There’s still a week left of the Newbury Spring Festival 2016 and plenty of events to be enjoyed – everything from the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers to London Brass and Savitiri Grier to The Marian Consort with ‘Breaking the Rules’ – at a variety of venues in and around Newbury.
I almost overdosed on jazz at the Festival last week. Within the space of 17 hours I attended John Etheridge’s Sweet Chorus followed, fairly swiftly, by the Alexander Bone Trio. And I’m very glad I did.
Both were performing at the Corn Exchange and both were absolutely brilliant. First up was John Etheridge’s Sweet Chorus. With the legendary guitar skills of the man himself, John Etheridge’s passion for music shone through in a set that lasted way beyond the estimated finish time of 9.30pm. The audience did not want them to go home. Alongside John were the masterful Dave Kelbie and Andy Crowdy whose skills on the rhythm guitar and double bass respectively were understated and beautiful. Almost stealing the show, though, was Christian Garrick, whose violin sang to the audience and added and edge to the evening that was much applauded.
The next day I had the pleasure of seeing the Alexander Bone Trio as part of Newbury Spring Festival’s Young Artists Lunchtime Recital series. These three young men are already magnificent musicians and at such a young age their futures in the world of music must shine extremely brightly.
Alexander Bone has a quiet confidence that belies his years; and if you love the sax you have to love how this young man handles the instrument. Joe Lee on bass guitar was perhaps the unsung hero of the hour – for indeed the lunchtime recitals last just that – one hour – and what a wonderful way it is for anyone working in Newbury to spend their lunchbreak (and an absolute bargain at £9 for an hour of live music).
Like violinist Christian Garrick the night before, the person who I found particularly entertaining was Toby Comeau on keyboards and grand piano. Not only is he a genius of the ivories but he has an almost innocent humour about him; whether his comic adjustment of the piano stool was intended or not, the audience loved it.
There were lots of schoolchildren at the lunchtime recital, taking over most of the circle. As a saxophonist himself, the husband was particularly keen to see this trio but seeing the number of small children streaming in we were prepared for there to be a fair amount of volume from the audience. But hats off to those children, who sat and listened intently to the whole show. Their schools should be very proud of them.
If you get a chance, do go and see something at the Newbury Spring Festival this week. Some events are sold out but for others you will still be in with a chance of getting a seat, so do check out what’s available either in person at the Corn Exchange (which is the booking office) or at the website: www.newburyspringfestival.org.uk.