Bath Festival opening night

Bath Festival is underway. The opening night, no longer a soggy collective affair in the park, but now lots of individual happenings in venues around the centre culminated with Farka Toure in the pavilion and quiet fireworks (after complaints about the nosiy variety by residents last year…. no really!!). It was fine enough to sit out and we spotted some picnic-ers in North Parade Gardens listening to a slightly wheezy brass band.The town itself is strangely muted for the evening. A casual observer might be unaware of the festivities apart from the occasional wisp of samba school drumbeats or heavenly choirs from the abbey.

We had fun taking in a student (very student) jazz ensemble in Chapel Arts, the samba band in Kingsmead square (for some weird reason dressed like morris dancers) and then GBH – local big band – at the pavilion followed by that Fark Toure chap. GBH were a blast as ever, they really play some great charts, expertly marshalled by Mike Daniels. Some fiery guest soloists tonight as well. I loved Mingus’s Gotta git it in your soul; only a couple of years since we saw the Mingus band themselves do it on the same stage. An excellent evening, lubricated by Bath’s very own Gem ale.I did manage to stop myself tugging at Nod Knowles’ sleeve and telling him the jazz programme was more interesting, and less obviouswhen he used to book it (what did happen to that alpine horn and throat singer duo I wonder)….especially as he was standing next to Joanna Macgregor at the time (the current programmer)

We are off to our first ‘proper gig’ later, so more to come. I’m turning myself into the Bath Fest (jazz) blogger for the weekend.

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