Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas is nearly upon us, but I wanted to thank all of you who made last nights Hedsor Jazz Christmas Concert such a success.

First, ALL of the musicians. What a wonderful array of first class talent, from our own regular rhythm section, through each of our special guests. And wasn’t it nice to have Clive back with us again. His organisation of the guest musicians was very tasteful, and gave everyone a good opportunity to deliver of their best, which they all dully did. So just a reminder of who they all were:

On the stage, Mike Jeffries Latin percussion, Martin Hart drums, Ken Rankine bass, Nigel Fox keyboard.

Next row:

Nigel Price on guitar, Alan Graham on vibraphone.

And on the front row, sometimes all at the same time:

Clive Burton trombone, Stuart Henderson trumpet, “Tolly” tenor sax, Willie Garnet tenor sax.

And not forgetting the interval pianist, John Slater, or that lovely singing from Ingrid.

Then we must thank all who provided that wonderful buffet.

And thank you too to all who donated raffle prizes for the traditional Hedsor Jazz Raffle!

And finally a thank you to all of you who were in the audience. I hope you enjoyed it every bit as much as I did.

Thank you all for making the evening such a special one.

 Alan Graham on vibes and Nigel Fox on keyboard
 Clive Burton duetting with John Slater
 A wistful (and blurred) John Slater
 Nigel Price
Almost the entire ensemble, 
Clive's trombone, Stuart Henderson, "Tolly", Willie Garnet and Alan Graham, 
with Ken Rankine and a partly visible Martin Hart

To all of you, Happy Christmas, and we will look forward to seeing you in the New Year in the bar at The Hedsor Social Club. Don’t forget we meet every Thursday from January 5th onwards. We will try to keep 2012 Thursdays as a haven for all jazz lovers.

Geoff C

Monday, December 19, 2011


Just so that I have time to wrap my Christmas gifts, I thought I would write up my Christmas Blog today, Monday!!

It is composed in 3 parts!

First. To all of you who read this, and have yet to receive a Seasonal Card from me, I would like to take this opportunity of wishing you all a Very Happy Christmas. I also hope that we can all have a successful New Year too. Perhaps the EURO countries will gain sanity, and not lead the world into trauma in 2012. We can but hope.

Second. Our Party Plans for December 22nd are complete. We have some superb guests coming. I dare not mention too many names, but Stuart Henderson and “Tolly” are coming. We also have Alan Graham on vibes and Willy Garnet on tenor sax. Clive has also promised to be with us. Michael Weinblatt will be running the RAFFLE, and in the second half of the evening we have every expectation of guitarist Nigel Price joining us after a strenuous day in the recording studio. We start at 8 pm don’t forget, and there are no seat reservations!! We are going to run the raffle early in order to have at least a full hour of Jazz after our buffet supper, so don’t leave it too late before coming!

Third. I did promise to at least mention a couple of CD’s you might like for Christmas.

One you may well be able to buy on the night and comes from Nigel Price. His Organ Trio Live!
In 2009 at Cookham we heard Nigel with a Hammond Organ player in The Vasilis Xtet. A memorable night. The advantage of a Hammond Organ is that it can fulfil the needs of a bass player as well as a keyboard player. And the sound can also have an amazing “swell” to it. Well, Nigel’s trio doesn’t have the same player, this time it has Pete Whittaker, but he does have another player with him who graced this years Cookham Festival stage in the shape of drummer, Matt Home. The CD has been recorded, as the cover tells you, “Live” ( I know actors can corpse, but I don’t know how you can record dead musicians!), in three different locations. The sound quality is excellent, and the playing throughout superb. Three musicians, but a very full sound. Matt on drums pushes all along with that effortlessness that means he has made many efforts before, it all swings wonderfully well. Nigel is a great Wes Montgomery style player, and can also drive all along with him. Pete makes the sound of the three totally homogenous, blending, standing to one side, commenting, also soloing when the need arises as can the other two. Its well worth considering for self imposed spending and is out on the JAZZIZITRECORDS label JITCD0953 AND is available via Amazon!

The other CD is by someone I have never heard “live” at all, only on CD. But for Christmas I thought it very appropriate. After all, Christmas is for the (small) child in all of us.

The Dominic Alldis Trio are Dominic on piano, Stephen Keogh drums and Mark Hodgson drums. Dominic has been recorded as a self accompanying singer before now, but on this album he just plays a Steinway Concert Grand piano, (and it sounds superb too). He is playing a range of tunes that we all must have heard as children. Tunes like “Rock a Bye Baby”, “Three Blind Mice”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and 7 others. He makes them live again as real tunes, improvising, enhancing and perhaps illuminating for us these well know titles. “Songs We Heard” is available on Canzona Music CANZ CD6

Well, that’s it for now, do have a very merry Christmas.

Geoff C

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Max Brittain

This Week

Just to let you know that This Thursday, December 15th and the last one before our Big Room Party, we have guitarist Max Brittain as our special guest. Clive Burton is still unable to play due to his broken collarbone, and Mike Wills is house moving, so it could be that we have a very guitar led session this Thursday. As Max is one of the most experienced guitar players in the country, I’m certain that this will be no hardship at all! If you are in any doubt about that, check out his web site at

Stuart Henderson and "Tolly"

Our Party Plans for the 22nd are well under way. We have “definites” in trumpeter Stuart Henderson and his Ukrainian tenor sax-playing colleague “Tolly”. We have a strong “maybe” from guitarist Nigel Price, and we still have a few other musicians up our sleeves. With a light buffet on offer, the £10 ticket price is a steal. The evening kicks off at 8 pm, as all our “big room” events do, so come out, brave the weather, and enjoy some of the best live jazz around.

I will try very hard to let you have a review or two of CD's listened to recently later in the week, but in the meantime do your best to help keep live jazz alive!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

John Coverdale at Hedsor in 2009

Thursdays Guest

A VERY sad Clive has just rung to say that our guest tomorrow is that wonderful guitarist John Coverdale.

John has been to Hedsor many times before, and it will be a great pleasure to have him back with us again.

Clive has been told to keep his arm in a sling, and to "persevere" with it, even though it hurts more in the sling than out of it!! Such is life!!


Clive Burton at Last Years Christmas Party,
with saxophonist Tracey Mendham

Good Morning Jazz Lovers

News of Clive Burton

As we all know, Clive managed to fall down the stairs 10 days ago, and he hurt himself quite badly. He was told that it was “just” bad bruising. However yesterday he went to Hospital again for a further check, and after a series of X-rays that told him he had broken his collarbone. He is due back to hospital today to visit the fractures clinic for more information about this.

The break means that he cannot drive, or play his trombone, for some time, to enable his collarbone to mend. Currently, his arm is in a sling and he is very disappointed at this prospect.

As of the moment (i.e right now!) we don’t know who will be with Mike Wills at Hedsor this Thursday, but as soon as another guest is announced, I will let you all know.

Hedsor Jazz Christmas Party

Looking to the future, some good news. Our Christmas Party on December 22nd will now have at least 2, possibly 3 guests. Those of you who were at last weeks tremendous Hedsor Session will value a reappearance of Stuart Henderson on trumpet, and “Tolly” on tenor sax. We may also have with us for some of the evening that wonderful guitarist Nigel Price. He has expressed interest and has at least asked for directions on how to get to The Hedsor Social Club! He is on day 2 of a recording session in West London, and if he can make the evening, he will. For those of you regular readers who have NEVER BEEN to Hedsor Social Club, it’s post code is SL8 5ES

Recording For Sale

For those of you who were at last week’s session of “The Hedsor Pick Up Band” I have got it on CD now. If you could express your interest in a copy (a double album in a card sleeve) let me know. I will make a £5 charge, but any money will be donated to Cancer Research UK. I have 3 available at the moment, but will produce more to order.

Geoff C

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Hedsor Jazz Pickup Band

Stuart Henderson
The Pickup Band


I’m just glad I had my old mini disk recorder with me last night, because the magic that is JAZZ, just happened last night.

Sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the individual components, and last night it was about double.

Congratulations are due to the band members. They all reached beyond themselves to play to a pretty full Hedsor Bar, and were rewarded at the end of the evening with a standing ovation. One of our frequent visitors said to me excitedly as he left, “I have been coming many years, but that was the best jazz I have ever heard. I’m not kidding, I mean it”.

No more for me to add at this point. Those who visited Hedsor last night all knew it was something very special. Jazz synergy.

Just to repeat, the individual parts were, Stuart Henderson trumpet, “Tolly” tenor sax, Nigel Fox keyboard, Steve Picking bass, Mike Jeffries drums. The synergy was HEDSOR JAZZ.

Some of them are coming to our Christmas Party on December 22nd. Will you be there?


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Stuart Henderson

The Hedsor Pick Up Band

Just to confirm that tonight at Hedsor Jazz we have the following lineup:-

Stuart Henderson trumpet and flugle horn, “Tolly” tenor saxophone, Nigel Fox keyboard, Steve Pickins bass and Mike Jeffries drums!

“Tolly is of Eastern European origins, and I wouldn't be able to spell his name even if I knew what it was. But he has been to Hedsor before, and he is a super player, so tonight should be well worth turning out for.

I have spoken with Clive, and he recons to have recovered from his fall by about 5%. I think that means he is still very uncomfortable. To all who asked about the damage to the wall at the bottom of the stairs, he has said that when he is better, he will get his own back!! I think he meant on you, not the wall.

Usual start time of 8.30pm, usual entry charge £5, usual exit charges apply!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hedsor Jazz

First, news of Clive. Those who were at Hedsor last week will have heard that he had had a fall. I spoke with him on the phone yesterday, and he has actually fallen down stairs, hitting the wall at the bottom, and he is very uncomfortable in a lot of very bruised places including bed! I’m sure everyone wishes him a very speedy recovery.

In the meantime, this Thursday we have a definite from Stuart Henderson on trumpet and flugel horn, and we are hoping to get his saxophonist companion “Tolly” to come and keep him company. Mike Wills is moving house! The rhythm section is slightly modified as well, Steve pickings will be on bass and Mike Jeffreys on drums. Nigel Fox is on keyboard I think!

Looking back on last Thursdays modified band, I thought it all worked out rather well. With Simon Spillett leading from the front on tenor sax it was always going to be good. Our regular saxophonist Mike Wills and our regular keyboard man Nigel Fox played as well as ever. Peter Hughes on bass in place of Ken Rankine meant that the bass section was still top rate, but our advertised drummer who was depping for Martin Hart (on holiday), was replaced by another dep. All the way from Fleet in Hampshire we had a first visit from John Nettle who did a very fine job and still made the 30 mile drive home! Well done everyone.

Hedsor Jazz Christmas Party

We are now in a position to sell you tickets for our Christmas Party, in the big room at Hedsor. These will cost you £10 a head, and we are hoping to gather a stellar cast to perform for you. Without doubt, with a buffet included, it will be a great night of preparation (if you need any) for the Christmas festivities. Tickets from Hedsor on Thursdays, or from Cookham's Stationery Depot tel: 01628 531178

Listened to This Week

Mention of Christmas brings me to one of the CD’s I’ve listened to this week. I have always enjoyed Stan Tracey’s music for “Under Milk Wood” that he recorded in the late 1960’s, and it became even more enjoyable when he started performing it live with the Dylan Thomas words added in by an actor. Now he has just released another Dylan Thomas inspired work, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. It is completely magical, and blew me away. With Stan on piano, he has Simon Allen (who came up through The Berkshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, now known as Pendulum) on tenor sax, Andy Cleyndert on bass, Clark Tracey on drums, and the poem is narrated by Stan’s grandson Ben Tracey. It is wonderful and magical and another masterpiece for sure. It can be obtained from Resteamed Records RSJ 111

I have had great fun recently resurrecting some of my old LP’s. Having digitised the “Just Jazz” concert from 1947, commenting on the way about how well they could all swing, even at very slow tempo’s, I turned my attention to an LP of the First Esquire Concert, performed in New York’s Metropolitan Opera House in January 1944. It’s a very scruffy recording, but with a couple of real high spots.

We have on two tracks, Billy Holiday. On both Ellington’s “Do Nothing ‘Till You Hear From Me” and on her own “Billie’s Blues” I was again captivated by her. A legend, yes. We all know how good she was, but I wonder how often now we actually listen to her recordings. When I do, even after a period of months, I am amazed by the emotion, pain even, in her voice. “Billie’s Blues is straight from her inner soul.

The lineup around her is also astonishing to us now, but Roy Elderidge, Jack Teagarden, Barney Bigard, Coleman Hawkins, Art Tatum, Al Casey, Oscar Pettiford and Sid Catlett are the band, and Louis Armstrong is a guest. I only have volume one, an LP issued in 1974. Hi Fi it aint, but JAZZ it is.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Week at Hedsor Jazz

We need you!!

For the second week running, this week we have the full Clive Burton Quintet. Sharp tunes, swinging music with great solos. I’m sure for our second week running it will be just like last week. Melodic fun.

What I hope wont be like last week is the audience! Not enough of you turned out to welcome “back” our trombone blowing leader from his bed of back pain. This week, he will be fitter than ever, so come and find out. Please!!

Music Listened to this Week

Following on from my theme of Swinging 40’s and 50’s music from the “Just Jazz” stable I have something old, and something new (er). Having just written that down, it has also reminded me that once there was an LP released by the De Paris Brothers New New Orleans Band entitled “Something Old, New Gay , Blue”. They had no idea what the word “gay” was going to come to represent, they just meant it was “tres jollie”.

Old, in as much as it comes from the 1950’s is a super reissue on the Avid label of 3 LP albums headed up by Lionel Hampton. Lionel came to fame with the Benny Goodman Quintet of the late 1930’s, and in 1955 a film was made called “The Benny Goodman Story”, and much of the earlier recorded work was re created for the film. To free themselves form the constraints of film recordings, Lionel got together with Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson in another studio to make an LP of their own. They added in bassist Red Callender and remade some of the earlier hits, this time without Mr. Goodman! So, on the first part of this new Avid double CD reissue we have “Avalon, I Got Rhythm”, “Moonglow”, “Just You, Just Me”, (still very popular, obviously, in the Just Jazz concert recordings I wrote of last week it was represented 4 times) and “Airmail Special” from the past. They are very good quality mono recordings. The double album goes on to give you the “Lionel Hampton and His Giants” LP and the “Apollo Hall Concert from 1954” LP.

You will find on this Avid reissue (AVID AMSC993) many of the players who were in the 1940’s “Just Jazz” line-ups, including Harry Edison, Art Tatum, Barney Kessel and Buddy Rich. It’s all great swinging music. That’s swing, not frantic!

Following on from this new issue comes a newer recording but older issue CD!! “The Benny Goodman Quartet Together Again” was recorded in stereo in 1963. It has the same line up as the 1955 Lionel Hampton recording mentioned above, but this time WITH Benny Goodman. I have had this since the dawn of CD’s, and it is really excellent. Beautifully recorded in the days when they were trying very hard to “sell” Hi Fi, it has some of the classic BG Quartet tunes that were originally recorded in the 30’s including my favourite “Seven Come Eleven”, but also “Runnin’ Wild”, “I’ve Found A New Baby” and 7 other great tracks as well. If you need to be introduced to the Benny Goodman Quartet, go and find this CD. I have it on the Bluebird label (an RCA derivative) number ND86283.

One final bit of sadness this week. We have had the news of the death of Michael Garrick. He died last Friday.

There is so much of his work to remember him for, but those of us who heard him at Swanage this year, or at The Wooburn Festival very recently will be saddened that he couldn’t further our remembrance of the MJQ, something he was in the process of bringing to us.

He was 78 years old, still working to almost the last, and had just had a heart operation.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jazz at Hedsor

Thursday night we have the genuine Clive Burton Quintet, complete with a recovered Clive Burton. He is healed enough from his back injury to play, but not, perhaps, to put his whole back into it!! Our regular saxophone section will also be with us, so look forward to some of the close harmony and special head arrangements that come out when the two of them get together.

Recorded Music

Thinking of head arrangement usually leads one to think of pre organised jazz orchestration, well, at least to top and tail a well-known tune that is then played “off the cuff”. That was something lacking on one of the phenomena that was the original modern jazz jam session. Back in the late 40’s and early 50’s Gene Norman organised a number of jazz concerts in California under the banner “Just Jazz”. They were real, old fashioned Jam Sessions, with almost no pre arrangement of the musicians (apart from booking who was in town at the time), which becomes very apparent on some of the recordings when it came to ending a tune!

Over the years, some of these early concert recordings were released, most famously the Lionel Hampton led band playing “Stardust”, which came out on both sides of a 45. Recently, I have re mounted my Lynn turntable and have dug out a few LP’s to play, one of which is a 3 LP set of “Just Jazz” concerts all from 1947/8.

Part of the artwork for the 3 LP set

It is really interesting to hear some of the jazz greats performing without the limitations imposed by a regular band, or by a studio a recording, which usually only allowed 3 to 5 minutes per tune. LP’s themselves were only released in the USA in 1948 and did not come on to the British scene until 1949. The extended playing time of 25 minutes a side for a 12” LP (usually initially reserved for “Classical” music) did away with these limitations for tune length, and we became used to the extended solo on a recording we could buy and take home that was the norm for a live performance heard in concert.

Back in the 1980’s I bought “Gene Norman’s Just Jazz Concerts”, a 3 LP set. I paid a bargain £4.69! The cast list for Gene’s concerts was drool worthy. He could sell out the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (2978 seats) in 1947 at $2 each! Who did they hear? Vic Dickenson, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet, Dodo Marmarosa, Howard McGhee, Sonny Criss, Wardell Gray, Errol Garner, and many more. And they were all on the same night, April 29th 1947. Wow.

OK, the sound in the hall probably wasn’t great, and it isn’t great on the recordings either, but it is a real treat to hear some of these guys playing on there day off for a little extra pin money. Real Jazz, dare I say, just like the sort we often hear at Hedsor.

I don’t think the LP’s (vogue VJT 3003) are still available new, but last week one was available on ebay for about £17.

I couldn’t see any reference on the web to the music being reissued at any time onto CD. What a Pity!

Why not catch a Thursday Night session at Hedsor for £5 instead?


Monday, October 31, 2011


Clive Burton, Simon Spillett, and the band

John Coverdale

Simon Spillett and Tracey Mendham

Well, wasn’t it a great night? A HUGE thank you to all who came to play, all who came to help on the night, all who provided food, and finally all of you, who came out in order to help keep live jazz alive at Hedsor Jazz.

As a musical experience it was fabulous. One of our audience emailed me later:-

“Music was great (thought SimonS and JohnC's rendition of "A Nightingale sang..." was worth the price of admission alone) and what great entertainment from the front 'persons' - we certainly went home with a smile on our face!”

And they were not alone in the “smile” stakes. It was first class entertainment all round. I think the biggest thank you of all must go, as Simon Spillett said on the night, to Clive Burton. His links and humour, his playing and organisation of the players and their sets, was first class. He has been that front man for over 10 years now, so we are greatly in his debt for helping to keep it all going through the thick and thin.

There were many there at Hedsor last Thursday who had not been before, at least one jazz fan who actually lives in The Hedsor Road had not been before, and she has promised to come again.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could attract that same number of people on a weekly basis. Think of the guests we could invite to play for us then. Just as a thinking point. Do you think that the reason people tend not to come to the small room is because it is “small”, and not as comfortable as the big room? Do email me with your thoughts on this.

One final point, yes, we did succeed in raising more money than we spent on organising the event, and we have replaced in Jazz Angels coffers some of the money that we need to keep Hedsor Jazz alive. Most weeks we don’t take enough in the small room to pay for each weeks event, and most weeks it is subsidised by the Jazz Angels.

Don’t forget that there are other live jazz events for you to keep supporting, Tuesday at The Bourne End Community Centre we have Al Nicholls as I mentioned in the last blog.

We return to our normal location and band this coming Thursday at Hedsor. I hope to see you there.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I know you all know, but just to really NAG you, tomorrow is our very special Gala night for jazz in this part of the world (South Bucks). In order to raise funds for Hedsor Jazz, we are putting on a VERY special night, tomorrow from 8 pm (note the earlier start time). We have performing with the Clive Burton Quintet:- (ladies first)
Tracey Mendham on tenor sax and personality!
Simon Spillett on Best Tenor Sax in the UK (performed with tie)!
Stuart Henderson on Trumpet. Yet to win an award, but I have yet to hear a better trumpet man.
Andy Dickens on Trumpet and vocals, possibly jokes as well.
Can I request “I Cant Get Started” now please, it was a hit at Swanage this year.
John Coverdale on guitar. A quiet man, but hear and watch how he plays!

I’m sure more musicians will come out of the woodwork just to be part of the night. I hope you come out too. It’s only £10 a head, including a light buffet (OK it may be a packet of crisps!) AND a chance to win one of our infamous raffle prizes!

Support live jazz at Hedsor!!

BUT do save some energy for next Tuesday, because at Bourne End Community Centre they have Al Nicholls who emailed me to say:-

“it may be of interest to you and the good folks at Hedsor (?), that I am playing at Mo's club at the Bourne End Community Centre on the 1st November with Bob Haddrell piano, Nils Solsberg guitar and the indefatigueable Rex Bennett on drums. It would be nice to see some friendly faces there.”

Can I stand the pace? But you can!!



PS. If you really cant make either of those two events (flu, child birth, world financial crisis, are only excuses you know!), you could order on line "Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton Play The Blues". It is Preposterously good!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Those of you who have looked at this mornings posting, and were expecting to see a bit of video, well, so was I !! Google Blog hasn't managed to complete the task yet!! I will have another go later, in the meantime, here is a photo of Julie Lewis, also taken on Sunday afternoon at The Star in Weymouth.
The Return from Weymouth

I am now anxious to get you to buy as many tickets for the Ocoberfest jazz concert, now rushing towards us on October 27th. We need you as much as you need us, but to help you make up your minds, the cast list of guests is growing.

So far, as well as our regular guys (all thanks to Allbran!), those committed to the task are:-

Tracey Mendham, saxophone, song, dance and personality, Simon Spillett, saxophone, tie and personality , Stuart Henderson, trumpet (not heard him sing yet!), Andy Dickens, trumpet, and song (yes he does!), John Coverdale, guitar (not heard him sing yet either), and more yet to come.

We need YOU, to come and sing and applaud, and pay your £10 entry. All the profit from this super evening of live jazz will be going into Jazz Angels coffers to ensure we can keep live jazz alive locally, especially at The Hedsor Social Club (we can all sing that!).

Tell your friends, kidnap them if needs must (they do!), and ensure that the big room at Hedsor is full.

For those dedicated to the Hedsor Jazz cause, this week we have another of our fantastic combinations of talent in the Hedsor Club Bar. Our regular rhythm section will be behind (in every sense), Simon Spillett and Mike Wills. If saxophone summit wasn't the name of a band, we could call this Thursday “Saxophone Summit”, or even “Two Tenors for a Fiver” ‘cause it will only cost you £5 to get in, slightly more to get out of course.

Just one more item. Whilst in Weymouth I visited again the pub I wrote about last week. This time I took my camera, and attached to this issue is a video of the super lady pianist who was at the keyboard there in "The Star" last Sunday. You will recognise the bass player, but the lady at the piano is Julie Lewis.



Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Just to update my bit about jazz in Weymouth, this is a photo, not avalable to me yesterday, of the Saxophonist who sat in, with Doug Cooper, the drummer, and singer Tanya Lonergan.

Dont forget Hedsor Tomorrow, someone has got to take my place at least!


Portland's east cliff yesterday, looking towards Lulworth Cove.

Geoff, on holiday.

Yesterday amazingly sunny, today wet! You can only win some of the time!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Yesterday, The Front was Lulworth Cove.

A Message from the Front

Well, sea front really. Although as I type, I am only just within site of the sea.

BUT, still able to cajole you all about JAZZ.

This week, at The Hedsor Social Club, we have our regular front line of Clive and Mike, with a variegated rhythm section. I don’t know who they are! I am aware that Ken Rankine and Nigel Fox will be absent without leave, but who is in their place You will have to go to find out.

As you may be aware from my opening sentence, I am away at the moment. Not in a heartland of jazz (although I did visit Swanage yesterday, which seemed very strange, with the sun beating down, and NO marquees one and two on the grassy banks).

But the area is not without jazz. On Sunday afternoon I visited a pub in Weymouth called The Star. It is a bit to one side, in a backstreet near a car park, but from 3.30pm on Sundays it is transformed into a jazz venue. And what was on offer was of surprising quality.

It is not every backstreet pub that can boast a drummer who spent 3 weeks in Chicago with the Count Basie Orchestra, but this was one. On drums, Mr. Dougie Cooper ! He wasn’t the band leader, and “the band” was a fluctuating ensemble. The event (a regular one over the last few weeks) is organised by a once married couple, bass guitarist Chris Lonergan and his ex, singer Tanya Lonergan. The keyboard player Mark ? alternates with another yet to be heard.

It was a great coming together of people who know the music, but who don’t regularly play as a band. Proficient sitters in are encouraged, and last Sunday we had a male singer called Geoff (no not me, even when drunk I don’t sing!) who was excellent. Obviously a man of experience, with 50 years of marriage behind him! He was of well above average standard, and obviously a great professional.

A man also of some vintage, sat in for a few numbers on tenor saxophone and flute. Again, someone who had great experience, and of “Hedsor” quality.

Also sitting in for a couple of bluesy numbers was a guitarist, more used to a blues band than jazz, but non the less adding a different ingredient into the mix.

The whole event is held together by Tanya, singing, linking the tunes and the musicians, dancing, encouraging, and sounding terrific. Her repertoire was song book and I thought that if you put her together with Tracey Mendham, you would have great explosions.

I’m staying on a day longer than I anticipated, just to see them all again next Sunday afternoon.

They were good, and the experience showed through. How is it that for jazz musicians, such talent has to play where it can in today’s society? Well done to the landlord of The Star for funding it. No fee was asked of us at the door. If the trend in our culture is to ignore jazz as a musical art form, I can see such venues in the future being a bit like priests holes!

Talking of The Future, our mammoth cast list for our fundraising special concert at Hedsor on October 27th is growing fast. In no order of importance, (only of booking!) we have Tracey Mendham, saxophone and personality! Stuart Henderson, trumpet, Simon Spillett tenor sax, John Coverdale guitar, and signed up only last week, trumpeter Andy Dickens.

So there are some really star names to make you book your tickets. They are still only £10 each, and you can get them from Dee on Thursdays, or from Cookham’s Stationery Depot.

Well, that’s it for now folks, TTFN


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Max Britain on the left, alongside tonight's guest John Coverdale
at Hedsor earlier in the year

A quick message from the front today. Due to a much better paid gig being available to Max Britain tonight, our guest musician this evening will be another talented guitarist, John Coverdale. See you all there.

Geoff C

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tonight our special guest to keep Mike Wills company on the front line whilst Clive does a little more railing painting (a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do), is trumpeter Mike Nicholls. He is one of Ken Rankine’s companions in the Ealing Based Big Band, “The Sound of 17”. You can read more of his exploits by following the link below:-

Next week it will be Mr. Wills turn at the railings, and Clive will be kept company with the solo’s by guitarist Max Britain.

Dont forget that tickets are available now for our monster bash on October 27th (Octoberfest!!). Just £10 including a light supper at half time. Our guests so far include Tracey Mendham, Simon Spillett, Stuart Henderson, and John Coverdale. More invitations have been issued, and I’m sure we will get further additions to the cast list. Dont forget that this time, the profit from the evening is going to ensure that we can keep live jazz alive in South Bucks.

If there is moonlight tonight, then I might see you.


Geoff C

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Little Forward Planning

There are a couple of "away" gigs to mention this week. All very worthy!!

On October 1st a Jazz supper, as part of the Wooburn Festival has Michael Garrick and his new quartet coming to the Curzon Centre in Maxwell Road, Beaconsfield. If you refer back to my write up of the Swanage Festival you will recall how excited I was at their gig at that event. Well, for £20 (including a cold supper) you can get a reprise of the whole show. Michael is bringing the exact same team with him to Beaconsfield to recreate the music of the MJQ. Jim Hart on Vibraphone, Matt Ridley bass and Steve Brown on drums. At last you will be able to hear "Golden Striker" played in full!!

Two weeks after that, our regular drummer, Martin Hart, will be presenting "Jazz at The Oakwood" in the Woodley Theatre. With his trio will be up and coming lady saxophonist Sue Greening. It all takes place on October 15th at 7.45 pm, and will cost you £10 to get in. These concerts are usually a sell out, so get your ticket soon.

You dont have to wait that long, or pay as much, to see Martin Hart. He is of course with us this Thursday at The Hedsor Social Club, as part of our usual rhythm section. In front of them this week will be Mike Wills on reeds, and Stuart Henderson on trumpet and flugel horn. £5 will get you in. 8.30 pm start.

Dont forget to get your tickets for our gala fundraising evening on October 27 th at Hedsor, when you can see Stuart again, together with Tracey Mendham, and Simon Spillett, who signed up for this event last week. That will also include a light buffet, will cost you £10 and start at 8 pm.

That event (our Octoberfest) could almost generate a big band. Last week I talked about the Skelton Skinner Allstars Big Band. Well, just like the buses, another excellent big band Cd has come into my possession.

Not such a big band this time, but scintillation sizzeling stuff non the less, from a 9 piece orchestra. Led by drummer Ken Mathieson the Classic Jazz Orchestra, formed in Edinburgh in 2004 sets out to reinterpret rather than recreate, music of an earlier era, whether it be Armstrong or Mingus.

This recording of Carters "Glasgow Suite" features Alan Barnes playing with the The Classic Jazz Orchestra to perform the music of Benny Carter. You can probably just about read the track list from the CD cover, but most of the tunes were either written by, arranged by or performed by that master of the alto sax Benny Carter.

It really is another "go out and buy me" Cd. Published on Alan Barnes Woodville label , it was created with sponsorship from Creative Land Scotland. The CD is entitled "The Glasgow Suite", and it is on Woodville Records WVCD133

As a last comment, rumour has it that Mo has decided to retire from her role as organiser of Bourne End Community Centre's monthly jazz evenings, and so far no one has volunteered to step into that role. After 12 years putting on very enjoyable monthly concerts in the Centre Bar under the heading of Centre Jazz, she has every right to hang up her booking telephone.

Hedsor Jazz has been running every week for about the same length of time. It could make you think. Do you want to see another venue lost to Live Jazz?


Geoff C

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday September 9th

A few things to up date you all about, but first, a comment.

Last nights session with Simon Spillett as our guest at Hedsor was truly world class. I don't think anywhere or any team could have bettered last nights performance. ALL the players were at the top of their game, with Simon providing new ideas and harmonies to some fairly well know modern jazz tunes. It was an occasion that someone should have recorded, and I know I didn't!

Two solo spots from Simon, both ballads (and of course it's a well known fact that he cant play ballads), some fast tunes, but they never lacked excitement, and as I said at the top, harmonies galore. That's of the cuff harmony between Clive Burton on the trombone, and Simon on tenor sax. Not pre organised, but true improvisation. Each listening to the other AND knowing the chords!

I have paid significantly more money to be bored with much less skill by some jazz musicians who are world famous. And where was all this happening? Why, The Hedsor Social Club of course, and all for just a five pound note.

The two at the front were not the only ones playing their socks off. Someone turned to me and said "That's one improved bass player". It's true. Ken Rankine has come on leaps and bounds since he gave up his day job. Nigel Fox on keyboard played some wonderful stuff too, and Martin Hart is such a talented drummer. He can also write and arrange as well. See his two CD's for the evidence.

Martin Hart in action

It was good that the room was pretty full too, and we could have made up another rhythm section from amongst the audience!

It leaves you wanting more. Thursday nights really are the beginning of the weekend (well they are once the raffle is over!). So next week there will be more. From two guys who weren't there last night. Our guest next week (that community service is getting in the way again, lucky Reading) is one of the best bop trumpet players around, Stuart Henderson. He will be playing alongside our regular man of reeds, Mike Wills.

Which leads me on to a couple of other plugs. Our guest list for October 27 th's Octoberfest is growing. Simon Spillett put his name down for it last night. Stuart Henderson has already signed up, and Tracey Mendham will bring her tenor, voice and personality to the evening as well. The regular Clive Burton Quintet will be at the heart of the show, and more musicians, fans of what we do at Hedsor, will be coming to support the event as well. This time the gala night is to raise funds for Hedsor Jazz itself. We are determined to keep live jazz alive in our unique jazz venue, despite the trying times we live in. We also want to keep it as reasonably priced as we can. You may remember that originally we didn't charge for entry. Tickets for our Octoberfest gala evening are now available from Me on a Thursday, or from The Stationery Depot in Cookham (01628 531178).

Stuart Henderson

One final thing. Now is the time to vote for your favourite jazz musicians. Follow the link

and you can make your favourite jazz musicians dream come true!

Roll the credits, its time to say


Geoff C

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Jazz at Hedsor

Tonight we have another great session of the complete Clive Burton Quintet for you at The Hedsor Social Club. £5 entry complete with a raffle ticket. 8.30 start, but, you probably know all that anyway.

Two items of advanced news. Next week we have as our special guest the wonderful tenor player Simon Spillett. That's Thursday September 8th.

Yes, we now brace ourselves for a steady decline towards winter. To brighten that prospect we are planning another Big Room event at Hedsor. October 27th, for just £10 a head, we will have a plethora of guests including Tracey Mendham and Stuart Henderson. A light buffet for half time will be included in your ticket price. Put it in your diary now. Let your friends know. The advanced glow of the coming event will light our way to Winter!!

CD Listen of the Week

The Skelton Skinner Allstar Big Band "Cookin with the Lid On" is a superb tribute to the music of the Terry Gibbs Big Band. Past Royal Academy friends, drummer Matt Skelton and Altoist Colin Skinner have gathered together some of the best of British to pay there tribute to Terry Gibbs and Mel Lewis on a very new release that also happens to be very well recorded.

Included with them is this full size big band are Colin Oxley on guitar and Anthoney Kerr on vibes. Steve Fishwick and Gordon Campbell are in the brass section, and the tunes will all be familiar to you, "Begin The Beguine", "Billies Bounce", "It Could Happen To You", "Day In Day Out"are just part of the selection. Even the disk label looks like an LP. It's a really good example of big band music thoughtfully presented by a very upside down label (you'll have to look at one to see why!). Diving Duck Recordings DDRCD015

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good Morning Jazz Fans

It’s been a week or so since I last issued a new blog, so on this lovely day for rain, I thought I would do another one!!

First up, a plug for Hedsor Jazz. I couldn’t be with you last week, but I gather you did all turn out to cover my absence, and that it was a cracking session by the regular Clive Burton Quintet. This week we have a slight reorganisation of personnel, Clive is playing away again this Thursday and with Mike Wills as our Reed section we have that wonderfully talented guitarist John Coverdale. I have a feeling that the engine at the back will be slightly changed too, with maybe a different bass player to Mr. K. Rankine!! (I think he is also playing away, this time in Dorset).

What will be usual, the admittance price. It will be still be just £5, and the start time for the music is 8.30 pm. Normal service regarding CD sales will also be resumed this week!

Do put a date in your diary. October 27th. We hope to hold another gala evening in Hedsor's Big Room. This will be to raise funds for our own bank account in order to safeguard the finances for future Hedsor Jazz. We were going to do this earlier in the year, but due to Zane’s illness we raised money for him and then for the Thames Valley Hospice instead.

Next year we hope to return to our usual Cancer Research fundraising concert type program.

CD’s Listened to Recently

Two quite different ones this week. First Chronologically is a set of John Coltrane albums from the 1960’s.

On the Rhino label is a box set of 5 of John C’s early LP’s, reissued now on CD, but with the full LP artwork for each album. At £13.99 it’s a bargain.

I must confess that I find Coltrane hard going sometimes, but these early albums are the ones that are most accessible, and contain the reasons why he became a jazz icon.

Second up is a slightly later album by a band that I always enjoyed but never saw live. Weather Report Live in Offenbach in 1978 is a new release on the Rockpalast label. A double CD with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter with Peter Erskine and Jaco Pastorius as the Rhythm Section.

The group is at its most spacious, crisp and cogent. Released on two discs, the 18 pieces are taken from every stage of their decade-long history with only three from hit 1977 album Heavy Weather. Extensive in every sense. Wayne Shorter is very involved too, which always helped. Exciting, tuneful a great addition to anyone’s Weather Report Collection. Jazz Rock at it’s best. MIG 80092 2CD

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Tonight, Thursday August 4th, at Hedsor Jazz , as a very special guest we have saxophonist Don Wright with Clive Burton and the quartet. Many will remember the beautiful saxophone solo he played at Zane's funeral. That was a sad time, but tonight I'm sure it will be just as memorable, but with a little more lightness as well. Usual £5 entry 8.30 pm start time.


For some years now we have been constantly asking Vasilis Xenopoulos where his Cd was? Many of us think of Vasilis as being a major player in Modern Jazz, who excites us every time he plays. To do this for over 3 years and for us not to have the means of buying a souvenir of our live enjoyment has been a real disappointment.

Well, the waiting time is over “Loud City” can now be yours!

Has it been worth the wait?


BUT it has waited since 2009 to get this far, as the recording is of the band that first came to the Cookham Festival in 2009, it being recorded in April that year. For lovers of Hammond Organ that is no bad thing, as it has Sam Gambarini as 2/3rd of the rhythm section! Sam has now returned to Italy, so having him on this CD is an added bonus.

The material is all composed and arranged by Vasilis, and anyone who has heard him over the last 3 years will recognise many of the tunes. “EJF Theme Tune”, “Street Dance” and “Loud City” itself will all be familiar.

Nigel Price is on guitar and Chris Nickolls on drums. It all goes to make this a very enjoyable CD, well worth buying for anyone, including the Cookham Festival crowd, who heard the music live.

The wait I think has been because it is now out on a major jazz record label, 33 Records. This should give it the wider spread distribution that I think it deserves.

Lets just hope that it doesn’t take as long again for us to have a recording out of the version of Xtet that did this years Cookham Festival!!

33 Records 33JAZZ224


One of the titles on the CD is "Lazy Sunday". I don't think Vasilis knows what that is! If my information is correct, last Sunday he played Merlins Cave until 3 pm, and then helped to close the Ealing Jazz Festival with The Sound of 17!! He probably even had time for tea!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blog Entry Dated 31.7.11

First of all, a retrospective (OK, a look backwards then), on last Thursdays Hedsor Jazz with Tracey Mendham.

Initially, the day didn’t start well! Clive had booked his passage on a riverboat trip, thinking he would be off the boat in time to join us for the majority of our session at Hedsor with Tracey. Unfortunatly, the boat must have crossed a time zone, as the boat docked at 9pm, not 8pm! This had an unfortunate knock on affect, as HE had the raffle bag, and the PA. OK, we managed to resolve the PA by borrowing Michael Weinblatts (Ta Muchly). The raffle prizes were promised to be withus by 9.45pm, so, no panic then.

Tracey, who travels from South Ockenden, then got cought up in a bad day at the M25 and again mild panic, but travel was eventually resumed in time.

BUT, on the plus side, our room was full, and for the first half Tracey put on a stella performance with our rhythm section of Geoff Clarke keyboard, Ken Rankine bass, and Martin Hart drums. Her brand of tenor playing (meaty, but she is a vegetarian!) was equalled only by her laugh and vibrant personalty.

Clive managed to get a few notes in sideways upon his return, and at the end of the evening, Tracey had sold a number of copies of her CD “The Orphan Manuscript”, and we all had an grin on our faces as we left. A wonderful evening of entertainment for your £5, and some of you went home with a raffle prize as well.

Next Thursday our guest is Don Wright, another saxophone player with a big tone, and notes to match.

Now another retrospective.

Gill Cook

Saturday I went to The Ealing Jazz Festival, something I have now managed to do for the last 3 or so years. It is always great fun, well organised, with excellent jazz content. This Saturday was no less enjoyable than in previous years, despite the increase in both admission charge and the cost of the beer! We are approaching Marlow Crown Plaza money for the booze there now AND you can only get in 4 cans of bought out alcohol (your bag is searched!).

First up in the main tent was Gill Cook, a very slim blond singer with a great talent. I had only listened to one of her CD’s before, but she is a very talented lady, and she had an excellent band with her consisting of Jamie ODonnell Alto Saxophone, Nick Tomalin – Piano, Dominic Howells - Double Bass, and Paul Cavacuiti – Drums. An unexpected pleasure for the start of a jazz day.

Next on, after ½ hours reset time was Xantone Blacq’s Brazilian Connection featuring Gui Tavares. Lots of bells and whistles, but not really my scene. If my memory is correct, this band were a better experience last year and I must admit to taking a break for coffee and cake during this set.

Ron Drake

Next onto the main arena stage was the Adrian Macintosh Quartet. This was basically the old Humph rhythm section plus Ron Drake on Tenor and clarinet. Excellent, and again I was surprised at how good they were. They swung, and Ted Beaumont on piano sounded remarkably like Gene Harris. John Rees-Jones - was on the Double Bass. Straight ahead jazz, played superbly, and it got the full appreciation of the audience, who would have been happy to have heard more.

I would point out at this stage that the audience at Ealing are not your usual jazz fans. Yes, they are there as well, but so too are local families out for a sunny afternoon in the park with children and an idea that sun, sand (well, very dry grass) plus the available hooch, was a recipe for a great social gathering, which it was. So, for the uninitiated to have stormed for more at the close of the Adrian MacIntosh set was quite something.

Vasilis Xenopoulos

Slightly more understandable was the great reception for Nick Mills and The Blue Note Project. Here some truly wonderful soloists played very recognisable tunes. It was nice to see some old friends from Hedsor and Cookham playing for this group, made up of Nick Mills – Trombone, Freddie Gavita – Trumpet, Vasilis Xenopoulos - Tenor Saxophone, Kit Downes – Piano, Mark Rose - Double Bass, Matt Home – Drums.

Matt Home

Liz Fletcher

Jim Mullen

Lastly, as the light faded from the park, up on stage came Liz Fletcher with a very star studded band. She looked a million dollars (or a million of whatever currency you feel safe with these days), stunning in a red dress, with matching hat. The band were not Georgina Jackson Trumpet as stated on the web program, but a good (male) trumpet player non the less, Alison Neale Saxophone and Flute, Jim Mullen Guitar, not Gareth Williams – Piano as stated on the program, but again a very competent player, Adam King - Double Bass, and Sebastian De Krom – Drums.

For me, this set just didn’t work. The main bulk of the audience loved it, but to play well known jazz tunes to a funky/rock backbeat simply doesn’t work for a jazz audience. It wasn't helped by the sound system, which produced a very messy sound and I could not hear the saxophone at all. (I was 4 rows back).

The arrangements for such an experiment are going to be complicated, and the band appeared under rehearsed. Only one tune was played in 4/4 time, and to hear Duke Ellington’s “It don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing” played with a non swinging back beat was painful. Jim Mullen I think was the only instrumentalist who managed to make anything he soloed on sound reasonable.

It was a disappointing end to an otherwise great day. Liz has done so much better on previous occasions, and she did ask at the beginning of her set to let her know if we liked it, because she has an album coming out with these arrangements. Well, now I have, sorry.

Next time I blog, there will be a review of Vasilis Xenopoulos’s new album. Yes, at long last he has a CD out on 33 records. More of that next time.