Manly Jazz Festival

I spent a few hours yesterday on the north side of the bridge for the last day of the Manly Jazz Festival.

Okay, I’m not the world’s biggest jazz fan. In fact, I find much of it to be boring, over-intellectual wankery. But it was free, it was outdoors, and I like supporting community-based arts events. It was certainly a good vibe, probably because it was the only day where it wasn’t streaming rain.

There were several tents set up along the beaches and the corso. I caught bits of the Sydney All Stars Big Band (with Doug Parkinson, who did a great rendition of “You Can Leave Your Hat On”), the Jane Irving Quartet, and the Jo Fabro Group. Fabro had a really impressive voice, though her songs weren’t the most engaging. There were also snippets of wandering jazz acts and school bands.

A week of non-stop jazz across the UK: the NeverEndingSong

Restaurant chain Pizza Express have always supported jazz music; it makes a gentle and comforting background to their just-classy-enough middle-of-the-road market position.

Now they’re setting some musicians out on the road to play a jazz riff around the clock for seven days. They’ll tour the UK, picking up improvisers along the way.

An incredibly talented group of jazz musicians will perform a specially created piece of music non-stop, 24 hours a day for seven days as they tour the length and breadth of Britain.

With this being jazz, the ‘song’ will continually evolve as it’s shaped by collaborations with local talent from the cities and regions it passes through: London, Brighton, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh.

I know I’ve listened to some jazz that made it feel like it’d been going on forever. But I heard the start of the NeverEndingSong this morning on Radio 4 and it sounded pleasant enough, with lots of space for variation and additions.

Come to Ealing: tons of live music in a park for £1

Ealing Summer is one of the great annual events in this borough. If you’ve not been here yet this year you’ve already missed the comedy and opera nights. In September you can catch the Literary Festival.

But starting tomorrow are the popular music events in Walpole Park. If you’ve got nothing good on this weekend, take the Central Line out west, sit in the park (or stay in the tents if it’s raining), and have a listen.

Tomorrow, Saturday 19-July, from 2pm to 10:30pm, is the Blues Festival. There are two stages to choose from, with acts like The Dani Wilde Band, Funkdory, Amrit Sond and clapalong favourites The Guv’nors. Check the link for a full list. And you can stay all day for just £1 (kids under 12 get in free).

On Sunday 20-July it’s the Global Festival. Once again there are two stages of music from 2pm until 10:30pm, with Radio Revolución, Zywiec (what, the Polish beer?), BOSforUS, Discipulos De Otilia, and plenty more.  Once again: you can get in for just £1.

Then from Wednesday 23-July to Sunday 27-July you get the Jazz Festival. Every weekday evening (and all afternoon too on the weekends) you get two stages of live music. Check the link because they start at different times each night. As before, each night is only £1.

There’s a lot of tunes there for very little cash. The park is a nice setting, and not too big. As for all these things there’s always lots of beer and food on sale inside.

And put 10-August in your calendar, because that’s the London Mela: a massive and excellent celebration of south Asian music, food, and culture.

Photo from Paul Robinson via Creative Commons license

Spring bloggers meetup + jazz

I stopped by another meetup of the London Bloggers social group last night. It was at the same location – the upstairs function room of Soho’s Coach & Horses pub – as last month, a good spot for it.

I had nice (although some too brief) chats with bloggers I’d met at earlier events, like meetup organiser Andy from Marketing Blagger (who was a bit under the weather last night), blogger-of-all-trades Tiki Chris, fellow chocoholic Francine, fellow Qyper Siany, Peter from My London Diary, and working-on-a-Wordcamp Tony.

There were plenty of new folks, too (or, at least, folks I met for the first time), and I spent at least a moment talking to Mehrdad about his clever image blog, Paul from affilinet, the life-loving (but sometimes contemplative!) Epicurienne, work-blogger Rajesh, Pat from music biz blog The Lip Service Journal, dark beige comedy blogger Matt, Cristiano on Tech/Life, and shamanic counsellor, healer, and soul retriever Zoë. Blogger meetups are certainly not uniform affairs.

After a couple of drinks I took my leave and jumped a bus to head down Oxford Street. My friend Bec had tipped me about a free-admission jazz night at a club near Bond Street tube station, so I thought I’d check it out on my way home.

I’d never been to Corks Wine Bar before. It’s a small, funky underground club. It looks like they usually have R&B, funk, and house music nights through the week, but last night was an open jazz night.

It was nearly empty when I got there, but the band – saxophone, trumpet, drums and keyboard – were swinging. As I looked around it appeared that the handful of others there were almost all other musicians themselves, waiting their turn for a set. And sure enough, they’d each in turn get up and do a tune or two: one woman played tenor sax, another guy sat in for the drums, a bass player joined. It was fun, loose, very jazzy, and a friendly feel. I couldn’t stay very long, but I enjoyed what I heard. If jazz nights become a regular fixture at Corks then I’ll go again (although based on last night’s attendance that might be unlikely).