The Magnificent Severnside

Sunday 22nd April proved to be my first chance to see the Severnside Jazz band this year, previous gigs have clashed either with work or being on garden leave and needing to monitor my out goings more tightly, so with spring in my step (see what I did there….. …. oh alright please yourself), I made way down to the Wild Pig, formerly the Brooklands, and settled on a nearby table which unfortunately left my view o the stage mildly obscured by a pillar, but I didn’t mind as the acoustics are pretty good. The band wasn’t quite ready to start so I nipped to the bar and bought myself a pint of Salopian’s finest Hop Twister Ale (the cheque’s in the post). I returned to the function room just as the band launched into their opening number with was the “Darktown Strutter’s Ball”, a song I first heard on a budget CD called Fats Waller the Ultimate Collection which erroneously identified the number as “The Joint is Jumping”. I rapidly learnt the real name of the tune when it cropped up on compilations of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Harry Roy and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Anyway I am digressing, the number was a lively introduction to the evening and reminded me of how much I miss my regular Jazz nights. However, the night took a slight sombre turn as the band leader informed us that Griff Stephens (or is it Stevens?), the former leader of the band has passed away recently at the age of 92. I remember Griff from when I first started going to the Severnside and I always remember his distinctive outfits and wry hunour. After this sad note the band ventured into King Oliver territory with a number called “Just Gone”, a song title which could easily be applied to my love life…. or my respect for Landord’s called Ian.* This was followed by a number I am more familiar with from a more contemporary artist, “Darkness on the Delta”. I know this from an album by Cassandra Wilson which also features covers of The Band’s “The Weight” and Robert Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot”. Unlike the version by Ms Wilson this version was strictly instrumental with reedsman Bill Basey switching from Clarinet to Soprano Sax for it’s duration. The band announced a dip into a seasonal inspired number (I was half expecting an ironic inclusion of something “Winter Wonderland” which occurred in a blazing Summer and stuffy Marquee at Upton Jazz Festival many moons ago) which turned out to be an not entirely inappropriate “April Showers”. Malcolm Hogarth approached the microphone to introduce the following number and gave a short introduction of the piece which he informed was associated with the legendary Bix Beiderbecke and I thought it was going to be “In A Mist”, one of Bix’s own compositions and was a rare example of a recording of his piano playing, but no the number was “I’m More Than Satisfied”.

A more traditional number followed in the form of the “Bugle Boy March”, a number which was played virtually every gig by the Central City Jazzmen and Rod Chamber’s Louisianan Kiljoys at the Harp back in the day and as such my attention wandered slightly and I spotted Chris Etherington on an opposing table. The set close with a brace of numbers starting with a Nat King Cole associated number called “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” and featured Mr Basey downing his reeds at one point and indulging us with a vocal refrain which harkened back to the classic recording by Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band, sadly Basey didn’t do an Acker and make a jokey aside to audience that the ‘big Cadillac car’ was in fact a Morris Marina. The closing number for the set was that classic standard for the Isle of Apple trees otherwise known as “Avalon”. With the first set done and dusted here was the usual made rush for the loo and refills at the bar and I took my chance to catch up with a few people and gently push Jae Ryder’s gig Saturday 28th April in Frankwell at the Many Friends Café…. no I am not doing a plug there at all…

So here’s some music for you. I couldn’t find Acker Bilk’s version of “Gee Baby Ain’t I Glad to You” on YouTube or Dailymotion, so here we are with a much more modern version by Diana Krall

The second set opened with “Dippermouth Blues”, a name which as you may have guessed alludes to the great Louis Armstrong and this was followed by some Jelly Roll Morton Blues number which I totally missed the name of. In a total change of style again, Bill Basey picked up his Clarinet and we were informed that the next number was going to be a Django Reinhardt number and I correctly guessed that the number would be “Nuages”, for those of you who don’t speak French that is the French word for Clouds.
Sorry the video is a little off centre, due to my positioning it was hard to get a shot of the band.

This was followed by a song about Sian, well I would say that because it was called “Girl of my Dreams” though some might argue the opposite. This was seemingly a rhythm section number at first but towards the end of the number the rest of the band joined in. This was followed by what I assume was “Running Wild” as there is a rip in my notes here and all I having is -“ing W”, so I am making an educated guess there. The band signed out with lively rendition of a favourite of mine called “Basin Street Blues” and then by “Algier’s Strut”. This was capped by a coda of a few bars of the band’s signature tune which is the Fats Waller composition “Squeeze Me”- not to be confused with the Duke Ellington tune of similar title.

A nice relaxed evening after a busy couple of weeks with a good mix of mellow and hot numbers and it was a pleasant surprise to see a younger female face in the crowd (though I strongly suspect she was there as her Father’s driver).IMG_20180422_212327.jpg
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