Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Well, fans of Hedsor Jazz anyway!

I think we are all still more or less in Holiday Mood, although we do have at Cronin Towers our hall and stairs being redecorated starting today. BUT with another damp looking Bank Holiday coming up I thought I would again mention what we have for you to enjoy jazz wise.

This Thursday (August 24th) we welcome back vibraphone player Alan Grahame. He is, of course, wanting to commence his next 90 years in the same place that he celebrated his Life in Music, Hedsor Jazz!! It will be good to have him back with us.

For our last Thursday of August (31st) we have another returnee, saxophonist and flautist Kelvin Christian.

The year is racing towards Christmas, but we do have at least one more "event" planed before our Christmas party (which you know is December 21st with Tina May as our guest).

On September 28th we have a first. Acclaimed singer Peter Jones will be joining us together with saxophonist Duncan Lamont junior. Peter has a number of critically acclaimed CD’s to his name, and as we haven’t had a male singer to Hedsor for many years, I thought it would be a good opportunity to plug the gap. It will be a normal start time event, but I may give away a few nibbles to help the evening along!

If you go to Peter’s website you can sample his singing before you come.

CD reviews later in the year when all the holiday breaks and decorating are over. 

BUT one last plug, Jazz FM is available on DAB Radio in mono sound (which is still great entertainment), but they have recently launched Jazz FM Stereo, which can be had in the newish version of DAB radio called DAB+

for even more info


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I'm sorry but I missed last Thursdays session,

but I hope to be with you at Hedsor Jazz this Thursday. And in a repeat of last week I also hope we will have Mike Wills back with us now that he can get his shoes back on!

Next week (August 24th) we can look forward to having Alan Grahame with us on vibraphone. 

What a celebration his "Life in Music" was. A totally unique experience for all who were able to be part of the audience.

A Geoff Swaffield Image of Alan's "Celebration"

There again, Hedsor Jazz does try and give you some great musical experiences. 

Looking a long way forward I can confirm that we will have a very special guest with us for our Christmas Party on December 21st. World Famous singer Tina May will be joining us to herald in Christmas, and I'm sure she will be a far better herald than the adverts on telly for this annual event! 

So with luck I will see you all tomorrow. Do encourage others to become Hedsor Jazz acquaintances. Better still, encourage those who are already acquainted with Hedsor Jazz become regular attendees!

Above are two images of Tina May the last time she came for Christmas!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

It HAS been pointed out to me that in today's original blog I inadvertently credited critic Clive Davis with being the leader of Hedsor's regular quintet. He isn't, it is OF COURSE Clive BURTON!!
Just when you thought you had got it all sorted out,

you get a phone call!!

Mike Wills will NOT be with us on Thursday after all!! Sadly he has got a bad case of gout!

So bad in fact that he can't get a shoe on. 

Anyone who has ever suffered with this sort of problem will sympathise (and it doesn't really have a close association with drinking lots of port!) as it is very painful. So for Mike, for a while, it is footy up time.

In his place this week I am delighted to announce that we have that lovely toned young saxophonist Robert Goodhew. It will be great to have him back at Hedsor Jazz once again.

So for us, if not for Mike, a consolation prize!

Geoff C
A short (but pretty?) blog today,

To tell you all that tomorrow we have the return of our REGULAR saxophone section in the shape and sound of MIKE WILLS!

Yes, Mike can drive again, and so we say a very "Welcome Back" to our Oxford based (and now married) regular member of the Clive Burton Quintet.

I also want to say "thank you" to all of the musicians who have helped us out during Mike's absence. I hope we get other opportunities to enjoy all of you at some future time. Now there's a thought. Is there such a thing as "future time"?

Now for some of the photos of recent events at Hedsor Jazz I haven't had the opportunity to publish before.

These are all from the amazing night we had celebrating Alan Grahame's Life in Music. Most of the above are from Geoff Swaffield, on or two are from my camera.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

My First Post Swanage Holiday Blog,

And what a lot to say!!

First our guest for this week at Hedsor Jazz is the famous son of a famous father. Duncan Lamont Junior will be joining Clive and our rhythm section this week. 

We also have another guest this week in the shape and sound of Mike Jeffries on drums. It is regular drummer Martin Hart’s turn to paint the railings, and I understand they are a rather long set, so we will be seeing Mike Jeffries again next week too.

BUT what about last week?

An awe inspiring evening, one which Hedsor Jazz had the privilege of hosting. The celebration of Alan Graham’s Life in Music.

Now if we are asked who has played at Hedsor jazz we can really reel off an incredible list of musicians. There are also a few names we can boast about who have come to listen too! There were over 100 people present!

I will attach as many photos of the evening as Blogger will allow, for you to see and recognise, but I will list just a few.

Obviously some of Alan’s family came and played for and with him. A grandson who is an excellent drummer, daughter Lisa on saxophone (she brought along another member of the Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra on trombone), both Duncan Lamont senior and junior on saxophone, Simon Spillett on saxophone, guitarist Terry Hutchins, Ken McCarthy on piano as well as our own Nigel Fox, John Monney and 2 other bass players. 

I am going to give you the opportunity of identifying some of the others who played.

But in the audience were some eminent musicians who didn’t play. Bill Ashton, founding director of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, accordion player Jack Emblow, musical director and pianist Laurie Holloway (came in towards the end), and I’m sure many more faces with names!

One interesting musical interlude was having Peter Ripper duetting with Lisa. Master and pupil, he had been her musical coach some years ago.

Another part of the 3 hours of non stop music, (yes, there were only changeover breaks for different amalgamations to gather), was a request by Alan Graham to play a ballad with Simon Spillett, this was absolutely beautiful, I dare anyone who heard that to say that Simon cannot play ballads!

And the food. Jan Burton, you excelled yourself. It was vast and wonderful, and available for continuous grazing from 9pm!

Enough text and eulogy for now, all I will add is that it has been an absolute privilege to have been involved with Alan (and our own regular trombone player, Clive Burton) in getting this musical celebration held at The Hedsor Social Club. 

Now many more musicians know where it is, even in the dark!

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