Square and Compass Jazz Festival, Dorset, 5th September

We’re back from summer holidays and the end of season, jazz family outing that is the mini-fest at the Square and Compass was a great way to return. The setting is dramatic, looking down at the sea from from the vantage point above Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. With the majority of the bands from the Bristol/ Bath area it was something of jazz scene outing, and what a friendly appreciative atmosphere it created. The word was that the roof was only just back on the pub, having been lifted on Friday by James Gardiner-Bateman and his London, college crew. Introduced as a local band, the Paul Young Quartet were an early delight on saturday. The easy, propulsive groove of everything they played set the scene for incendiary soloing from the whole band on an eclectic mixture of standards and contemporary post bop material. Rick Foot on bass was an unassuming engine house.

The Trio: Dorian, Trevor and myself

We did our best to mellow the assembled punters and passing hikers with a trio set at the end of the afternoon before the evening’s entertainment started with the Earnest trio led by John Short. They played a great set of largely original music, the exception being an Avashi Cohen tune. This was a driving groovy set of tunes assembled from blocks of complex rythmic figures, catchy riffs and virtuoso keyboard bursts from Dale Hambridge. Its a great synthesis of dancy beats, jazzy harmony and burning improvisations powered along by John Blakeley’s high energy drumming. It’ll be good to hear more of this band. The a capella band Boy held the room’s attention with their haunting selection of songs before Mike Willox and Kevin Figes got down and dirty with their Blue Note style re-invention of Beatles and other 60’s treasures. We shirked the pleasures of camping and headed back up the A350 before the end, but reports were of more delights on Sunday.

My abiding impression is of the treasure trove of creativity and fine music that’s happening around the area week to week that, thanks to the energy of John Blakely (animateur of the festival) was concentrated for the weekend down by the coast.

There’s more of it on show in he weeks ahead. Yum!!

Dale Hambridge, Jon Short and John Blakely

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