My first Masonic Lodge booking... To be added to the ever-growing list of interesting gig settings. The venue: a modern hotel in Winchester. The event, a Freemasons 'Celebration of Women' day - at least I think that's what they said. There were some peculiar songs, some memorable speeches, a colourful toastmaster, and an evening of cocktails and jazz, with vocals by Monika Ramstein.
A wonderful evening of jazz at Spike's Place Jazz Club, with Jo Fooks and Al Nicholls on Tenor Saxophones. Newly refurbished music room in the Saffron Hotel, in Saffron Walden. A bit of a treck round the M25 and almost 3 hours of traffic to get there, but worth the effort. I must say, the highlight of this gig, apart from playing with magnificent musicians, was that cup of tea at Birchanger Green Motorway Services on the way home. Phew!
The monthly jazz sessions at The Clocktower Pub in Teddington continue. Last week saw the appearance of a contra alto clarinet, the latest piece to enter Mark Aston's instrument collection. A deep, powerful beast of a sound! The first Wednesdays of every month - evening starts at 8pm, and tickets for the next event can be bought here: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/marksmusic
From the 27 November 2018 a revitalised jazz night at the lovely George and Dragon pub (currently being refurbished) in Thames Ditton will see the drummer and some of the other band members making a weekly appearance. The food is great, the location quaint, and the popular Tuesday night jazz has a buzzing atmosphere. Starts 8:30pm, High St, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY
Earlier this month, the now long-established monthly residency at The Clocktower Pub in Teddington High Street saw Alan Barnes joining the band for a be-bop extravaganza! Salt Peanuts, Anthropology and Yardbird Suite were just some of the jazz standard favourites of the era that we covered...
I grew up in the 70's on the same road as this legendary music venue, and would ride my bike to stand outside and hear the likes of Stan Tracey and Don Weller, and it's still going strong. Standing room only at the Bulls Head, with Alex Hutton on piano, and Sandy Burnett on bass.
This last month have seen us back twice at the Thames Foyer on a Saturday night, with Alex Hutton on piano and Kate Winter, vocals. I can't get enough of this place. It has a really sophisticated atmosphere (just like our music) and steak sandwiches to die for, but best of all, this is a performance gig. We are not just background music. The clientele are attentive and give us song requests, show their appreciation and we are able to explore and improvise musically in a way that is uncommon in a hotel setting.
Last weekend was spent in the blistering heat at the huge Oxfordshire-based Glamping extravaganza: The Wilderness Festival! A marathon day, playing old-time jazz standards for Lindy Hop dancers in the Be All And End Hall in the afternoon and entertaining revellers and drinkers in the Sipsmith Gin Tent in the evening. With our MD and fine trumpeter Steve Coombe at the helm, we weathered the scorching temperatures in our immaculate suits. I was told Chic and Nile Rodgers were performing, but we were too busy pumping out Louis Armstrong to notice...
This afternoon's gig with the Sax Quartet (featuring the up-and-coming Royal Academy star, and regular headliner at Ronnie Scott's the Late, Late Show: Jim Gold on alto saxophone) was a joint 60th, wedding celebration and 21st birthday party: this family has had a lot going on recently! The setting was the 'back garden' of a beautiful house set in the rolling Surrey Countryside. There were old fashioned Fairground games for the entertainment of the guests and musicians alike.
It was a fantastic setting for tonights 4-hour marathon cocktail set: the Thames Foyer bar and restaurant in the heart of the Savoy Hotel, on the Strand, London. It was also an unusual instrument combination that was requested: piano, drums and vocals, with no bass! It actually worked very well, and we delved into some interesting jazz interpretations of modern pop classics, with a few Norah Jones tunes to keep things fresh and contemporary. On piano we had Alex Hutton, and on vocals, Kate Winter and myself, Matthew Skeaping on drums. Next week we look forward to playing for a few summer balls in the city...