Big House

Hello Big House dwellers!

Thursday was, well I can say it now, Clare's birthday :-) A lovely time we had, ending up - secret completely intact, thank you - at the Jailhouse to hear the Paul Richards trio with their infectious South American rhythms, lyrical guitar work and perfect interplay between the instruments. Even managed to sneak in a last minute birthday present with one of Paul's CDs :-)

Paul runs the jazz jam at the Brunswick in Hove if you're ever over that way

Friday went to see the production titled "Chalk" which ran for three nights at the Victoria Institute. It was written and performed by Simon Carter and dealt with the subject of dementia, a challenging topic to say the least. I am in no way qualified to offer a critique of the evening, all I can really say is how it resonated with me. At a performance level it was an incredible outpouring of emotional and physical energy that surpasses anything I've ever seen on the stage. I'm normally knackered after a gig; the nerves, the tension and the act of creating all make a demand on you energetically. But Simon should have been allowed to lie down for a week to recover from one performance, let alone get up and do it all again the next night!

I thought the play was really cleverly constructed, alternating between moments of hysteria and disorientation, to vivid flashbacks from chilhood and adolescence. The increasing blur between reality and memory world and the frustrations in communicating what was being experienced were all palpable. The disease itself was personified as an evil that no matter how successful can never claim the heart and soul of its victim, and most interestingly for me, an observation that I have encountered several times before, how successful music is in connecting directly to that heart and soul, serving as the trigger for moments of serenity and comfort. I have very little direct exposure to dementia, unlike Simon who had seen it work its evil through two relatives, but I felt from the play a sense of how it might be being experienced and how important are the sensory triggers, music in particular, in penetrating the veil it draws over the individual.

It wasn't easy, but it wasn't without a message of hope and dignity.

Not much else in terms of musical performance to report, mostly teeing up the events that are coming your way in March and April.

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the first of our Phoenix Big Band open rehearsals at the Norfolk Hotel. Just grab a drink from the Tap Room and wander up to the ballroom anytime between 7:30 and 9:30. Very informal, we'll just be rehearsing, so stay and listen as long as you like. Just be careful if you're moved to buy a round of drinks - there's 18 of us!

Quite fancy Steyning Jazz Club on Friday night Pete Long's tribute to Benny Goodman. Sounds like a great line up, in particular (for me), Colin Good who, it says, "is among the uniquely few [not sure how you can have uniquely few, but happy to let that go given what the unique few can do] pianists who can play in the style of the great Teddy Wilson". Teddy Wilson, sublime pianist, one of the best.

Sunday Mike & Mike are on the Cobbles, begging for our pain-au-chocolat once more. Looking like an 11:00 start which is fairly unusual for us, might need a strong coffee to go with it (note to catering department) :-)

And here are some of the events lining up for later in the month...

First up is Jazz @ the Vic on Thursday 10th March featuring Mr Salsa himself, Raul D'Oliveira. Raul played with us recently on the Valentine's gig so I took the opportunity of booking him while he was off-guard. You really must not miss this gig! That said, Stephen will be missing it as he's headed home to catch up with his folks for a while. But we're very fortunate to have found a drummer / percussionist who can step up to the heights at which Stephen operates. So welcome Sam Glasson. You really must not miss this gig!

Leaving the weekend to recover, you'll need some culture to get you back on course. Arts Junction is back on Monday 14th March at the Vic. Another set of intriguing contributors from the realms of poetry, music, theatre and art.

Simon Brett performing two of his own short plays.

Phil Gravett selecting his blues guitar from the rather extensive range that hang on his wall at home!

Jane Clarity alternating between Kate Bush and Janet Baker [my references I hasten to add, Janet might not make it] with the help of Paul Hunter who featured to great acclaim last month.

Jamie Minka and Michael Jevon mounting a co-exhibition in the Studio and providing some insight into their work during the interval.

If that's not enough to entice you along then I'll have to call Stephen and get him to cut short his holiday!

And finally... some music :-) James, our lovely sound engineer, has sent me the recording of the gig with Sarah Louise Harris last month, so I thought I'd share a track from that set with you. Just as a heads up, we're putting on a Big House evening on 23rd April at the Norfolk with special guest... Sarah Louise Harris. Have a listen to this and you'll see why!

Best wishes,


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