CHIPPING Norton has a soulful secret.
Every September for the past 17 years, the spirit of New Orleans has come to the town for the one-day Chippy Jazz and Music Festival, CJAM.
Streets, pubs, cafes and wine bars resounded with mellow notes and blue notes; blown, plucked, scraped and sung.
Following the death of its founder Mike Howse last year, 2014 seemed like it might be the last CJAM.
But now the festival has been single-handedly saved by one man.
Local jazz musician Dave Favis-Mortlock only heard in July this year the festival may not happen, and in two months he booked at least 15 bands and nine venues. And he says this year’s CJAM on Sunday, September 20, will be better than ever.
Dr Favis-Mortlock, a senior lecturer in geomorphology at Oxford University who plays Stephane Grappelli-style violin in his band FiddleBob, said: “If you’ve been to CJAM before, then you’ll know just how warm a welcome to expect, how much great music you will hear, and just how much fun you will have. If you haven’t been before, then you have a nice surprise in store.”
Among this year’s festival highlights will be the locally-famous Monday Blues, a collective of impressively talented young musicians in their late teens and early 20s.
The ensemble, which grew out of the Chipping Norton School All Stars, will be headlining the Chequers pub from 8.30pm.
Oxford saxophonist Phil Chaundy will be playing the same venue earlier in the day with his band.
But Dr Favis-Mortlock is also hoping to attract non-afficionados with some more accessible music, and to this end has booked the well-loved Boogie Snakes to headline the King’s Arms pub with their rock-funk fusion jazz.
His wife, Jo Davies, who plays rhythm guitar in FiddleBop, explained that opening jazz to a wider audience was what CJAM was all about.
She said: “This is a free festival, and kids can come in. Next year Dave’s going to try to get the schools involved as well.
“Mike Howse was such a good guy, we really liked him, and Dave just felt it would be such a shame to let the festival go.”
Mr Howse founded the event in 1997, and under his stewardship it grew each year until his death.
The festival also raises money for three charities – Lawrence Home Nursing Team in Chipping Norton, disability charity Special Effect and the End Polio Now campaign.
For full listings go to chippyjazz.com