Well m’dears, amid the crunch (‘Crunch Blues’?), endless revelations about MPs expenses (at least they come to Ronnie’s and the Pizza) and reverberating echoes of belts being tightened against Primark belt-buckles, how’re you doing?
All’s proceeding smoothly enough with the old Half Dozen and with gigs for the coming Summer. Meantime some of us managed a holiday! – touching ground again at the beginning of April after a Carribean cruise (thanks, Chris Walker!) which took us to Montego Bay, then on – via a variety of very hot (and fairly identical!) islands – to St. Thomas, Madeira and then on home on April 6th. Julian Stringle, Craig Milverton and I joined the good company of Bobby Worth, Roger Curfey (bass) and Ian Bateman along with Chris’ Quintet and dear friend Kenny Ball who not only topped the bill at the star concerts but came along and joined in the jam sessions too, blowing everybody into the very best of health. Kenny and I are talking about a book too, telling the story of his starry like as a jazz ‘household name’ (‘like Harpic – clean round the bend!’ he reminded me!) and we’ll be getting started on that in the next few weeks.
From there the band and I went straight into a week of concerts at the Pizza Express London, with a variety of guests including singers Val Wiseman and Maggie Reeday (what a pair of knockouts!) and Tim Huskisson (clarinet). It was a great week and by Friday and Saturday they were turning people away as the room was full. What interested me particularly was that there were dozens of young people there – and not just for the Pizza – they loved the music! We were asked loads of questions ranging from ‘what IS this lovely stuff?’ to more specialized enquiries about our instruments, whom we preferred as palyers and lots more. It’s interesting, this, I think. Jazz is still seen as a ‘minority music’ – thanks (need we say it?) to that ‘blue meanie’ called the ‘Meeja’ but in fact there’s far more going on in our music than you’d think; more jam sessions in London than ever before; hundreds of great players coming out of NYJO and its country-wide family of YJOs, and more interest in jazz of almost any sort than there has been in generations. So there’s no doubt that the music is flourishing. All it needs is a youthful figurehead and away we go. Where are you the new Humph, the new Sir John Dankworth? Get your horn and lead the way!
And by the way! Don’t forget that on 28 May 209 at 12 noon the National Jazz Archive mounts its annual fundraiser at the 100 Club (thanks Richard and Jeff Horton!). And thanks too to our top=of-the-bill attraction, the ‘Bone Supremacy!’ (wow, what a great title!) who’ll be appearing to raise funds for us. Just in case you haven’t come across them yet the ‘Supremacy’ is made up of four of Britain’s greatest young Jazz trombonists – Adrian Fry (leader),Ian Bateman, Andy Flaxman and Chris Gower plus their rhythm section. Some time ago Adrian had the good idea of reviving the late Pete Strange’s all-trombone group from the l970s called ‘Five-a-Slide’ and used several of their arrangements as the foundation-stone for a whole new library of music moving from Dixieland to Funk! It was decided to let the original name rest in peace and a couple of alternatives – including ‘Slide and the Family Bone’! – were considered, before the ‘Bone Supremacy’ made it to the title-page. Eat your heart out, Matt Damon! So do get along to the 100 at lunchtime on May 28th; you’ll be in for a musical treat and support the most worthy cause of the National Jazz Archive at the same time! Tickets are £10.00.
And remember the Half Dozen is keeping busy too so take a look at the gig list and come along to see us soon!Take care and have fun meantime!