There are times when professional jazz musicians come close to despair at the difficulty of making a living. Every year the music colleges unleash (I was going to say churn out) another generation of hungry, talented, heal-snapping individuals. To make matters worse, musicians don’t retire and on many occasions their last breath is into a horn.
But thankfully, there are musicians who challenge this negative view and who turn the defiance of economic logic into an elaborate art form. One such is Dave Hammer whose seventeen piece Big Band, Hot Orange, I saw at The Hideaway in Streatham, London (Sunday 8th January 2017).
The Hideaway, for a non-motoring denizen of West London like me, is a pain to get to. Since they closed down the coffee shop which fronted the venue, it has become even more hidden away than ever. But it’s well worth a visit. Everything about the design and layout is just right for this kind of music and it is popular – on this occasion it was almost full.
Hammer has managed to assemble the cream of London jazz talent by giving the musicians the chance to play music they love. The show got off to a rousing start with my favourite Charles Mingus tune, Fables of Faubus and carried on with a dazzling variety of styles including arrangements of One Note Samba, ‘Round Midnight and The Chicken.
To say some performers were outstanding would suggest others were out stood. And I would lazily choose those musicians whom I know and have worked with. So instead I leave you with a hearty recommendation.
It was Remembrance Sunday and Barbara had a Last Post to play in the morning. Walking to Shepherd’s Bush station with my guitar and cavaquinho, I stopped to watch the remembrance parade. There was a brass band to my right and a bagpiper to my left and I wished one of them would stop. To avoid offence I won’t say which one.
One of the things we try to remember to bring to Chico Chica gigs is a metal camera case which we call the shop. There are three items we sell: Mélangerie, our first CD, The Glow of Havana, a 10” vinyl release and a piano book written by Barbara Snow called Animal Jazz . This book, published by Edition HH, sells surprisingly well. After all, piano players are less numerous than listeners so one would expect this to be too niche.
- Sicily Restaurant, London November 11, 2016 at 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
- Sandgate Hotel, Folkestone November 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
- Bull’s Head, Barnes November 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm – 10:30 pm