Wimbledon International Music Festival

November 17, 2014

A French Connection

It is a rare treat to share an evening with musicians who are so obviously talented and who collectively and individually produce breathtaking sounds from their instruments. It is however, almost unique in my experience, to see a sense of sheer joy in their performance coupled with teasing improvisation at a level that continually amused the quartet, whilst the audience were invited to share the secret – if only they could tell where the spontaneity departed from the rehearsed.

Such was the Paris Washboard band who played in the Wimbledon Music Festival last night, at the evening sponsored by WSM. The band was founded in 1988 and is composed of one of the world’s finest 'New Orleans' trombone players; a 'stride' pianist of breathtaking technical precision; a clarinettist delivering supple phrasing; and yes – a washboard player with an infectious smile  and percussion skills beyond his years.

The band gave new meaning to traditional jazz and certainly justified their inclusion in the festival program, as well as the support from Arts Council England in its endeavour to widen the audience appeal of the festival's programme. Given the fairly sombre surroundings of the Wimbledon Synagogue, the quartet created a warm and engaging atmosphere from the off and had a standing ovation with their final number, an interpretation of Scott Joplin's Ragtime number, The Entertainer.

If this is the quality of entertainment throughout the festival, then praise indeed must go to Anthony Wilkinson and his team for some inspired programming. 

Paul Windsor