Jollying along the New Year and a Steaming Hot New CD on the horizon.

I've spent quite a lot of the new year working on the mixing and graphics of the New Oxford Classic Jazz CD, which will shortly hit the shelves of music shops all over the world (-;

It is entitled “Put t' kettle on, lad!” and you will be able to buy it for just £10 by contacting me by email, FB or phone: 07932 748379. It will provide a perfect accompaniment to a private tea party – the perfect antidote to Brexit Blues!

It was hard to decide, but in the end we decided to use the more sobre photo (below) for the back of the CD.

In spite of two members of the trio being unwell and unable to attend, the year's first gig at the Harcourt Arms went rather well. Jake Gill filled in at short notice and dazzled the punters with his fine acoustic guitar chugging away like the reassuring engine of a Mississippi paddle steamer, providing a solid foundation for the more fluid meanderings of the piano, while his trained baritone voice soared like a golden eagle over the heads of the audience, causing even the most hardened drinkers to gaze wistfully heavenwards, pint glasses suspended motionless before mouths open in astonishment at the rich tones wafting through their ears.

At the end of the evening the straw boater had accumulated a fine collection of coins and notes, including a brownie from the landlord, which bodes well for the future. Hat money may be the key to classic jazz musician survival. I wonder what style of hat would look most inviting to someone caught in two minds as to whether to contribute? Answers on a postcard (or comment), please.

Two days later I drove off to Witney to provide a sing-along at a retirement home. It was a more subdued affair than usual. One of my biggest fans did not manage a single warble, having lapsed into that almost continuous sleep that sometimes precedes death with a contented, resolved sort of half smile on his face. I guess if you can end up sleeping 23 hours a day, there's a good chance you'll die a peaceful death in your sleep.

Another of my usual singers was in an altogether more agitated state. He was in some sort of half state between sleep and consciousness, but constantly crying out some deeply troubled undecipherable phrases. Another old lady was plaintively calling out “please help me, please...”

This situation called for some serious jollying along so that the forces of death and despair would not have it all their own way. Onto the existential battlefield I brought the great songs of Richard Rogers, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. And then without dilly-dallying, a wave of Cockney Favourites, a lovely bunch of pub favourites followed by Daisy and legions of her Victorian Music Hall foot soldiers, finishing with The Lambeth Walk, the last of which raised a poignantly feeble “Oi!” from the audience, which was now calmer and slightly engaged with the joyful musical nonsense being inflicted upon it.

For a moment troubles were packed up into old kit bags. For a moment we had the blues on the run. For a moment we smiled and the whole world smiled with us. And then it was time to leave them to their long sleep, perchance dreaming of youthful romances that started in the dance halls of Oxfordshire, walking home arm in arm through meadow and farm, 'neath the starry sky.

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