What a difference a day makes, especially with a visit to the Long Gallery in the Abingdon Abbey to hear and savour the exquisite voice of Maxine Day working in partnership with the talented Oxford Jazz Trio.
It had everything: atmosphere, a very high attendance, fantastic song choices plus a few welcomed surprises. On an electronic keyboard, with a grand piano setting, was Martin Pickett, joined by the theatrical Tim Richardson on the drums and the quietly industrious Steve Smith on bass. Their guest singer was the wonderful Maxine Day. Looking around, these jazz lovers were mightily impressed with the event, fully appreciating the ensemble, their personal interpretation and the smooth as honey tones of Maxine's beautiful voice. My personal favourites included 'Fly Me to the Moon', 'Night and Day', 'Autumn Leaves' - I could easily go on.
As a venue, the Long Gallery provides the luxury of having plenty of room to chat with band members and the audience can mingle and wander about during the break. It was clever marketing to be offering the local yummy local brew from Loose Cannon brewery among the beverages to sip throughout the performance.
The audience comprised of interested jazz followers and Jazz Festival groupies who were beginning their trek across the UK over summer. One woman commented while leaving that she was delighted by the great performance and the lovely setting in Abingdon. Positive and encouraging feedback like this will surely boost the numbers for next year.
Now to the surprise. Martin Pickett who was the MC and keyboardist gave a special mention to a certain common garden bird heard accompanying the band so in honour of its contribution, the trio went on to play 'Bye, Bye Blackbird'. A clever ending we thought but no, the fun continued with a rendition of 'My Funny Valentine'. What a great choice for Maxine's encore gift which is still resonating with me long after the performance. The key word in the song 'Stay' would have been done so rather happily by the appreciative audience.
Festival director Michael Ward, Friends of Abingdon, and Music at the Unicorn should feel very proud of their combined efforts. The band and audience applauded together for this successful initiative which bodes well for its future. I look forward to next years' selection.