On Monday 19th, Vanbrugh College’s weekly Jazz Night celebrated its second birthday. Vanbrites, including the house band, the Vanbrugh JCRC and V-Bar’s bar staff, and members of other university colleges enjoyed cake, balloons and plenty of booze during the festivities.
Vanbrugh College hosts a jazz night every Monday night in V-Bar. The Jazz Night is always a popular event each week, with plenty of students from Vanbrugh and elsewhere turning up to hear the music and recuperate after a weekend of either hard labour or partying (or both). Starting at 8:30ish, it’s always a sell-out – you’ll be lucky to find a free seat, let alone a free table, in the bar by 9pm, but it’s certainly worth coming to see.
The house band features some of Vanbrugh’s best musicians, who play many jazz, funk, soul and blues standards including Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’, Joe Zawinul’s ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ and Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington’s ‘Take the ‘A’ Train’, along with occasional versions of modern music. But come 10:30 – and providing that the house band members are still on their feet and not swaying from side to side too much – members of the audience are welcome to try their hand at a bit of music-making.
Occasionally we hear the odd rendition of ‘Cry Me a River’ given by a confident male student. It’s a daunting experience at first, taking over from the professionals and playing a piece of music you might not know perfectly, but it’s certainly rewarding for an aspiring musician – the opportunity to play alongside excellent musicians in front of a supportive crowd should not be ignored. After one performance with the house band, you will definitely want to come back and play again, and I can personally say that the musicians are more than happy to let you play often. The Jazz Night, and other musical events organised by Vanbrugh College, emphasise inclusion and welcome the musical talents of everyone, not just the regulars in the house band.
Recently the Vanbrugh College Jazz Night was recorded and broadcast live by the university’s radio team, in the last Monday before the Winter Term ended. Those who attended may remember a particularly controversial version of ‘White Christmas’, the altered lyrics of which are not safe for work. Thankfully our merry, singing saxophonist was reminded that he was live on air before the subject of the edited song could get any worse! All part of the fun and good-natured madness of a Vanbrugh Jazz Night.