2014 Marlborough International Jazz Festival
(Marlborough Wiltshire, 18-20 July 2014. Round-up by Tamsin Collison)
For one mad weekend in July, the Jazz Festival comes to town. Public spaces all over Marlborough in Wiltshire are transformed into impromptu venues, music pours out of every door.
Founded in 1986 by the redoubtable Nick Fogg, the Marlborough International Jazz Festival has been going for nearly thirty years, and as its reputation has grown, so has the breadth of programming it offers. This year there were over 60 acts on the Saturday bill, plus a further 25 on the Friday night. and Clare Teal headlining on the Sunday. Marlborough embraces local talent and world-famous names with equal enthusiasm, juxtaposing big bands, small bands, old bands, new bands, local bands, international bands and jazz royalty. All you need to do is buy yourself a ticket and dive in.
The highlight on the bill for me this time was the Bratislava Hot Serenaders, an old-school 18-piece orchestra specialising in 1920s ‘hot jazz’, led by trumpeter Juraj Bartoš, and featuring a close-harmony girl trio and two male crooners (one of whom was a dead ringer for UK bandleader Carol Gibbons). The band earned a rapturous standing ovation for their dazzling performance of Rhapsody in Blue, played in competition with a torrential cloudburst drumming on the roof, which threatened to drown them out and, quite possibly, to demolish their marquee. (With accidentally brilliant comic timing, the following number was Outside It’s Raining…)
Other acts I caught on Saturday included ebullient drumming maestro Sticky Wicket and his Swing Orchestra; New Yorker Daryl Sherman, channeling the late great Blossom Dearie and recalling life as resident pianist at New York’s Algonquin Hotel; rising contemporary jazz sextet Metamorphic; the ever-entertaining Red Stripe Band (in their 20th year at Marlborough); Roger Winslet‘s classy tribute to Chet Baker; the jazz vocal ensemble Take Twenty; vocalist/bassist Nicola Farnon‘s trio; and George Haslam’s New Tricks, featuring Bobby Wellins, Steve Waterman and co. For me, a great evening was wound up with a gig of my own, in the company of Geoff Castle, Andy Cleyndert and Paul Cavaciuti. It was certainly a pretty eclectic range of musicians to find on a single High Street, but there’s room for all sorts. And everyone who plays at Marlborough enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and the friendly, appreciative audiences.