Thursday, 29 September 2011

All That Jazz

Last weekend we went to the Festival of Jazz in Scarborough and what a fantastic experience it was. We have been jazz fans for longer than we care to remember and Jim has more Cd's than he can play - in fact, he collects albums like I collect books. I attended the festival with Jean (my friend) last year so I guess I knew we were in for a treat. Jim's attitude, as is his wont, was 'let's just wait and see' but he was more than delighted with the standard of  musicianship.

We stayed in one the Sands Luxury Apartments which  it would be fair to say are well appointed but not particularly well sound proofed or, at least ours wasn't. We had a fantastic view - see above but it's the part of the beach which is accessible to dogs during the day. This inevitably meant we had early morning dog barking wake ups! We are canine lovers so it wasn't a big deal but it could be for some.

We left Sheffield around noon on Friday and arrived in Scarborough around 3.30pm. We had stopped off for lunch on the way - we all like to eat and it shows! The evening session began around 7pm with the Hadouk Trio and we weren't disappointed. The sound they make as you can hear is breathtaking and it would be fair to say we were all blown away metaphorically speaking. Even our friend Tony, who really had come along as chauffeur and who, isn't into jazz at all enjoyed them. To put this into perspective one his running jokes is that the best act at a jazz concert is the interval! The other two acts were good but these guys were fantastic!

The following day we arose bright and early and went for a walk and coffee and then went back to The Spa for the afternoon sessions. Again some brilliant artists but the standout was Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Express.  Gilad is a Hebrew speaking Palestinian and he has lots to say on the current political situation in Israel. Some of what he had to say was uncomfortable to hear and I wasn't sure about using the occasion as a platform but...? I found out that he used to play with The Blockheads and that he'd not only recorded with Ian Drury but also with Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor and Robbie Williams. I do hope he doesn't leave jazz for politics because that would be a real loss to music lovers.

Inspired by what we'd heard we sped off to sample some of the best ever fish and chips which we washed down with a nice little Sauvignon. Then we returned for the evening session. Now I can understand that if you don't like jazz this could all seem a little monotonous but when you're listening to acts of the calibre of the Mina Agossi Trio then I can assure you that time stands still. Mina is a very unusual songstress who in my opinion makes some fabulous sounds.


For me though the stand out act of the night was The David Rees-Williams Trio. They originally hadn't been on the programme but had replaced Jacques Loussier who had been taken ill, however, they didn't feel like a substitute at all. Listen to their sound and you'll get what I mean. If you like classical music as I do then listen to the clip the classical/jazz combination is a rare treat.

We felt so hyped up after such a wonderful night we couldn't sleep so we stayed up talking about the various acts but also acknowledging how lucky we were to be able to be there and have such wonderful experiences. When we woke up the following day there had been a change in the weather and the view looked rather dismal if somewhat atmospheric

but I had arranged to meet twitter mate @philcovers so after a good breakfast and with a spring in my step and carrying my umbrella off  I went with my friend Jean to The Glass House. When Chris turned up on his bike I knew him instantly and he me - in fact his opening gambit was 'you look like your photo'. He'd very kindly brought me a gift of some apples he'd just picked - as he put it 'nature's fast food' and I bought him a peppermint tea.  We chatted away on various subjects but mainly about Chris, his exploits and his view of life. In fact he helped me to think that retirement is no bad thing. All too soon we had to say au revoir so we could meet with our spouses for another feast of Jazz - and this dear friends is where we saw a performance to end all performances. It was by a 14 year old boy genius playing in the eponymously named Andreas Varady Quartet.

I cannot begin to tell you how I felt watching this wonderful musician. I was amazed at his ability and his panache. His father plays rhythm guitar with the quartet and I can only imagine the pride he feels playing with this golden boy. When the gig was over we were just gobsmacked and of course he was mainly the subject of our dinner conversation.

We did return that night for the final session but after Andreas is was rather an anticlimax which was a shame. If they had used him to close the festival  it would have been really something. Instead they played it safe with the saxophonist compere Alan Barnes.

Now Barnes is a fab player so I'm not disrespecting him but that boy was something else. However, when we walked out of The Spa we were all of the same opinion which was we would return next year for another Scarborough feast of all that jazz!


  1. Really enjoyed your post B!
    Some great tunes too!
    I'm really tempted to drag the present Mrs Evans along to the festival next year ;-)

  2. Thanks Bob - I hope you do it would be great to meet up x