes.
So, what better time to turn out on a wet and windy winterish evening than Tomorrow at 8.30 pm. He will on this occasion be accompanied by The Clive Burton Quintet.
AND as a further piece of exercise for your diary, do add in for Saturday April 28th 2007; at the
Woodley Theatre, The Oakwood Centre, Woodley, Reading, Berks, Tel; 0118 969 0827 - a guest appearance by Simon with the Martin Hart Trio (8-10.30 pm).
Its a great little theatre, good tiered seating, with a bar and small cafe in the vestibule. So exercise the writing hand!!
See you all tomorrow, because you ARE remembering that its YOU who needs to keep live jazz alive!!
Geoff C

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Geoff’s Jazz Nag : Wednesday November 15th 2006

OK, so it’s a day late, but you are going to get a bit of a nagging today after all. I know you all thought you’d got away with it, but no, it’s here for you again, just to remind you of the good jazz things that are happening locally for you.


Thursday, at the Hedsor Social Club, Clive Burtons Quintet, (with or without Mr Burton sometimes) will play tuneful, swinging modern jazz. We need you as much as you need this event, so do come along and find out personally what a friendly and intimate setting for jazz this evening realises. Its only £3 to get in, we would like you to get an exit ticket (raffle) to get out with and it all starts at 8.30 pm. Club Bar prices. TV is never this good!

Saturday, 18th November at The Woodley Theatre, Martin Hart, Mike Wills, Ken McCarthy, Ian Scott Taylor and Alan Grahame recreate The Benny Goodman Quintet from 7.45 pm. Tickets are priced at £8.50 and at the time of writing this there were only 17 tickets left!! (I’ve got mine!). Ring 0118 969 0827 NOW!!

Thursday 23rd November at Hedsor we have Simon Spillett guesting, so do book your baby sitter early.

November 29th (a Wednesday) The Harrow reunion meeting for Lynn Garner, Ken McCarthy and Brad Lang takes place, so do take out a double booking for that sitter!!

Home Listening?

Yes, I have managed to fit in some this week!

First, a name almost from the past, Jay McShann. AND it’s a new album! Released in 2006, but OK, it was recorded in 2001! But yet again, it was a live club recording. Why is this so surprising I hear some of you ask? Well he is in his 90’s! It was his orchestra that first used 2 young boppers, Charley Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Yes that was in the 1940’s. He also had a great influence on Count Basie. Year in 2001 he was in Canada performing at the Montreal Bistro. Now many of jazz’s old performers who continue to perform are often well past their best. And obviously at 90, a piano player may not be able to finger the keys as well as he used to in his 20’s. But Jay can still play stride piano, and you wouldn’t know it was an older man playing. Its only when he sings that you realise that the voice has seen a lot of action! Alongside Jay is Canadian reedman Jim Galloway, and excellent tenor and soprano sax player, with Rosemary Galloway on bass and Don Vickery on drums. Altogether not a disappointment as a performance at all. As a bonus is a 20 minute interview with the main man, that is really a piece of history, and I think the album well worthy of your interest. It’s on a Canadian label, STONYPLAIN SPCD1315. You can read more at

As usual, if you want to see this nag in glorious Technicolor, go to

It’s no better written, but it does look pretty!

Ok, well for now, it’s Goodbye, but do try to get to a live gig near you soon. Jazz needs its audience, and its audience needs to keep jazz alive!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Geoff’s Jazz Nag Returns

After a break caused by some very unusual, and in some part, unpleasant circumstances, like General Macarthur, “I have returned”. If anyone has the odd day to spare, and is interested enough to want to know the details, do stop me, and buy (me) one, and I’ll tell you!

There would have been a nag last week, but my broadband connection died for 3 days!!

So to the grist of a Jazz nag!

TOMORROW, Tuesday 7th November, as an anniversary celebration of my national Service call up (I travelled to RAF Cardington to begin my 2 years on that day in 1960!!) at The Bourne End Community Centre Bar, Centre Jazz presents “Zane Cronje and Friends”. OK, so I’m a friend of said Zane, but rest assured, I won’t be playing, as I will be “resting” after a short sojourn in Wexham Park’s Lady Sobell unit. BUT, Lynn Garner will be singing, Brad Lang will be playing the bass and maybe singing and Terry Parsons will be playing the drums. I don’t know if he sings, I’ve not heard him. I have heard Zane sing, but don’t ask!! For all this talent all you need to do is turn up at 8.30 pm or before if you want a seat, and pay the man at the door £4. He will give you a raffle ticket, and you can sit and listen until half time, when they even give you a light supper. ALL this for the £4! Amazing. DO take more money than that with you, as there is an excellent bar at club prices, and Lynn has one or two CD’s to sell you.

After a period of recovery, on THURSDAY 9th November you can come out again to The Hedsor Social Club for Clive Burtons Quintet. 8.30 pm start, £3 to get in, £5 in raffle tickets to get you out, a bar at club prices, and some extraordinary great jazz. This year we have had some wonderful sessions at this venue, last weeks with Mike Wills and John Rolls being no exception. The ensemble of musicians are so able to pull out that magic that is jazz, the unexpected rapport of talented players, that you never know what will happen. Don’t miss out. “Nothing Stays The Same” remember!

SUNDAY jazz from Century Jazz at The Fifield Inn, totally free, but you can buy a raffle ticket to ensure you get out without disfigurement! 8 pm start, as some people have to go to work next day!

Into the future….

Saturday 18th of November, at the Woodley Theatre, near Reading, Martin Hart is responsible for an evening of “The Benny Goodman Story” staring Martin on drums and voice, Mike Wills reeds, Ken McCarthy piano, Ian Scott Taylor bass and Alan Grahame on vibes. A real recreation of the Benny Goodman Quartet will take you to there website. Tickets are £8.50. It starts at 8.45 pm.

On WEDNESDAY November 29th at 8.30 pm, Lynn Garner, Brad Lang and Ken McCarthy return to The Harrow, up the Hughenden Valley. Those of you who have been regular readers will remember that this used to be a regular weekly event, until spoilt by local authoritarianism. It’s a wonderfully intimate setting to hear, and get to know these extremely talented musicians. AND IT’S FREE. Totally, not even a raffle!!

CD’s I’ve Listened too.
A little light listening has taken place this week. Two items I think worth writing about.

ASV has released an album in their Living Era collection by Kid Ory from 1922 to 1944. The transfers, especially of the earlier recordings, are excellent, and the 1944 recordings are from the historically important Orson Wells Mercury Wonder Show Broadcasts that did so much to put traditional jazz back in front of the population. What struck me more about this release however, was the number of different groupings that Ory played with in 1926. King Oliver and His Dixie Syncopators, Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, The New Orleans Wanderers, The New Orleans Bootblacks, and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. All in the same year, and all with only very slight changes in personnel. For Louis Hot Five, and The NO Wanderers, you only need to swap the trumpet player (George Mitchell for Armstrong) the rest are the same. The Bootblacks and the Wanderers, add Joe Clarke on Alto Sax. In all of this, you only have to listen to hear what a pivotal roll Ory had in these great recordings. ASVCD AJA 5148 is the number; it was released in 1994, but should still be around.

The other album was released in 2004 and is by the relatively young tenor player from New York, Harry Allen. He played at the time of the recording at a regular Monday night session with a regular group at Zuni, an eatery in Manhattan. With him, not just in support, but in true rapport, is Joe Cohn on guitar, Joel Forbes on bass and Chuck Riggs on Drums. The recording is fine, the music is in that old mainstream tradition, but with some great contrapuntal “occasions“. It’s been released on the Arbors Jazz label, and my only gripe is the sleeve notes. I don’t think even I could write so many words that basically say “I think their great”. Yes, there are bits that give actual facts, but mostly it really says “Us Americans, especially those of us in New York, are wonderful”. If you like small group swing, with a “very nice” saxophone sound, you wont go far wrong in listening to “Hey, Look Me Over, The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet” on Arbours ARCD 19333. Its good music and a pity in my mind that the music was put second to the sleeve notes.

That’s it for now folks, cover art is on the blog page.

Geoff Cronin