The offspring and I spent Friday lunchtime at the Keswick Jazz Festival, in the toujours charmant company of the Hot Antic Jazz Band. These purveyors of classic 1920s jazz were the first jazz band I ever heard – at my first jazz festival, back in 1986. (I was 14.) I found this photo recently, of my second encounter with them, in 1987 – possibly the first time I ever propped up a piano in an Edinburgh pub, but most certainly not the last…
For the second time, I managed to bring my seven-year-old twin sons to hear them – the last time was at the 2009 Keswick Jazz Festival. They loved the music (much of it was recorded on their Kiddizoom cameras), reckoned that pianist Martin Seck resembled Star Wars’ Han Solo (“though he has different hair”) and went straight to the piano when they got home. Well, they have a reputation to live up to: trumpeter Michel Bastide dedicated a number to them and said that they played like Willie “the Lion” Smith, a resemblance that so far has only been visual (wth props)..
The line-up of the Hot Antic has changed since I first got to know them, but Michel Bastide (trumpet) and Jean-Pierre Dubois (banjo & clarinet) – both pictured above – plus Christian Lefevre (tuba) are still at the band’s heart. Bernard Antherieu (clarinet & banjo) joined back in the early 1990s, followed by the afore-mentioned Martin Seck. Michel Bescont (saxophone & clarinet) is a brand new addition. In Keswick on Friday,they had Matthias Seuffert (clarinet & sax) as a special guest.
Here are some more pictures from a concert which included many tunes I’ve never heard them play before – Somebody Stole My Gal, You, Horse Feathers (no connection to the Marx Brothers film), Bright Boy Blues and Hot Feet among them – and as many familiar Antic numbers, including the glorious Morocco Blues, Okay Baby and The Charleston Is the Best Dance After All.
Apologies for the quality of the images – my new Panasonic Lumix is supposed to be great for photographing concerts but, frankly, it’s not. For motion picture recording, however, it’s superb. Looks like I’ll have to take two cameras to concerts I want to photograph and/or film.
The Germans took over for a few tunes: Matthias Seuffert and Martin Seck did some fantastic duets, notably on Wolverine Blues and I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say.
As ever, the band’s arrangements were stylish and fun and showed off the three clarinets or, in the case of the next picture, the vocal trio of Michel, Martin and Bernard. This might have been taken during their delightful rendition of another new addition to their repertoire – Three Little Words.
We didn’t have to burst a gut to catch the bus which connects with the train back to Glasgow this year, so we actually took in a little bit of Keswick. The Theatre By the Lake, where the Antics were playing, is the main venue in the jazz festival and it was lovely to step out from the over-heated venue and wander down to the lake. Every jazz festival should have one …