Beaufort Jazz

Great music – and you are invited!

Matt Wells and Willy Fluss to feature Monday 2nd of January

Music and Wine - Beaufort Jazz Christmas 2011

Music and Wine

First and foremost – A Happy New Year to everyone. Hopefully you will have had an excellent Christmas and that 2012 will be a prosperous (and musical) year for all. As usual Beaufort Jazz continues with its tried and trusted policy of always being held on the first Monday of the month, so tomorrow night will be our first of the year.

To mark the occasion the evening will feature the duo of Matt Wells and Willy Fluss. These very talented guitarists have appeared many times together in the North West, but have somehow managed to miss out on our convivial monthly evening of Django inspired music. Considering that they first met some five years ago at a Beaufort Jazz evening, their appearance is long overdue and we are very pleased to announce them as our opening featured performance.

Many will know Matt as a long-term Beaufort supporter who is well known for being one half of the duo Djangobop. Regular visitors to the Southport Jazz Festival will instantly recognise the name of Willy Fluss as he has appeared on numerous occasions, normally with Vernon Fuller as Twin Frets. Together they cover a lot musical ground from Gypsy Jazz to Latin and Jazz fusion, so it’s certain that we are guaranteed an entertaining varied performance. Don’t miss them.

You may be reading this having stumbled on this webpage searching for some information on Gypsy Jazz or even possibly looking for live music in the Lancashire and Merseyside area. Then why not join us? If you play an instrument we always welcome new musicians to play in the jam sessions which follow the featured performance. If listening is more your style then just turn up and take a seat – it’s that simple. We start promptly at 8 pm and can be found in the Ellerbrook Suite at the Briars Hall Country Hotel near Burscough – so please come along.

We have some photos of last month’s Christmas evening which will be posted along with an overdue review. The photo at the top was one that was taken and it seemed to sum up the spirit of the evening quite nicely with music and wine flowing in equal measure!

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.


January 2, 2012 Posted by | Beaufort Announcements | , , , , | Leave a comment

October review

Difficult as it is to believe it’s now 18 months since we moved from the Orangery to the Ellerbrook Suite. How time does fly. For one of our last Orangery evenings we enjoyed a visit from Samuel C Lees and his band, who were on that occasion accompanied by Eva Gray on vocals.

samuel c lees beaufort jazz 2011

Samuel C Lees trio

Having traveled from the other side of Manchester we endeavoured to give them a warm welcome and made sure that they had a decent slot in which to perform. We were well rewarded with a very enjoyable evening from some fine musicians. It was pleasing that they had taken the effort to search us out and we hoped that they would return someday.

After a year and a half there was some considerable satisfaction when we were able to announce that Samuel C Lees would be our featured musician for October. It wasnt entirely straightforward for Sam as unfortunately both his brother on bass and Paul on rhythm guitar could not make the date. Undeterred Sam called upon John McMahon and Steve Renshall to accompany him for the evening.

Not that you would have known that this line up had been assembled at short notice as the trio preformed a number of Gypsy Jazz standards as well as some of Sam’s own compositions from his CD –  All About Time.  Worth a mention was the composition There you have it which features on the CD accompanied by the splendid Daniel John Martin on the violin.

Beaufort Jazz end of evening jam 2011

End of evening jam

As the set drew to a close there were many requests for an encore. It turned out to be Minor Swing and  it has to be said that it was as good a version as any we have heard in a long while. All three musicians deserve great credit for this set. It would have been easy to rearrange – but instead a hastily arranged trio gave us a first class performance. Well done. The evening once again finished with the usual jam with a set from Ted Hanley inbetween.

Next month the featured artist will be Wheesh Cunningham and there will be more information in the next few days.

Footnote – eagle-eyed readers will notice that Guitar Retreats posted a couple of comments here on the blog to announce that Sam was giving a Gypsy Jazz workshop in Cornwall this weekend. Whilst it was posted a little late for many to take advantage of it might be worth noting for the future.

October 17, 2011 Posted by | Beaufort Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interesting Django article

A short post for all keen Django students. The article below has been made available for online reading by the Taylor and Francis Group. It is an interesting take on Django’s musical experiences in America with some inevitable anecdotes about the man himself.

It is not known how long the article might be online, so if the above link does not work it could be because access has been restricted to subscribers only. Many thanks to the Taylor and Francis Group for making this publicly available and hopefully it will help them generate revenue from new users.

Please observe the copyright terms and conditions.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Django | , , , | Leave a comment

Samois – time to reconsider?

Django Festival Samois

Festival goers take a moment to relax at Samois

A recent article in Songlines caught the eye as it raised concerns about the Django Reinhardt Festival held each year in Samois-Sur Seine. The thrust of the article was that Gypsy Jazz, the music made famous by Django, was slowly being edged out by more mainstream jazz. It’s now argued that the festival which bears the Django name no longer plays his music.

More often referred to as just “Samois” the festival as always been considered as the definitive tribute to Django. Musicians travelled across Europe to play and ensure the Django legacy was kept alive. Much of the appeal was the informal nature of the festival combining staged events with the opportunity for visitors to jam together.

The situation seems to have alienated many Django fans and musicians, to the point that many no longer attend the event. For such a narrow genre as Gypsy Jazz the threat is great. Without a flagship festival it is feared that the music will slip further from the public gaze and eventually rely on the odd advert or film score for wider appreciation.

Equally if the Gypsy Jazz musicians no longer attend there will be less impromptu jamming. Without this annual opportunity to collaborate with like-minded musicians, there is the concern that Gypsy Jazz will lose some of the energy and inspiration which attracts new talent. If the music doesn’t evolve the fear is it will eventually disappear.

Perusing the festival programme suggests that the music is now much more diverse than you might expect at a Django Reinhardt festival. Seemingly a little out of place, George Benson the king of smooth jazz headlines the bill. Wikipedia offers a possible explanation for his inclusion when it claims that “Benson uses a rest-stroke picking technique similar to that of Gypsy Jazz players such as Django Reinhardt”. Further examination suggests that the programme is less guitar orientated than in previous years with other instruments now taking centre stage.

There are still some traditional names with David Reinhardt the grandson of Django billed to appear. There are also artists such as Titi Robin who brought his unique fusion of gypsy and world music to Samois following his widely acclaimed performance at the Wychwood Festival earlier in the year. For some die-hard Gypsy Jazz fans, even Robin may be pushing the boundaries, which for them leaves the inclusion of mainstream jazz artists well outside original intent of the festival.

It would seem that the organisers of Samois have taken the view that diversity strengthens rather than weakens the festival. That it is acceptable to include music which has contributed to and spun off from Gypsy Jazz, no matter how tenuous the link might be to some.

It is one of those situations which raises as many questions as it provides answers. The festival relies heavily on the local residents of Samois who started the festival 32 years ago in memory of their famous resident and still volunteer in number to keep the festival running each year. Normally such an enthusiast led festival is sure-footed and true to the original cause. Volunteers only get involved because they care. To now find such disparity between what is offered and what the traditional supporters expect of such a niche festival is unusual to say the least.

The concern recently escalated with the launch of an online petition calling for a return to the Gypsy Jazz format of yesteryear. Judging from the online comments, it has struck a chord with many. One theory put forward by the petitioner is that commercial interests have taken precedence over the cultural heritage of the festival. As it is difficult to get any financial or management information about the festival it is hard establish what the motivation for change might be.

The idea of that the festival has been rebranded by stealth for financial gain is a worrying thought for many who have signed the petition.They see the original Django festival now diluted to such an extent that it is rapidly losing its original audience, something which could prove difficult to reverse if left unchecked. If this was allowed to happen the festival would then be almost totally reliant on its new audience for revenue.

Others see the way forward to have two separate festivals. There is a proven demand for the original Gypsy Jazz festival and however controversially, 2011 did at least demonstrate that Samois can also attract high calibre mainstream jazz musicians, which must be encouraging for the concept of a new jazz festival. Two festivals may be the solution and if successful could considerably enhance the local Samois economy. Most importantly for traditionalists it would ensure the legacy of Django lives on in Samois with a return to an authentic Gypsy Jazz festival.

It’s not clear what the future holds. The online petition is still accumulating signatures and there seems to be little feedback to date from the festival organisers. What is clear is that something precious and unique has been called into question by its core supporters. That in itself should cause the organisers to reflect.

Artists of the stature of Reinhardt probably only arrive on this earth once in a generation. It shouldn’t be too much to hope that a small festival in the heart of France can recapture its audience and celebrate his genius. Gypsies and music lovers worldwide are hoping for a successful outcome.

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Django | , , | Leave a comment

Djangobop to feature – Monday March 7th

Matt Wells Djangobop beaufort jazz mar 2011

Matt Wells Djangobop

After one century ends another begins -and so we start our second century of Beaufort Jazz evenings on Monday March 7th. when the featured musicians will be the excellent Djangobop. Having supported Beaufort Jazz evenings for a number of years its very good news to announce that this popular guitar duo of Matt Wells and Dave Stearsrtee will be playing the opening featured set for the evening. They need little introduction to Beaufort regulars and many will remember Matt’s last visit when supported Bob Clarke last December.

Matt and Dave have been playing as duo for the last five years and they best describe their music as Django with” just a hint of more contemporary jazz”. Their association goes back even longer – over twenty years to be precise and during that time they have worked with many musicians across a whole range of genres, an experience which has clearly helped them to develop their unique style. The duo also take pride in the performance by “keeping the presentation to that of mid 40’s France”.

Dave Stearstree Djangobop beaufort jazz mar 2011

Dave Stearstree Djangobop

On the night the duo will be joined by Paul Murphy on third guitar and by the addition of a bass player. It promises to be another thoroughly enjoyable featured set from some talented musicians. It will also be another outing for the new sound system which Paul Draper has been using for about the last three or four Beaufort evenings. The general view seems to be that this has been a great success with the music sounding better than ever. As usual the evening will start promptly at 8pm in the Ellerbrook Suite. Doors open at 7.45 pm so please do try to arrive in good time for the start of the performance.

If you are thinking of visiting us for the first time, please remember that Beaufort Jazz now uses the Briars Hall Hotel as its new venue. The Beaufort Hotel (our original home – hence our name) closed a while ago and is now a nursing home. To the best of our knowledge they don’t host Jazz nights, so probably not worth a visit.

Look forward to seeing you on the 7th!

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Beaufort Announcements | , , , , | Leave a comment

The 100th Beaufort Jazz Evening! – Featuring Daniel John Martin

Daniel John Martin Beaufort Jazz

Daniel John Martin

Following our eighth anniversary towards the end of last year, someone casually asked what our next milestone might be? It was a good question and  after a little discussion and some maths we calculated that the February event would in fact be our 100th Beaufort Jazz Evening. It didn’t seem possible, but it is the case and Monday 7th February will be 100th time we have got together to enjoy our friendly evening of Gypsy Jazz.

It’s doubtful that we will get a telegram from the Queen but we are hoping for a full house. It would be good to see old faces again that havent managed to attend the last few evenings but might want to make a special effort for this one. Newcomers are aways very welcome,  just roll up on the night and take a seat – it’s that easy.

For our 100th celebrations we are very pleased to announce that Daniel John Martin will be our featured musician. Daniel is the Paris based jazz violinist and vocalist who has worked with some very familiar names during his career. If you have seen Daniel in France it could well have been at one of the popular jam sessions which he hosts alongside Angelo Debarre. These sessions have welcomed some splendid musicians over the years and they have been joined by Boulou and Elios Ferre, Moreno, Patrick Saussois, Rodolphe Raffalli, Andreas Oberg, Ludovic Beier and Kiyoshi Kabayashi – and many more.

Daniel is also well-known for his appearances at The Birmingham International Jazz Festival, The City of London Festival and many major French Jazz Festivals as well as finding time to record and appear at many of the recognised Jazz venues in Europe.

In his younger years Daniel spent many years travelling and living in South Africa before moving to Paris and studying violin at the Parisian conservatories. It was during these years that he “met up with jazz” and it has been his main musical interest ever since. Originally born in Congleton in Cheshire, his visit to Beaufort Jazz is therefore almost a homecoming after many years of travelling and performing. Please give him a very warm Beaufort Jazz welcome on what will be a unique and special evening.

Daniel’s website can be found by clicking here. There is also a promotional poster for the evening which can be found by clicking here. If you able to help to download the poster and promote the evening – it is greatly appreciated.

If you havent managed to make recent Beaufort Jazz events why not come down and share in our 100th celebrations? We will be back in the newly refurbished Ellerbrook Suite at the Briars Hall Hotel so there will be plenty of room for everyone to have a seat for the evening. As usual we will start promptly at 8pm with doors opening at 7.45pm. Entry is the usual £1.

Look forward to seeing you on 7th!

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Beaufort Announcements | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beaufort musicians – gig update

Guitar Festival logoAs we enter November the days may shorter and the weather colder, but at least we can look forward to some high quality live music events – one of which is the annual International Guitar Festival of Great Britain. Now in its 22nd year. the Festival has played host to many Beaufort musicians over the years. This year is no exception with the following two gigs coming to our attention.

Modjango are set to appear  at the Floral Pavillion Winter Gardens on November 5th,  the opening date of the festival. They are appearing with the Djangonauts in an evening which is a tribute to Django Reinhardt. Details can be found here

Also Tom Sykes will be playing in the Les Bolger jazz guitar ensemble. They will be appearing at the Floral Pavillion Winter Gardens on November 7th. Details of their gig to be found at this link

If you enjoy Beaufort evenings you are likely to enjoy these gigs. It’s also worth checking out many of the other performances on the Festival website which can be found here

November 2, 2010 Posted by | Event Announcements | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Excellent Django resource

Every now and again we try to publish something original about Django Reinhardt which we think will interest enthusiasts. The difficulty is that much of the original material has already been published on the web in one form or another. So when we find a good Django resource on the web we are very pleased just to link to and recommend that site.

So it is with this site hosted by Paul Vernon Chester. It contains an excellent wealth of information on Django throughout his life and travels and should be of great interest to all Django students. Please click on the blue link above to get to Paul’s website.

Our sources also tell us that Paul is quite an accomplished guitarist and hopefully he will find himself in the North West at some stage and be able to attend one of our Beaufort Gypsy Jazz nights

Finally, don’t forget that Adam Palma is our featured act for September (see post below). This is definitely one to put in your diary. More details to be announced shortly!

August 24, 2010 Posted by | Django | , , , | Leave a comment

A full house – last Mondays review

Paul Budgen and Clifton Harrydass

It’s always very encouraging when a lot of hard work produces results. So it was last Monday when Beaufort Jazz had a full house for the evening, comfortably filling the  Ellerbrook Suite with faces old and new.

The ever popular Trez Fez opened the evening with our special guest Clifton Harrydass featuring on steel pan. At first glance it might seem an unlikely combination for a gypsy jazz evening but it worked well and proved once again that good musicians can produce delightful performances from unexpected collaborations. The set contained many of the Hotclub favourites with Clifton adding subtly to the Trez Fez melodic sound. 

It has to said that the featured band format certainly works very well. Musicians get the opportunity to perform a 40 minute set and occasionally try something a bit different. Without this opportunity it probably wouldnt have been able to showcase Trez Fez and Clifton in this unique collaboration.

Previous featured bands have been just as impressive. In July we had Modjango make a welcome return to Beaufort Jazz to perform one of their vibrant sets. Both Roy and Paul Gregory had been taken ill that day but made a great effort to attend and play. Prior to that in June we were entertained by The Hot Club of Knotty Ash who brought an extended line up featuring violin and no less than four guitars. Both evenings were a great success and helped bring Gypsy Jazz to a new and appreciative audience.

Big John - Swing Manouche

After the featured act the evening offered musicians the usual opportunity to come together and play on the stage. Some  arrived as a prearranged group, whilst others arrived on their own to join in with a band or form an impromptu ensemble for the evening. It’s difficult to credit all these performances in a short post such as this but hopefully all musicians will get a mention here at some stage in the future.

The evening concluded with a welcome return to  Beaufort Jazz from Swing Manouche who now perform as a Trio with two guitars and double-bass. Welcome back gentlemen. As the room emptied, some musicians retired to the Orangery to jam informally whilst Clifton gave some enthusiastic onlookers a beginner’s lesson on the steel pan.

Needless to say, it takes a huge amount of effort to organise and promote the Beaufort Jazz evenings so it is most rewarding to see so many new faces. Hopefully the new people who attended will have enjoyed themselves and will want to join us again next month.

Many thanks to Will for the photographs

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Beaufort Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New – Django history

Readers of this blog suggested that it should have some  information on Django and the background to Gypsy Jazz. This presented a slight dilemma as there are many resources on the web relating to Django and it would be difficult to provide something new and original.

A chance conversation then revealed that Tom Sykes, violinist and long-term supporter of Beaufort Jazz had written an interesting document about the musical influences which had encouraged Django and developed the musical genre we now know as Gypsy Jazz. Tom has very kindly allowed us to publish this document for the first time click here  

If you are going to the Southport Jazz Festival – Tom will be playing with a band called Petrus at 12 Noon on the 27th May outside the Town Hall on Lord Street. The line up will feature Tom on violin, Les Bolger on guitar with accordion and double bass. Whilst Tom informs us that it will not be strictly Hot Club, there will be some familiar numbers.

As many of you know, in fine weather there is nothing better than an afternoon in Southport during the Jazz Festival. If you can make it,try to catch Petrus on the 27th

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Django | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swingology to open Monday 5th April

And so a new era begins on Monday 5th of April when Beaufort Jazz has its first Monday evening in the Ellerbrook Suite at the Briars Hall Hotel. Many regulars will know that this is the suite where we held the recent Ritary and Gary Potter concerts.

Both of these concerts were sell outs and it was pretty clear from the comments that just about everyone preferred the Ellerbrook to the orangery. The relaxed club style of the Ellerbrook Suite is clearly the ideal environment for our regular gypsy jazz nights.   

To open our new venue we are delighted to welcome back Swingology as our featured opening act. They need no introduction to regulars and if you have not been to Beaufort Jazz before you must make the effort to see these guys. You will not be disappointed.

As usual, the evening will showcase the other splendid musicians who will travel from far and wide across the north west to give us the very best in gypsy jazz. It’s worth reminding newcomers that whilst the focus is on gypsy jazz, we do enjoy other styles as well and welcome all musicians who wish to join us.

Doors open at 7.45 and Swingology will start at 8pm on the dot – so don’t be late!

Entry fee only £1 per person


March 23, 2010 Posted by | Beaufort Announcements | , , , , , | Leave a comment