Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hi Jazzlovers

What a wonderful evening those of us had who went to Cookham's Evening of Modern Jazz last Sunday. Those who attend Hedsor Jazz on a regular basis (they were much in evidence in the audience), already knew that an evening with Vasilis Xenopoulos was going to be jolly good fun(!), but it turned out to be absolutely marvellous. I know he shortens his name for publicity to Vasilis X, now we know it really does stand for eXcellence.

It was very rewarding that Cookham’s Pinder Hall was packed, especially as Vasilis’s name isn’t yet a household one, and Pinder Hall usually hosts the more Traditional Jazz of Cookham's fabulous Shirtlifters. But I think everyone there was amazed at the musical professionalism, musical joy, and shear fun of the event. The band were a highly trained team. The singer Michael L Roberts astounded everyone. (Marianne Stalk wanted him wrapped up for home delivery!). He had full control of his microphone for starters! His voice became another musical instrument, an instrument with a nice tone to it too. One of our table even said that his words (he had written many of the lyrics to go with Vasilis’s new tunes) “were like listening to Shakespeare”.

I know I haven’t mentioned everyone in the band individually, but they were all absolutely brilliant. Do try and read the other reviews on the web.

**If my blog site allows, I will insert two links. One for a different persons revue of the night, and one of Gerry Clark’s photos of the night.

One other thing I will say before moving on to my more usual nagging ways, is THANK YOU to the Cookham Festival Committee for there recognition of my part in organising the evening. Thanks for the wine, and also for the comments from Clive Burton that I was “a staunch supporter of the local jazz scene”, and “the Norman Grantz of Cookham”. I can only reiterate what I said on my 70th birthday, it has been a real privilege to work with the musicians over the last 20 years, and to get to know them as friends. Some of you know that in another life and on another planet I played the trumpet, but (as my wife will say) I was never a musician! And I am delighted to be the friend of many now.

The ONLY photo of Geoff playing to the public!

Now, as ever, to the future.

This Thursday at Hedsor, Clive is having an evening off. And in his place, to keep Mike Wills company at the front, we have John Coverdale on guitar. A great guitar player who always brings sensitivity to his two rolls with the band. Two? Yes, he is both soloist and a member of the rhythm section. In that rhythm section this week (as last) we have drummer Mike Jeffries. Martin Hart will be back for the Cancer Concert, but Mike Will be filling the drum chair until then. Zane will be back with us on keyboard (thank you Nigel Fox for last week’s piano playing). I think Ken Rankine will be abroad, so I anticipate John Monney on the bass. So almost the regular band then!! Well two of them anyway!

We are of course looking forward to the Cancer fundraising concert on May 14th at Hedsor. We have a super cast list. We now need a super audience as well. The tickets are £10 each, and will include food, but we are going to run the raffle for an additional cost. I have artwork for a poster, so if you can find a place to put one up please email me and I will send you a PDF file for you to print.

That will do for now. If I get time this week I will talk about some CD’s. I know we get to see some superb musicians locally, but its nice to take Dianna Krall home with you isn’t it!

** The blog site has blocked the hyperlinks to the web sites, but do search for the Cookham Festival website, and look for the review of the night, and Gerry Clark's photos.


Geoff C

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's a sunny Monday. And to add to your feelings of joy, I have attached a jpeg file of the poster art for the next Cancer Research Concert.
I'm sure you will be as excited as I am.
Because it contains a list of the guests we have coming to our Cancer Research Fund Raising Concert on May 14th.

And just in case its that kind of Monday, I will list below those guest musicians who have signed up to our concert.

In reverse order to the poster!!

BBC Rising Star, saxophonist Simon Spillett
Trumpeter Stuart Henderson
Guitarist John Coverdale
Chanteuse Liz Cooper

So, as the song says get your tickets at the station on the (Cookham) line! Well, the Cookham Stationary Depot anyway!

On the subject of tickets, if you do want to come and see the Vasilis Xenopoulos Band at Pinder Hall on Sunday Evening, (Part of The Cookham Festival) do get your tickets very soon, we cannot guarantee to have any left at the door (there may be a few), so ensure you have yours by going to the Stationary Depot before the close of shopping on Saturday!

This Thursday at Hedsor we will have almost the regular band. The drum chair will be occupied by Mike Jeffries in place of Martin Hart, and it will be so for the next 3 weeks.

That's it for now folk, not bad for a Monday Eh?

Geoff C

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I can now divulge (not a word I use too often!), the exact lineup for the

Cookham Festival Jazz Gig.

Vasilis Xenopoulos Tenor Sax, Leader
Michael L Roberts Vocals
Nigel Price Guitar
Sam Gambarini Hammond Organ
Chris Nickolls Drums

This should encourage any knowledgeable jazz fan to turn out on April 26th, and go to Pinder Hall for 8pm.
He will, of course, need a ticket, price £8. He can get that from The Stationary Depot, Station Parade, Cookham, 01628 531178
If said fan wishes to remain friends with other fans NOT on my mailing list, he should drag them along. OK the screaming will be unpleasant Until they hear the music.
I was at the 2008 Ealing Jazz festival and heard all bar the singer. They only attracted a few thousand people to listen to them, but it was the best gig of the day.
How is it that one of my friends (coming all the way from Suffolk for the gig) can say "must have been a coup to pull him in to the festival", and I still have tickets to sell?
I can tell you how, he has heard Vasilis before!!

Check google and it will lead you to more information about some of the musicians. It is really exciting to have them coming to the Cookham Festival Jazz Event. Take a look at their CV's!!

Unfortunalty this blog software is playing up today and wont let me leave you the hyperlinks, but the guys are well represented on the web. Do have a look, and in some cases a listen too.

Geoff C

Friday, April 10, 2009

It’s a rainy afternoon, and Easter to boot, so, I thought it might be a suitable opportunity to blog!!

First, I’d like to look back at one of last weeks gigs. I think it was one that didn’t get the consideration of a large audience. Although not a poor one, many of the fans that I know would have enjoyed the music were obviously doing something else.

The event was one of Mo’s monthly Jazz at Bourne End Community Centre Tuesdays. The band was under the (loose) control of Zane Cronje on keyboard. Now, many of us see him on a weekly basis at Hedsor as part of the Clive Burton Quintet, and I suppose we can easily take him for granted. That could be a mistake!

With him on the front line was John Coverdale on guitar. John is rapidly becoming one of my favourite guitarists. He played for my 70th birthday last year, and has been to Hedsor a number of times since. He always plays immaculate solos, and is also always sensitive with his in-fills when others have the spotlight. Last Tuesday Zane and John played the most wonderful set of chorded jazz I have heard in many years. They swapped choruses, and split choruses with a really wonderful affinity. It really was chamber jazz at its very best.

The evening was enhanced by singer Liz Cooper, who was equally “chamber” in her approach. She didn’t beat you about the ears, or stridently intrude into your own musings, but graced the evening with sung words. All of this was most ably supported by Terry Parsons on (skeletal) drums, and with dexterous bass playing by Steve Riddell, who has recently returned from 6 months on the QE2 (both in motion and now dry docked).

I’m sorry if you missed it. It was jazz, and like all great jazz, a work of the moment. Well done to all.

Whilste still looking back, another evening of song this week came last night at Hedsor, with Harriet Coleman taking centre microphone. Harri sang a number of songs, often familiar, and always having great melody. And just as John Coverdale seemed to bring out the best in Zane, so Harri brought out the best in Clive Burtons trombone playing (if not the jokes!). He accompanied Harri with great skill. A trombone can so easily drown a singer, but Clive got it just right. A very pleasant evening, again with slightly fewer in the audience than the music deserved.

Having briefly looked in the rear view mirror, we must now turn to look ahead.

Next Thursday at Hedsor, we have a return to the regular Clive Burton Quintet, with Mike Wills bringing his reed section. I have often mentioned the wonderful harmonies that their arrangements bring us. I now realise that some of those are down to Zane collaborating with Mike on the arrangements. Don’t stop.
Coming to Pinder Hall very soon as part of The Cookham Festival is the Jazz Evening with Vasilis Xenopoulos and his Quintet. This is on Sunday 26th April at 8pm. Tickets are £8 each, and the style of the gathering is a picnic meal. Bring your own, and sit around tables, café style. A full bar will be available for the liquid part of your refreshment.

Vasilis deserves to have Pinder Hall full to overflowing. He is a young (29) jazz star in the ascendancy. Playing mainly tenor sax (a soprano has been observed as well), he plays very accessible “modern” jazz. No, not squeaks and bumps, but tuneful, swinging and very exciting music. He is bringing with him the musicians that he had with him last year at the Ealing Jazz festival, minus the trombone player, but plus a male singer. That means (if I’ve got it right), a guitar, a Hammond organ, and a drummer. If you are there on the evening or not, it WILL be a great night, but it will be better if you are there. I promise you, you will enjoy his music!

Saxophonist Vasilis Xenopoulos

Drummer, Chris Nicholls

On May 14th we are running another in our Jazz for Cancer evenings. Hedsor Social Club is the venue, with again Café style seating in the large room. Yes, it’s a Thursday, but the evening will start at 8 pm, and go on to around 11.30 pm. There WILL be food there as part of the ticket price (£10), and there will be an infamous raffle. ALL profit from this event goes to Cancer Research UK. Since we started running these concerts, so many more of our friends have been affected by Cancer, that we will make every effort to make it a memorable evening worthy of your money. So far star guest lined up include Stuart Henderson, and John Coverdale.

Well, that’s it for this time. If it rains much more, I will just have to nag on about CD’s I’ve listened to, but for now, enjoy the photos of 2 of the musicians soon to be at Pinder Hall.

Have a great Easter.