I remember attending Frome Jazz Club at the Old Bath Arms back in 2014 when the downstairs room was still known as The Piano Bar. It had made a pleasant
change from my usual boring mid-week pint turned too-many-pints with too many other twenty-something’s. And if I remember rightly, I had a wonderful
time! I love Jazz. The setting was certainly intimate and everyone there was only there to appreciate the music.
Thinking now, I don’t know why I never went back. I suppose life becomes distracting. You see, lately, all I can listen to is Jazz. It’s, broadly, the
only genre of music that I can have in the background of my life without feeling like it overwhelms my senses. My Spotify Discover Weekly continues
to send me down ever more intriguing Jazz avenues. Many an evening I’ve walked past those huge inviting windows of the Cornerhouse, pushing a blanket-clad
sleepy sproglet home, longing to pop in and gleefully soak in that bass and brass.
So, the time had come, I decided I must get myself down there on Thursday 5th. After all, facebook had been telling me I certainly should be interested, and
the excuse for the babysitter is that I’m doing it for work ;)
This month, The Keith Harrison-Broninski Trio presented ‘Next to Silence featuring John Martin’. It was the club’s first gig for over a month and everyone
seemed happy to be back. I’d arrived at a good time, there weren’t enough seats and it was only going to get busier but I managed to find a lonesome
chair in the corner by the waiting station. Later arrivals had trouble and there were some games of musical chairs but a large proportion of the audience
were regulars at gigs such as these and so easily found their preferred positions, floating in the periphery.
Their opening piece was 500 Miles High, originally by Chick Corea,
from the Return To Forever album - Light As A Feather. And I finally realised why everyone has been so excited about John Martin. His style of playing
is somewhat unique - an elaborate mosaic of notes, freestyle in a very true sense. It’s as though his Sax is leading him on a journey, and we, the
audience, are swept away with them both.
The gig had only just started and I looked around thinking, ‘Maybe I’m too young for Jazz…’ At 27, no one my age ever talks about Jazz as being
something they enjoy and I couldn’t find a date for this evening despite my many group chat appeals. But, just then I spotted a beautiful baby, smiling
and sleepy, his mother and many others swooning and cuddling, he perfectly content in his green protective earmuffs.
Anyway, I see no reason why I can’t skank amongst a sea of party people for a Drum & Bass legend on a Friday and then immerse myself in live sounds from the legendary EMC Records in the
same week. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons we Love Frome? This town’s personality is complex, and it’s many creative facets make it so much
more than the sum of it’s parts.
My favourite piece from the set was Kind Folk, originally by Kenny Wheeler. I loved it because I simply couldn’t resist that double bass introduction.
Here is a link to the Kenny Wheeler Trio performing Kind Folk at Vortex Jazz Club, London
They finished on Sea Journey, another Chick Corea number, and I had by far reached the point where I wanted to dance. The foot tapping and head swaying had become unstoppable. You might have thought
it was due to how many drinks had been consumed in the 3 hours we’d been there but Mr Bop Bop Tap Tap Tap Water next to me seemed to prove otherwise.
By the end, it seemed that there were, in fact, too many seats! Everyone had become stuck to theirs when they should have been up on their feet!
Frome Jazz Club is hosted by Keith Harrison-Broninski on the first Thursday and by John Law on the last Sunday of every month at The Cornerhouse, like and follow on Facebook or keep an eye on News at The Cornerhouse. The next gig - That Groove Thang with Martin Kolarides - takes place this Sunday.
For more from John Martin, click here to visit his website.
Keith Harrison-Broninski is the Leader of Town Digital Hub - An interactive website to help communities utilise their local assets and services to improve wellness within their society.
Author - Katrianne Lissauer
Photo Credit- Tanya Dalley