A sparkling season of jazz begins this month at The Keys in Huddersfield with a new venture between the restaurant and local musician Ben Crosland, a stalwart of the hugely popular Marsden Jazz Festival.
Ben, a barrister by day and bass player by night, was asked to organise a series of events at the parish church undercroft, which has a long-established reputation as a music venue.
The first, on Saturday, February 6, will feature saxophonist Dave O’Higgins and trumpeter Steve Waterman, along with the Ben Crosland trio.
Tickets for the evening are £10 (£7 for students), a price that Ben hopes will make the night of jazz affordable to most.
He explains: “We are trying to pitch it at a level that will encourage people to take a punt if they are new to jazz. I’m also keen to encourage students and young people to attend because they are the future of jazz.”
Ben was one of the founders of the Marsden Jazz Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
He has long been associated with the jazz community in the area and was a regular player for Huddersfield Jazz nearly 30 years ago as a member of the Adrian Ingram Quartet.
As a member of the Ben Crosland Quintet he subsequently organised and played at jazz events in the Lawrence Batley Theatre, providing a rhythm section for visiting musicians. It’s this format that he will be replicating for Jazz at the Keys.
This time around the Ben Crosland Trio will comprise himself on bass, Dave Tyas on drums and invited pianists.
For the first gig professional pianist Paul Kilvington is to join the trio.
The increasingly well-supported Marsden Jazz Festival is an indication that there is an appetite for jazz events in the area and Ben is hoping the inaugural Jazz at the Keys gigs will be successful enough to plan a second series. However, a previous season organised by Huddersfield Jazz saw so me events failing to draw in the crowds.
As Ben points out: “The jazz festival is very successful now but we had a couple of difficult years because of austerity. People just weren’t going out as much. I think all the arts have experienced that phenomenon.
“I know a lot of musicians and promoters up and down the country and they have had a difficult time, but hopefully we are turning the corner.”
The first gig features two extraordinarily experienced musicians. Dave O’Higgins has played with many of the really big names in jazz, including Ray Charles, Jim Mullen, the BBC Big Band, Ronnie Scott’s Allstars and even Frank Sinatra.
He teaches saxophone, harmony and improvisation at the London Centre For Contemporary Music and runs a specialist jazz recording studio. Steve Waterman also has an academic side to his career and teaches jazz trumpet as a faculty member of the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music. He is a founder of the Jazz Orchestra.
Tickets for the gig are available from www.jazzatthekeys.com , along with details of the forthcoming season.