Long live Live Jazz
The great American drummer and bandleader Art Blakey used to say – you only hear live music once! And it’s largely true, even if some bandleaders insisted on their musicians playing the music exactly as written and recorded, including any solos! Even to listen to the same tunes recorded by the same musician shows that the best rarely play the same tune the same way twice – Lee Konitz, the alto saxophonist now in his nineties, is an excellent example, basing one of the largest recording histories in jazz mainly on a limited number of songs from The Great American Songbook. How jazz musicians feel on the day, their relationship with their fellow players and any audience, the atmosphere in the room in which they are playing all affect what one hears them play.
Which is why I was inevitably a little disappointed at having to cancel a trip to Ronnie Scott’s to hear the great Mingus Big Band, one of the few bands which I would now pay good money and travel some way to hear. I’d heard them before some years ago in Paris at the New Morning Club – the French equivalent of Scott’s – and the memories are still vivid. And whilst I have recordings of them playing live, it is not the same as being there. Organised by Sue Mingus, the band keeps alive the music of the great bassist, Charles Mingus, who, along with Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, was one of the great jazz composers of the twentieth century. If a little smoother in its playing than many of the original Mingus groups, the Big Band still manages to capture the spirit and edginess of Mingus’ music.
So the chance to hear jazz played live is not one a fan should dismiss too easily. Market Harborough is fortunate in that the Harborough Jazz Club, which presents live jazz ten months of the year at The Angel Hotel, manages to offer some outstanding sessions – but don’t bother too much to find out more, since the House Full signs are normally displayed, membership is closed with a waiting list, the aficianados having long discovered the virtues of this little club. Live jazz can also be hear in some of the local pubs and restaurants, and whilst the Enigma café has ended its monthly jam session, the session has moved to a gig at Louisa’s Place on the last Thursday of the month, starting in October. Local amateur and semipro musicians from the region come together for a couple of hours to play jazz – usually around a familiar group of tunes which everybody knows. With anything up to a dozen or more musicians ready and eager to play, one gets to hear a mixture of sounds, and no two sessions are the same! So give the cds a rest and get out and support our local talent!