Saturday in the High Street…and all that jazz

Written by Jim Fletcher on .


Drummer Paul ('Spud') Spedding Drummer Paul ('Spud') Spedding Jazz at the Philharmonic, Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Jazz on the High Street. Where would you rather be?


Well, not a difficult question: Jazz at the Philharmonic started in 1944 and finished sometime in the eighties, Jazz on a Summer’s Day was a 1958 film.

Marlborough’s Jazz Festival is very much a current event, celebrated every year with increasing quality, attendance and enjoyment.

Being a relative newcomer to the event, having been a spectator and latterly a steward this is my personal take on the 2015 festival.

Where else would you want to be on Saturday lunchtime other than The Lamb where the Artesian Hall Stompers play every year.  Their traditional jazz makes me feel happy particularly when watching the lugubrious cult hero Paul (Spud) Spedding’s drumming.   There was even an encore on Sunday this year.

The Lamb and the Conservative Club are one end of the performance scale, small venues quite unsuitable for the big stars like Elkie Brooks or the Bratislava Hot Serenaders who need space and a stage - they both played the Priory Marquee - she on Saturday evening, they on Sunday.

It’s this variation that makes our festival a success.  A friendly pedestrian High Street with all kinds of fans strolling from gig to gig.  The rockers like Bob Bowles and Fit for Comfort and the cultured guitars of Gilmore ’n Jaz. Pedestrian might be inaccurate in the, “partially, sometimes closed but not quite because there’s no clear policy”, High Street.

The whole atmosphere from Friday to Sunday is friendly, happy and easy-going.  The fans can shop and drink, perhaps more of the latter but despite a 12-hour music day there were relatively few incidents.  And these more likely to be over-exuberance rather than anything worse.

Your average fan doesn’t exist. Jazz crosses every boundary.  If you like jazz you’re equal in age, social background, race or sex.  A love of Jazz binds even your traditional Marlburian in his salmon pink trousers, striped blazer and cravat (well, some of them) to the tattooed youth in shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt.

The headline act this year was Elkie Brooks.  I was stewarding elsewhere, but I’m told she was fabulous, still capable of a “performance” despite her years which, perhaps, could qualify her for one of Marlborough’s many planned homes for the less-than-young.

But, to conclude, a word about the organisation of our festival, it would be easy to over-regulate and to impose rules.  Not so for Lindsay Long and her deputy Roger Grant.  Managed with a light hand, a lot of friendly advice and a relaxed attitude makes the army of stewards a happy team, this transfers to the paying public.   Result:  another successful festival.

[And visit our 2015 Jazz Festival picture gallery.]