A wonderful – and somewhat wet -- launch for Marlborough’s jazz festival

Written by Gerald Isaaman on .

Cheggers opening the 2012 Marlborough Jazz FestivalCheggers opening the 2012 Marlborough Jazz FestivalThe biggest and the best ever, insisted TV presenter Keith Chegwin, who performed the opening honours in his irresistible upbeat style.

And there was no doubt about that for the supporters of Marlborough’s International Jazz Festival as they braved ominous rain clouds for the launch last night (Friday) outside the Castle and Ball Hotel.

They gathered in the High Street with umbrellas prepared and wearing raincoats and wellies as Cheggers, as he is known to children galore addicted to his Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore shows.

St Johns School Jazzband on the back of a draySt Johns School Jazzband on the back of a drayAnd he was soon giving away baseball caps and T-shirts as prizes for an impromptu quiz, one of the unexpected moments after his last last-minute invite to appear as the celebrity of the occasion.

That was after Nick Fogg, twice mayor of Marlborough who founded the jazz festival 26 years ago, revealed that Marlborough came under the protection of a friendly nun despite the fact that it was Friday the 13th and St Swithin’s was was imminent too.

Had “Sister Maria Assumpta has been on the case down in Kent...bring your bikinis tomorrow,” he told them – and the event proved rain-proof for half an hour before the torrents came crashing down.

But by then Cheggers had introduced Nick’s better half, his wife Edwina, this year’s diamond jubilee mayor of Marlborough, in her full regalia. “Is that the mayor, I thought it was Jimmy Crankie!” he joked to the crowd.

It gave her a unique opportunity to thank “my mayoress” for all immense work for in founding such an amazing festival and to tell the crowd: “This is just the start of my welcome.  You are a small sample of the thousands of people who will  be here in our town to celebrate one of the highlights in our Marlborough calendar.”

“We have had a great number of celebrations already this year and tonight we shall be listening in the big marquee to Echoes of Ellington.”

“This is going to be amazing as it is going to be the UK premiere of the Queen’s Suite that Duke Ellington wrote having met our beautiful Queen when he was here in 1958.”

Have a wonderful time everybody.”

And back from Cheggers came the echo: “It is a fantastic festival.  And this year it is bigger and better with over 100 bands from 18 different countries, a festival truly renowned.  So get involved and really enjoy it.”

And before the deluge came there was time for the first festival music from two youth bands – the Jazzports and the St John’s School jazz band under the direction of Clemency Whiting, who arrived on the back of a Fullers dray pulled by two horses.

But they didn’t play On the Sunny Side of the Street.