Hello again!

Well m’dears, it’s been a busy old time! On the road with Paul Jones and ‘Rocking in Rhythm’ up and down the country (including a knockout gig at the Midlands’ top jazz club, ‘The Sands’ in Gainsborough!). Don’t know whether you’ve managed to come and see us there but if not do pay a trip to the club sometime; it’s situated in the Old Town Hall in the town’s centre and you won’t find a plushier venue almost anywhere outside London – apart from our good friends at the Concorde of course! That’s another great British jazz club!

 As for me there’s been some more exciting gigs of late. One of them was at the Dereham Jazz Society where I got to play with a GREAT alto-saxophonist who also happens to be a pop-legend – the wonderful Frank Hardcastle. Or you may remember him as ‘Frankie’! Either way he played the booting Earl Bostic-style alto-saxophone on those great hit records by the late Hurricane Smith back in the 1970s – do you remember ‘Oh Babe, What Would You Say’ (later covered by Liza Minelli no less!!) and a great Gilbert O’Sullivan tune called ‘Who was it?’? A few weeks ago Frank called to tell me that his performances with Hurricane on the American Johnny Carson Show are now on ‘Youtube’ (do check them out;they’re great!!) and I managed to persuade him to come out to play with me at Dereham…..he lives nearby!The result was one of the hottest nights I’ve blown in many a moon. Phil Brooke and his Trio provided the perfect accompaniment and I’m glad to say that I’ll be playing with Phil again on 16 August at the Globe, Wells and then for Gill Alexander (that great bassist and my old friend!) at Beccles Church on Friday 25th September. On this date I’ll be with tenorist Karen Sharp too – lovely! And maybe we can persuade Frank out again……..who knows?

Just this week I got to play with Tim Wacher’s wonderful marching band for an ancient London Ceremony in Covent Garden. Every year Tim organizes this mammoth orchestra (featuring such as John Barnes, Chris Hodgkins, Julian Marc Stringle, Don Cook and many more) to march round the Garden providing music for a ceremony in which the Landlords of Covent Garden pay to the Lord Mayor or his agents a token rent of (I think!!) red roses and ripe apples. It’s all done with great ceremony and dignity, hosted by London’s Town Crier, and ends up with a whizz-bang jam session on the lower deck of the Garden featuring all the players who haven’t lost the route along the way! Students of ancient London history may like to know that this delightfully eccentric event dates back all of twenty-one years – a fine example of the prevailing power of London’s eccentricities!

A couple of days later I journied up to Bedford for a wonderful evening with John Patrick’s Trio as part of the Bedford Arts Festival. I expect many people will know John’s name – he was Musical Director of Midlands TV for years and – as I found out from him to my great delight – was also pianist for the immortal ‘Tizwaz’ show starring Chris Tarrant, Spit the Dog and many other household names! For the show, John tells me, he donned a pig’s head to become ‘Porky the Pianist’ and on one occasion finished the show (which went out live on Saturdays), took off his head and raced to London to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. That’s versatility! Anyhow we had a marvellous session and there’s a kindly review of what we did on the internet by good friend Chris Ure. Thanks Chris!

 It’s just as busy as ever right now, despite the crunch. I suppose we jazzmen are lucky – we have regular night-jobs!This Friday 26 June we go to the Upton Jazz Festival with Paul Jones for ‘Rocking in Rhythm’ (if you’re going down, we’re on at 9pm by the way!) And, oh yes – surprise, surprise! The Brecon Jazz Festival which was sadly cancelled earlier this year is ON again! And thanks to organizer Elaine Williams we’re there on Sunday 9 August with Paul Jones and the Half Dozen doing ‘Rocking in Rhythm’ again! The gig, by the way, is earlier than usual; we’re on at 11am-1pm. In fact if you’re down there Julian Marc, Dominic Ashworth Len Skeat and I will be blowing on the jazz bus the day before (Saturday 8th) between 11am and 1pm again. Selections will include ‘The Trolley Song’ ‘My fare, lady’ and a medley of three more, all of which will come along at once and be played at the same time!

Had a lot of fun today doing trumpet assessments for the Trinity College of Music. I wish you could have been there. Three very fine young trumpeters – Rob Greenwood, Mark Perry and Nicholas Malcolm – all leading groups of equally fantastic musicians. With players like these – some of the greatest newcomers I’ve heard – the future of our music is in safe hands. It just needs to get on TV a little more. As we know…………..

 Good to talk. See you soon! As ever,

Digby.

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