08 September 2007

Vale! White Eagle

The big news of the day was the demise of Pavarotti, and of course we heard Nessun Dorma (or at least its spine-tingling chorus) several times on the radio.

Sadly, our local experiment in student jazz promotion also passed away on the same day. The Jazz Sessions as the White Eagle ended last Thursday night. It’s been a great series, even though the venue never seemed optimal. I liked the authentic Polish food and beer and there was plenty of space, but the stage and proscenium arch were dividers between band and audience, the room could be chilly in winter, and there was a lot of electrical noise to fight with in the audio department.

But the music was excellent. The early sessions were pretty informal, usually with a local band and a subsequent jam. But over time, they became virtual concert performances. But they were always in a jazz style, so there was ample time between sets to mingle and compare brands of beer, but there was also quiet and rapt attention while the music was playing. And the music was always challenging, interesting, diverse. Perhaps the presentations were too generous. I’ve heard up to 12 performers on a night, including imports, and it’s a lot of people to pay. In a business sense, this may be a failing: the two-band format was always costly. But in an artistic sense, it was an element of WE’s success. There were lots of local players who wanted to air their exploratory musings, and equally there were imports who sought a venue offering an informed and welcoming audience for original music and more esoteric jazz styles. In balance, the business side probably doomed WE, but the artistic side created its legacy.

So perhaps we should cheer the series which was the White Eagle, and hope that a new venue, and perhaps a new round of organisers, rises to take its place. It’s been a great series of nights. Many thanks to Phill, Hannah and Ed for their work over the last 18 months or so. Thanks to ArtSound for recordings and PAs. Thanks to various students who performed or helped out with setting up and taking down after each event. Have a well earned rest, and let’s hope for a new incarnation of the passion which was White Eagle.

BTW, I think all the White Eagle sessions have been written up on CJ. Just click on the “White Eagle” label below this post, or in the right hand column of this page, to view all.

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