The simple answer to the title of this piece is: good. Was it worth the 500 mile round trip: yes. Did I enjoy what I heard? You can read for yourself in my reviews.
First vote of thanks and admiration has to go to the organizers. To ensure that everything ran as smoothly as it appeared to do takes a monumental effort and a great deal of time: standing ovation to you.
The second vote of thanks must go to the volunteers who worked the festival to ensure that visitors were welcome, knew where they were going and where the toilets were. All of this was done with a smile and I felt that nothing was too much trouble: another standing ovation.
The Marsden Jazz Festival is A Jazz Venue of the Year finalist in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2019 and justifiably so. The Guardian newspaper rated it as one of the best family friendly jazz festivals in the country: no argument there. The simple fact is that Marsden is a small village that puts on a big jazz show once a year and it works!
Were there any quibbles? Well only one that I heard more than once. The gig venues were dotted around the village and included Clubs (Conservative, Liberal, Socialist), Churches, Community Halls, outdoor marques and the village bandstand. The wet weather (yes, apparently rain is not uncommon in Yorkshire) did not dampen the spirits of either the bands playing or the audience listening. However, the quibble came with the venues situated in pubs.
I saw Wendy Kirkland play in one of the village pubs. I also witnessed a number of people leave early simply due to the fact that the pub was so noisy they could not hear well enough to really appreciate the playing (clearly not everyone in the pub was there for the jazz). I also heard this quibble applied to other venues, the common factor being that they too were pubs. I doubt there is much the organizers can do about this as the village is small and venues not abundant in number.
I heard some great jazz at Marsden. I also listened to Youth Bands, High School Bands, Big Bands and wonderful combos such as The Gelatos (a high energy jazz trio doing songs from the ’40s and ’50), and Alligator Gumbo (a very popular seven piece from Leeds who wowed a packed audience at the Royal British Legion). And, of course, you simply had to admire the energy and enthusiasm of the Saturday Festival Parade. The simple fact is that there was so much to see, hear,and enjoy that the only time the smile left my face was when I had to face the drive home: still, there are always the memories.