As a professional jazz musician, I often get a hollow laugh from fellow musos when I say I’m going off to do a Saga jazz holiday. There’s an illusion among some of my colleagues in this trade: Despite being themselves “of a certain age” and well-prone to riotous living, they mistakenly believe that Saga customers must be of a distinctly staid disposition. Wrong!
We’re in Punta Umbria, in Andalucia this week. There are just 26 guests on this holiday and the age-range is (I’m guessing) 55 to 80-plus. Picture this scene: we’ve all got to our respective airports at some ghastly hour for a 7.00am flight to Faro. Then coach across the Spanish border to the resort. Check in. Guests disappear to their rooms. Musicians spend the afternoon setting up kit, sound-checking, moaning about lack of sleep while the punters are having a siesta.
Margaret, the Saga host chatting to some guests
Dinner: the guests appear looking surprisingly spry. The organiser/jazz host says “Why don't you just do an hour for them after dinner?” (We’re not contracted to play the first night). We say OK
Well, if you had any illusions about Saga customers, they would not not have lasted beyond the first number. I should mention that on this gig, I’m with a Jump Jive band, playing the music of Louis Prima, Louis Jordan and the great American swing era. We start playing. We’ve not played one chorus, and they’re up dancing! And I don't mean the foxtrot!
And they’ve been like that all week. We have couples, we have singles. They’ve all danced. They do. And quaffed cava. And sang
Getting into the 'swing' of playing!
For us musicians, there are few better sights than a full dance floor at a jazz gig, plus the non-dancers sitting with fingers drumming and toes tapping. They’ve been a delight to entertain, and fun to be with during the day. They’ve all got a story to share and, of course, a shared love of the music. Most of them have never been on a jazz holiday before, but they say they’re coming back. They’ve made new friends. And so have we.