Friday’s Guests were, as always, very familiar and very welcome. Plymouth’s own Rod Mason together with his talented Hot Five.
With so many familiar live music landmarks gone there is something heartening about the short walk from Rheinau Tubestation along the Park. The moment when you turn the corner and first hear the strains of New Orleans Jazz floating on the breeze with the butterflies. I’m late and in a bit of a hurry though, since I was waylaid by a young lady singing sweet nothings in my ear at Museumsmeile Station (see my review of JazzTube). Summer and Jazz it seems go hand in hand.
I’m not sure if it’s bad or good to find that every seat outside the Rheinaue Restaurant is taken. Good for the promoter, bad for me, I suppose. Lots of foreign tourists and people with laminated badges suggesting business congresses are to be seen as well – a lot of people will probably be telling friends in foreign lands they were at a genuine German Beer Festival, listening to genuine German Jazz. Well they had genuine German Beer brought to geniune German beer tables by genuine German waiters – but the Jazz was of a distinctly British origin. Plymouth born Rod Mason has been playing live Jazz for over fifty years now. From early days appearing with his fathers band Mason has taken his love of Louis Armstrong style Jazz to some of the best bands around. Work with Monty Sunshine after the latters departure from Chris Barbers Band and employment in the famed Paramount Jazz Band of Mr Acker ‘Stranger on the Shore’ Bilk show Mason is no ‘Dixie Cover Musician’, his is an original talent.
Like that other even older Statesman BB King, Mason now takes regular breaks from playing, and like King too he has put together an All-Star Band that do far more than ‘fill in’ the pauses. Sean Moyses is one of Europes top Banjo players and his solo spot is always a highlight. Clive Fenton steps out from under the weight of his Sousaphone to reveal he is also a mean cornet player and vocalist, and the ‘older generation’ of Mason’s Band are no slouches either – my favourite memory of the evening is of a group of youngsters dancing energetically to Andy Leggett’s Clarinet on ‘Candy Lips’. It lifted the atmosphere up a notch onstage as well as off to see the music and the musician can still create magic.
There is also something magical about Rod Mason’s toothy smile as he takes the applause for his soloing. It says he doesn’t take his audience for granted, even though many have been applauding him now for a good many years. It also shows he enjoys bringing his music to the people – and especially I suspect to the young people. You will go a long way to hear a better rendition of the Louis Armstrong sound, or a more faithful one. The Mason Trumpet and the Mason smile are also pretty potent when it comes to convincing the many people at Rheinaue that it is indeed a ‘Wonderful World’. Long may Rod Mason and his Hot Five be around to remind us that it’s Summertime and the living is, indeed, easier after an evening of cool beer and hot jazz.
- Jazz im Biergarten (3songsbonn.com)