Tuesday, 6 August 2013


I had an out-of-sorts sort of night. Partly my own fault we all have prejudices and I should do more to suppress mine. I can’t stand ‘Trad Jazz’ –I think it’s a peculiarly English thing, this desire to recreate the music of New Orleans in the 1920’s, usually somewhere in berkshire. I’m a modernist with all that involves; Be-bop, left wing politics, a certain style, a certain attitude. It’s punk but it’s cool. At the end of the day its about who you are.

When I got to the Jazz Club at the Red Lion,Isleworth there were the instruments all set up, primed and ready. There was a trombone, the symbol of all I can’t stand.

It’s a prejudice and I’m not proud of it. Mark Nightingale plays it very well indeed, and not a hint of a bowler hat, a waistcoat, let alone the dreaded oompah! It’s still a problem for me. It’s not him, it’s that thing.

The two people I was chatting with, of course, took Mark’s side and wound me up. We put together my ideal line up for a night of ‘modern jazz’ – two trombones, a banjo, a Tuber and three guys with handheld snare drums. Heck, it’s a marching band. All it needs is a Sousaphone and we’re away.

Then we got on to Nick Weldon – I love his style on the keyboards, very sparse, very precise, the bluenotes like shards of glass. We agreed to disagree on that style. Andrew Cleyndert on double bass and Trevor Tomkins were on the button as ever.

Alan Barnes always fills the room and not just with his sound – the baritone sax came out a lot tonight. One of my companions gave me a tourists guide to the entire range of saxophones – which I’ve forgotten, again. I think he said that Alan was playing the Alto too. Anyway he had a small one which definitely wasn’t a soprano and a great big one.

I forgot my pen and my photos didn’t come out. So, I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself too.

Next week is special – Art Themen, a quartet and some memories of very tough times. I won’t be missing that, I hope. And definitely no Sousaphones.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)  
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