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Friday, October 15, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air at The Fell with the NEW CENTURY RAGTIME ORCHESTRA

Jim McBriarty, Alan Marshall, Gavin Lee, Steve Andrews (reeds).
Tom Cook, Caroline Stephen (cornets)
Don Fairley (tmb). Neville Hartley (pno), Phil Rutherford (sousa), Keith Stephen (gtr/bjo), Emma Fisk (vln), Steve Doyle (dms) - Caroline Stephen (nee Irwin) - (vocal).
After last night's 'Free Fiasco' (from my point of view - others may view the Emperors new wardrobe differently) tonight was an antidote and, in some respects, a very pleasing one.
The New Century gang had a couple of deps in but, when one of them is Emma Fisk and the other is Stevie Doyle, I had no complaints - would you?
The band were in good fettle and it was great to drop back in time and enjoy Duke's The Mooche, Caroline singing Am I Blue? and You'd Be Surprised, Jim crooning, among others, Paddling Madeline Home. Gavin playing an ancient simple system clarinet and sounding good.
The first set over I applauded as loudly and as lustily as anyone in the VERY well attended room.
What I love about the Fell, apart from the jazz, is the audience who just love to dance and a dancing audience creates such a good feel.
Nobody danced Thursday night!
Now the downside.
Ron Pollard, who has run Jazz At The Fell for over 16 years, announced that he was faced with losing the venue as the Cricket Club weren't happy. I'm not going to go into details - that is up to Ron to make a further statement either here or/and on the club's own website.
If this happens it would pose questions that demand answers.
Throughout the region venues such as The Fell, Blaydon, Ashington, The Corner House, Jazz Café, the Chilli, the Saville Exchange, and others promote weekly/monthly sessions often with name guest artists/bands yet operate with little or no outside funding. Is this right? Should arts funding not begin at grass roots level rather than the limited appeal of some of the imported acts?
In a perfect world we should have both but, as perfect worlds are hard to come by, wouldn't it make sense to cut down on some of the 'lossleaders' and support the groundfloor?
You may argue that The Splinter series at the Bridge and at Darlington Arts does that but they are but two venues joined at the hip - if you'll pardon the pun.
These are just some thoughts that crossed my mind as I went from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Lance

1 comment :

Roly said...

I think you make some fair points Lance. Food for thought and an opportunity for local jazz fans views. Anyway it was a grand night at The Fell - what a lovely enterprise the NCRO is. I know what a lot of work goes into this. All credit to Dave Kerr, who is constantly researching early jazz and working on new arrangements, to Phil Rutherford who manages the gig/promo side of things and all the others who are dedicated to their music. If there was some way of allocating a bursary to help with costs it would be fitting I think. There are hardly any bands like this around any more and it takes a heck of a lot of organising. They deserve it!
Roly

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