In a world obsessed with the latest sick drops and heavy tones, it’s refreshing to change the pace and kick back with something a little more established instead. Jazz club, held every Tuesday night at Widnes RUFC, known locally as ‘The Wids’, sees The Savoy Jazzmen play host to a laid back evening of trad jazz and blues which has now been running for over 20 years. Often drawing a small yet passionate crowd of regulars, I had been invited to come along many times but, due to work commitments and being based in Manchester for quite a while, I’d been unable to attend. This week, however, I had the opportunity to pop down and see what it was all about. I wasn’t disappointed.
Make Yourselves Comfortable
I should probably start by pointing out that my grandmother is a regular at the jazz club and will, without fail, get up and sing a couple of songs with the band if she’s there. Of course I might have been a little biased in my opinion of the whole thing before ever setting foot in The Wids but, to be honest, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Everybody made their way in through the ridiculously heavy doors one by one, collected a pint at the bar and proceeded to take their seats for the night. Hushed conversations started bubbling up from all directions and as I looked around the room I realised that I was probably at least half the average age of everybody else (band included)
All of a sudden, the lead man tapped out a four count with his foot and they burst violently into life! Looking around the room again, no one was in the slightest bit phased by this despite the fact I’d jumped bolt upright on the back bench. Conversations carried on without interruption. Was I missing something? After the trumpet player finished his solo a polite round of applause scattered round the room and the clarinet took over. Same again. Another solo and another round of applause. This time all of the band joined in and everybody’s foot started tapping until the end of the song where the audience all put their drinks down and gave up a cheer.
The Whole Point Of Jazz Club
It dawned on me that these weren’t musicians who were chasing everybody’s attention, instead just having a great time doing what they absolutely love, and everybody who’d turned up to see them were just there to have a great time too and have a good chinwag. Towards the end of the set there was a raffle in which the prizes were funded entirely by the previous week’s takings and saw tickets get picked off a dinner tray that went round the room. When surrounded by today’s commercially driven industry of the desire to be ‘the next big thing’ it’s easy to lose track of the simple fact that music, above all else, should be enjoyable. More than that, it should be something that connects people.
In between songs the occasional light-hearted heckle would get thrown towards the stage, often with an equally witty response thrown immediately back. I quickly learned who the main culprits were and before the end of the night was loving the characters of the back row vs the side, waiting for the next bout of uncontrollable laughter. George flogging the raffle tickets, Mick with brilliant anecdotes of yesteryear and Frank who simply turned up halfway through and fell asleep in his chair within ten minutes. However, the best heckle of the evening surely has to go to Keith who waited until the very last song was over and yelled at the band “Gerroff!” who had no response apart from packing away their instruments away and grinning all the way back to the car park. Brilliant.