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Lazy Sunday Jazz on the Lawn

We’ve had endless online gigs and now more outdoor gigs are proceeding which means live music is slowly starting to crawl back into the light and the glorious weather is undeniably helping.

Music in the Gardens’ is of course an ideal event to comply with the COVID restrictions while having fun. And what a delightful venue Helmingham Hall is. A stunning location with stunning weather for a relaxed Sunday afternoon listening to live music.

Safety precautions were in place and the large grass area in front of the performance area was marked out in the 2m squares to help us all be safe (why can’t they do something similar on the beaches?).

Doors opened early, which meant you could spend time wandering the gorgeous gardens then get yourself a square for a summery picnic. I went with one other household had a scrummy picnic and fortunately there was a nice breeze to keep us cool.

DixieMix began with a couple of tracks before a bit of chat. As the band name suggests, they are a Dixie Land jazz band and playing tracks throughout the early decades of New Orleans jazz and I’d like to add….with a bit of an East Anglian twist. No, not a Suffolk twang, it means they make the tracks their own with their skilled musicianship and warm energy.

A mix of tracks such as Percy Venable’s ‘Big Butter Egg Men’, Fats Waller’s ‘Honeysuckle Rose’, Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger on the Shore’, George Lewis ‘‘St Phillip Street Breakdown’, ‘Basin Street Blues’, ‘Pennies from Heaven, ‘Bei Mr Bistu Shein’,‘Wonderful World’ and more.

I purposely sat centrally to the music area to get the balance of sound and it carried very well across the green with it not too loud. A good mix of quick and slow tracks and of course some improvisation going on but the flow was well practiced and executed with ease. Their light-hearted approach to the music allowed the smooth sounds to ebb effortlessly through the breeze of the afternoon.

I was planning on detailing the sounds of each instrument, however there were many and I don’t have enough word count, nonetheless we were treated to many wonderful sounds from their large arsenal of well-played, and well-loved instruments. Simon kept us entertained with his banter and engagement and Tony sang a couple too.

All the band members are talented and play more than one instrument which added to the variety of delightful sounds. They individually had their chances at solo work which was a continuous joy to the ears and when they played together it was superb. It was their first gig in a while and their enjoyment came through in bounds.

DixieMix Jazz Band played with such confident smoothness it added to the relaxed nature of the afternoon. It wasn’t a short gig and as the afternoon turned into evening the audience were lapping up every note.

It was a small crowd, people are still apprehensive of getting out but those who made the effort were rewarded with a great memory of a superb afternoon. For a few hours, we had completely forgotten about the C-word and remembered what good music does to the soul.