Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This week at Hedsor

This week at Hedsor we have our regular Clive Burton Quintet. I do hope you will feel encouraged to come along, as last weeks excellent session with the formidable talent of Simon Spillett combined with Clive Burton, Steve Pickings (on bass) and Mike Jeffries (on drums) was only enjoyed by a very few people.

I was shocked to see so few turn out. I know the road works make it slightly more difficult to get to the Hedsor Social Club, and Mr. Burton was in swearing mode because of the detour, but it isn’t that far a go round! All the bridges were working, there was no need for a ferry, and we hadn’t raised our price to get you in, but we honestly didn’t have enough of you there, so do feel told off!!

Looking further ahead than 1 week, Tracy Mendham has asked if she can come and celebrate her birthday one day early with us on April 5th. Actually what she wrote was “Would love to come back (on) April 5th the day before my birthday. Can’t think of a nicer place to be.” We have said yes!

We have also had a request from Vasilis, who is asking for the opportunity to come with Pete Cook and have the Hedsor Experience again. We are trying to sort out a suitable date, but it goes to show yet again what a fine reputation Hedsor Jazz is gaining when first-rate jazz musicians want to come to it and play!

We are also in negotiation with Stuart Henderson’s Big Band to come and play for us on a Thursday evening. Considering there are 17 of them, this will have to be in the big bar. I’ll let you know about both events when the dates are confirmed.

One final point. Last year we offered a concession for people coming for the first time to have the Hedsor Experience on us, for free. We now feel that we have run the offer for long enough, it it is henceforth withdrawn. Sorry, but we do need the money that even first times can bring in. We still hope that you will encourage your friends to become regular members of the Hedsor Audience. it's just a thought, that members can soon become embers!!

Jazz in Black and White

I know it has suddenly become Oscarly fashionable to watch a new film with no speech and in Black and White. There is another film, shown at last years London Jazz Festival, which is also treated in the same way.

“Louis, A Silent Film” is loosely based on the early life of Louis Armstrong. It’s great fun, in a kind of vintage slapstick way, but with an excellent soundtrack written, and performed in part, by Wynton Marsalis. I have been fortunate enough to have been lent a promo DVD copy, and can thoroughly recommend it. Have a look at the trailer at to see what YOU think!!

Well, as they used to say on Saturday Mornings “That’s it for now folks”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A time for a little look back on last Thursdays session at Hedsor. The Clive Burton Quintet, plus one Tracey Mendham on tenor sax, voice and laugh!!

I think the first thing to take note of is her incredible tone on both tenor and baritone. A really large and rich sound.

The next thing to notice is she is really a very good player, although perhaps sometimes this is obscured by her exuberance!

And finally what a singer when she puts her mind to it. The finale to end all Hedsor Jazz nights left many of our regulars saying it would have been worth an entry fee of £20!! Not that anyone gave us the money you understand.  Louis Prima’s- “Buona Sera Signorina” with a spontaneous encore of it all again.

Another nice thing about last Thursday’s Hedsor Jazz was that the bar was FULL. If only we could do that EVERY WEEK!!

                                                                     Simon Spillett

But you do have another opportunity to fill the Hedsor bar this week. On Thursday Feb 23rd Our star guest will be Simon Spillett. Another saxophone player but one with a very different approach.

He is a recognised star on the British jazz scene and it is really a tribute to our Hedsor Jazz audience, and to the quality of our regular Quintet that Simon comes back to us on such a regular basis. He appears all over the UK, often with players of rich renown (John Critchinson for one) yet we are able to treat him as a friend. Try doing that to some of the stars at The Brit Awards!

It must not be forgotten that Hedsor Jazz is a unique jazz venue in the UK. There is not another venue like it. The band of fans (called Jazz Angels) who regularly underwrite our losses are to be greatly thanked. So far, Hedsor Jazz has been a ten-year work of art. Literally art, because jazz is an art form. It is also entertainment, and in Hedsor’s case, the art and the artists are accessible. The cost has been kept at £5 for 3 years now mainly due to our angelic supporters club. We still need an audience, jazz needs and audience, which means you coming out through thick (last week over 30 of you) and thin (the week before it was more like 15). Every musician plays better when there is an appreciative audience. Yet at Hedsor they will still play, even when less than 9 turn up as an audience. It has never been called off because of lack of support.

                                                                Barbara Thompson
There has been another boost to jazz this last week, not that the BBC made any great noise about it. But BBC4 produced 2 nights of jazz content, last Friday about Sonny Rollins, and on Sunday a mixture of programs, but mainly highlighting the music, and battle against illness, of Barbara Thompson. Lets hope that due to these showings some more people have become aware of the wonderful music that you and I strive to keep alive, and maybe they will ask for more. The BBC MIGHT even be prodded into producing some new Jazz programs for TV, like the old Jazz 625 of the black and white days of the 1960’s

So, don’t be shy, we are very friendly at Hedsor, and if you haven’t been before we will make you very welcome. Why not try us this Thursday, and see and hear, and even talk with Simon Spillett, tenor saxophonist of the year. All for just £5. Be there before 8.30 pm when the music starts! Simon will wear a suit, but you don’t have to!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Late Revision.

One of the drawbacks of the impecunious way we run jazz at Hedsor is that when named artists call in late to say they have received an offer of musical employment that they cant refuse, we have to let hem go. So tonight we still have Stuart Henderson coming to play trumpet and flugel horn for us, but with him in place of his saxophonist colleague “Tolly” we have a guitarist equally well known to us, John Coverdale.

I’m sure the attraction of the music and mayhem of Hedsor Jazz will still draw you out, (and in from the cold), so I look forward to seeing you all supporting live jazz from 8.30 pm tonight. And all still for only £5!

Geoff C

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Good Morning Jazz Fans,

Jazz at Hedsor this week is one of our “different” weeks. No doubt there will be three regular members of our rhythm section towards the rear, but up front I am delighted to say that we have a re appearance of two of our new favourites, trumpet and flugel horn player Stuart Henderson, and his Ukrainian colleague “Tolly” on tenor sax. If you missed there appearance at our Christmas concert, or when they played together in December in The Hedsor Social Club Bar, which I called “The Hedsor Pick Up Band” as only Nigel Fox was a regular Hedsor performer, then you will not want to miss this Thursday. They are truly something wonderful from the town of Reading! Improvised jazz at it’s very best, and all for just £5! The Jazz at Hedsor starts at 8.30 pm. They may even play “Bossa” again!!

Just to ensure that you march with determination from Thursday to Thursday, in addition to our regular Clive Burton Quintet, on Thursday Feb 16th we have saxophonist, singer, and bombshell, Tracey Mendham coming to play for us again. Place this in your diary now, you really don’t want to miss this one.

CD’s Listened to

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my listen to a CD on the label JLP with a band called “One For All”. The album was called “Incorrigible”, and was a very enjoyable listen, very well played and beautifully recorded. I have now made an effort to trace more of the labels products and have found one by another young player who was previously unknown to me. “Grace” by Michael Dease I think will appeal to all who like the kind of jazz we put on at Hedsor. It has plenty of melody, wonderful recording and tremendous playing. Michael plays trombone, and soprano and tenor sax. Alongside him are Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Rufus Reid on bass and Gene Jackson on drums. A very talented bunch of American musicians. They have a number of guests with them including Roy Hargrove on trumpet and Eric Alexander on tenor sax. Tunes from a wide range of composer/performers have been included (Jobim to Beiderbecke via Cotrane!), which makes the listen an interesting one. So, for me, Jazz Legacy Productions have done it again! JLP 1001009 is the number.

Another CD comes in mono, not as well recorded, but what a treasure. Recorded by an enthusiastic amateur in The Dancing Slipper Ballroom in Nottingham in 1966 Humphrey Lyttelton and His Band with Buck Clayton is a real joy for all of those who, like me, listened to Humph and his band live in those years. The additional joy of having Buck Clayton on board means for me it was a “must buy”. But it also has a 19 year old Tony Coe on tenor sax and clarinet, Eddie Harvey on piano, Dave Green on bass and Tony Taylor on drums. We do tend to forget how good a band Humph always led and he himself was no slouch on trumpet either. You try and tell who is playing the trumpet at any one time, it’s almost like double tracking!

It’s jazz, it’s largely British, and it is best! OK the recording has limitations, but it doesn’t detract from the music. It’s released on Humphs own label “Calligraph Records” CLG CD 048 AND it’s a double album!!