My lovely friends Linda and George are visiting from Spain and arranged for us to go to The Turk’s Head pub in Twickenham last night for supper and jazz. Keen jazz fans, especially with George playing saxophone himself, we’ve often sought out an evening’s music entertainment both here and in Spain when I visit them … well, and good food of course too! We’ve been to the iconic Pizza Express Jazz Club in London’s Soho where we saw the brilliant Scott Hamilton (click here) and enjoyed great food and jazz in Spain overlooking the sea (click here).
Back in Twickenham, despite the Turk’s Head being local and hearing and reading much about the great things that go on there, I’d never been. I’d heard it was a good place for music; of their running club; their choir. Now, looking at the website (click here), I see they have a busy calendar of exciting entertainment almost every day (click here for more): comedy, curry nights, theatre, quiz night, food events and talks. And, of course, music. The Jazz Sanctuary regularly give performance space to established and emerging artists. Last night we saw the Mark Buckingham Big Band, who play there once a month.
The MB Big Band (click here) was created during the UK lockdowns to give professional musicians a chance to play together and stream their music. Mark is a saxophonist/clarinetist and his 17-piece band features some of the finest jazz musicians in London. Different musicians play each time though there’s a core of regulars. They play the music of legendary big bands: Count Basie, Buddy Rich etc.
The event was held in the Winchester Hall attached to the pub (which is in Winchester Road, TW1). There’s a small stage, a bar at the back and tables were laid out ready for those eating. Linda had booked a table and we sat down and looked at the menu. There was a great choice from bar snacks (exciting offerings like Padron Peppers with Labneh and Dukkah) to plates to share (charcuterie plates and Greek mezze) to mains. We each chose a main and bought a bottle of red wine to share.
I had Chalcroft Farm Beef Burger with Gouda, lettuce, tomato, red onions, secret sauce and triple cooked chips (£16.95). It was an excellent burger and those triple-cooked chips were the best I’ve had in ages. I really enjoyed my food.
Linda had Beer Battered Haddock with triple cooked chips, crushed minted peas, tartare sauce and lemon (£17.95), which she said was very good.
George had Norfolk Corn-fed Chicken Kyiv with shaved fennel and Isle of Wight tomatoes (£15.95) which he also enjoyed.
As we ate, the band warmed up and started playing.
They didn’t play obvious old favourites but a fantastic mix of big band jazz. Each piece featured one musician: a saxophonist, a trombonist, trumpeter.
Sat at the front, we were almost part of the band … though George hadn’t brought his saxophone from Spain! It was great to be so close: there really is nothing like live music with the best musicians playing. We ate our meal, sipped at our wine, and bobbed on our seats along to the beat of the music.
It was a fantastic, uplifting evening of the best kind of entertainment: great music, good food and the company of very good friends. What more could one ask for?