In spite of the nation’s extraordinary decision in June, we now readily adopt European habits such as the August vacation. So there’s not so much on this month, although Hot Numbers at Dale’s Brewery in Cambridge is to be commended for its five different jazz offerings in August.
A fellow musician tried to warn me that ‘most pubs don’t see jazz as a popular music… we play jazz numbers but we never call it jazz’. He went on: ‘These days people tend to think of jazz fans as a small group of mainly older people sitting in a jazz club with one drink that lasts them the whole evening!’ It’s certainly unfortunate that most occasional pub-jazz fits the stereotypes of easy dinner-jazz, singer tributes, or Trad with straw boaters in a summer garden. Nothing wrong with that, but there are and have been across the region pubs and their management that have supported regular (usually monthly) jazz sessions for many years.
While August may have become a quiet month, be prepared for a rip-roaring start to September with the now well-established Jazz Weekender over the 2nd to 4th, hosted by Norwich Jazz Club and spread across venues in the city. This true celebration of modern jazz is worth a sneak preview as there are dates to get into your post-holiday diary (see www.norwichjazzclub.co.uk for details):
* Late Jazz Jam at Platform 12 Piano Bar: The ever-changing face of St Benedicts Street is becoming the late-night soul of the city, Soho-style, with this club session till 2am.
* Resolution 88 at The Club Room, OPEN: Hard funk-jazz in the spirit of the Headhunters and M-Base hfrom this five-piece band
* EPIC Studios, Magdalen Street: Norwich’s other creative quarter boasts an enormous venue that will host a big band with James Tormé (son of Mel), but hopefully more jazz in its programme in future.
There’s a great full line-up to look forward to, but it is telling that a major city pub would not seem to be supporting this Jazz Weekender. Maybe city and town pubs are missing a trick given both the preponderance of the baby boomer population and the pounds in their pockets. An acquaintance of that generation – children of the Sixties, remember – wanted to get up and dance to Gilad Atzmon’s Middle Eastern rhythms, not just sit politely sipping wine. The ‘old’ jazzer image, I suggest, has itself become passé.