Monday, 8 August 2011

Burton Agnes Jazz Festival

I spent the weekend at the Burton Agnes Jazz festival. Burton Agnes is a Yorkshire village centred on an 800-year-old stately home, which is currently kept in very good shape by the current owners. It has some beautiful gardens, a vegetable patch in a walled garden that would put any allotment to shame, ornamental ponds, a maze and woodland walk, and a jazz festival. What more could you want? Well, good weather I guess. However, because it was raining a lot of the time I spent an hour in the main house looking at the paintings. Well worth a trip just for that. A very good collection of impressionists in a beautiful setting.
The sun did shine, some of the time, but it also rained a lot of the time. Fortunately, the stage was well protected and there was a big beer tent and tea tent, which between them were able to keep the crowd dry.
The big attraction, from my point of view was Saffron Byass, my son in law’s sister; I presume that makes her a relative of some sort. Short clip filmed with my Iphone attached.
There were a number of other acts including Jaqui Dankworth, though I thought her set was more suited to an intimate nightclub rather than a large well-groomed field with echoes off the stately home in the background. There were rather loud acts towards midnight that sounded quite good from 300 yards away inside my campervan.
One thing I did find interesting was that almost every act had guitars in their line up. My memories of jazz go back to the early sixties when Chris Barber and Acker Bilk were regulars around Bristol and I once saw Miles Davis. Actually, Miles Davis was utterly brilliant. He had Himself on trumpet, Sonny Stitt on clarinet and alto sax, Paul Chambers on double base and Jimmy Cobb on drums and I think, Wynton Kelly on piano. It was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to so it’s hardly fair to compare anyone with that. My point is that there was never a guitar in sight. In the two days I was at Burton Agnes, I didn’t hear one trombone, trumpet or clarinet. OK so I missed some acts, but it must be some measure of the way that the electric guitar has developed that it can now fill the space left by almost any other instrument.


  1. That sounds like a wonderful weekend. I'd never heard of Burton Agnes so I looked it up. I'd love to visit!

    I looked Saffron Byass up on youtube. I particularly liked a song on there, 'company'.

  2. Hi Rod,

    Very interesting to read your blog and particularly your comments about electric guitars (I'm the guitarist in Saffron's group by the way...) Although we didn't play a particularly jazz orientated set at Burton Agnes (as it was mostly Saffron's original material) I have to agree that a lot of the more traditional jazz instruments seem to be missing in many groups these days, which I think is a bit sad. Much as I love guitar, I still adore great trumpet, trombone and saxophone playing. I also wish I'd seen Miles with that line-up!..must have been incredible.

    Many thanks for posting the clip too!...

    Kind Regards

    Pete (Sklaroff)

  3. Pete, thanks for that. Not the best recording ever, but an iPhone at 100 yards is not the best recording instrument. I had to crop the video because people kept walking across the picture looking slightly bizarre. I haven't found out how to take the sound off and use it separately. I found I could move the sound around and stick it to a bit of the video that looked innocuous, then I had to repeat the vid a couple of times to get it the right length for the sound I had. I'm looking forward to hearing the album when it comes out.

  4. Thanks Rod,

    I've been having a look online to see if there are any other video clips from the gig, but so far it's just this one, which was great to hear. Saffron's material is fun to play so I really hope you like the album when it comes out. She's very talented and a pleasure to work with.

    All the best,