It’s been a while since we were last at The Mad Hatter - if we lived closer to this
I forget, sometimes, that we live a stone’s throw from one of the most culture-rich cities in the world. Tonight, I experienced a tiny glimpse into that realm and, must concede, was a little overwhelmed.
According to their website, the Oxford University Jazz Orchestra was founded in 1991, making it the oldest jazz ensemble at the University. With about 20 of the university’s best jazz musicians performing at any given time - they are a force to be reckoned with. They have won awards and performed around the world as well as closer to home on the Oxford Ball circuit with names like Sophie Ellis-Bextor and The Streets.
I’m a complete philistine when it comes to jazz - I know that I enjoy listening to it, while also knowing that I am rather uninformed. So I went to this evening’s performance with trepidation, wondering how on earth I was going to cover something about which I know nothing.
Even arriving slightly ahead of the 8:30pm start turned out to be risky – we were just in time to get to the bar without a fight through the assembled bodies, and even managed to bag a comfy sofa, albeit at the back of the venue. The bar filled quickly, and when the orchestra struck up, there was a surge towards the Tardis-like stage. It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere in the bar; there was a vibrant buzz and a lot of love for the ensemble. As soon as the music kicked in, I found myself transported to a world before my time. While they played a few numbers that I recognised (You Make Me Feel So Young was a particular favourite), it was the energy of the instrumental pieces that had my husband and me entranced. Surrounded by university students enjoying the ambience and bopping along, had there been room, we’d have been up and dancing too. Alas, it was a work night, and as my student days are long gone, we had to make our excuses before the end of the performance. But we left the venue feeling a little lighter in our souls and vowing to appreciate the City of