For someone who spent the better part of his life venturing no more than a hundred miles from his birthplace, I’ve traveled a great deal since 2004, most of my peregrinations courtesy of and beside the Beloved, the world’s finest travel companion.
And we’d already made plans to go to the 2009 Jazz at Chautauqua in September (where we’ll hear and meet Dan Barrett, Marty Grosz, Duke Heiger, Becky Kilgore, Andy Brown, Petra van Nuis, Jon-Erik Kellso, James Dapogny, Bob Reitmeier . . . need I say more) — that delightful party situated amidst the lovely leaf-strewn walks and cottages of Chautauqua, New York.
But as my faithful readers know, I have never been to a British jazz party, although some of the jazz musicians I revere are European. So when I read about July’s Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, run by trumpeter Mike Durham, my pulse rate increased and I began to fantasize. Bent Persson, Frans Sjostrom, Matthias Seuffert, Spats Langham, Nick Ward, Martin Wheatley, Jacob Ullberger, Michael McQuaid, the Red Hot Reedwarmers, Rene Hagmann, Norman Field, the West Jesmond Rhythm Kings . . .people I’ve admired so much on Stomp Off, Kenneth, and other CDs.
Initially I simply wanted to go in the way that people would like to do something. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear all these musicians I’ve only heard on record and CD? But it would be so far away. It would be inconvenient (flying is not my passion); it would cost a great deal; the Beloved had larger plans for a UK tour — involving things beyond staying in a hotel for four days listening to jazz from noon to midnight. So I put it aside in the corner of my mind where the things I want to do but have some doubts about aleep at night.
Then it hit me — I can’t say I sat up in bed or had to pull over to the side of the road on the way to work. I wasn’t knocked out of my saddle. But I have been teasingly saying to friends for the past two years that the Beloved and I have incorporated to form the CARPE DIEM TRAVEL AGENCY (deep discounts, experienced planning, an easy payment plan).
But the nagging question formed itself over and over in my mind: “What if I should die and never have heard the Hot Jazz Trio (Persson, Sjostrom, and Ullberger) live, not on CDs?” It was too painful to envision. Two days ago, I booked my flight — an extravaganza of airplanes and airports beyond belief — and I just gave the Village Newcastle (the hotel where the festival takes place) my credit card information.
I’m coming! And my head surely isn’t bending low. If any blog-readers are going to be at Whitley Bay (and I cannot, for the life of me, see how anyone could resist the lineup), please let me know. Perhaps you can guide me to a portion of fish and chips that won’t stop my heart by the second bite, perhaps I can find some American CDs you’ve been searching for. Or something equally friendly and enlivening.
That lineup and more is posted at http://www.whitleybayjazzfest.org