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Jazz can seem like a strange and arcane world to the uninitiated. Its heyday may well have been the 1940s and ’50s but artists and audiences today continue to delved into the genre from many directions. Digby Fairweather – who brings his swinging songbook show to The Cut, Halesworth on March 4 – was grafting in soul, dance and even avant-garde ensembles before turning pro.
Fleece Jazz at the Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel welcomes pianist Zoe Rahman on March 25. Zoe was a Royal Academy classical student with influences from Salsa to Bengali music before picking up the 1999 Perrier Young Musician award that launched a celebrated jazz career.
Further eclecticism is found scanning Grapevine’s jazz dates this month. A good starting point is in Bury St Edmunds where Tord Gustavsen’s Trio at The Apex will draw on Norwegian ancient hymns and modern electronica while Barb Jungr brings both European cabaret and America folk-rock into the genre.
Safer ground for some will be found in Snake Davis’s rootsy sax’n’soul at Bury’s Headhunters Club or the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars at Bury’s Theatre Royal. Cambridge’s Hot Numbers coffee house (Dale’s Brewery) has Sunday and Thursday jazz welcoming Gilad Atzmon’s hard-bop saxophone at the end of March, which not only experiments in Middle Eastern sounds but elsewhere is at home with major rock acts. The Modern Jazz Club meanwhile has local group the Alex Merritt Quartet.
In Colchester the Arts Centre Jazz Club is expecting Alec Dankworth’s World Spirit to cross the Straits of Gibraltar into Africa, South America and beyond to explore melodies from these and other continents from a jazz perspective. The traditional Colchester Jazz Club at Marks Tey on the other hand remains firmly on southern US soil. Over in Felixstowe the Pete Oxley-Nic Meier guitar duo, appearing at The Alex’s Jazz East, has been described as from Turkish panache to soundscapes of Latin America to English pastoralism. Brazilian Bossa is the theme of Georgia Mancio’s “Salud! Tom Jobim” at Ipswich Jazz Club at The California Club. A late booking at Milestones Jazz Club in Lowestoft is Norwich-based group Mammal Hands.
So the scan for jazz throws up a varied, international and fruitful offering this month. In Norwich, the regular Norwich Jazz Club at Maddermarket Theatre has the piano-led Emily Francis Trio although Dereham Jazz is currently on the search for new premises. A smattering of local sessions can be found across Norfolk but the city’s major theatres and venues have a noticeable absence of jazz this month: perhaps an imaginative jazz eclecticism might encourage them to reach into Norwich’s otherwise vibrant scene.
A final word is due to the BBC Big Band who delivered a history of swing to a delighted audience at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook – from Lionel Hampton and Glenn Miller through to Stan Kenton and a rare Jimmy Dorsey composition ‘The Great Lie’. The school’s own band opened the night with a grooving Quincy Jones number and later we were graced with the vocal talents of pupil Simone Roussouw.
Roger Morfey is a musician and promoter in Suffolk and Norfolk. Jazz Spot, a forum for events, news and discussion, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.