All that Jazz. Suzanne Hawkes talks Jazz …

…and all about the new 2020 season at Two Sisters.

Screenshot 2020-02-20 at 11.21.47

“Not just an Arts venue for Trimley but for the whole Felixstowe Peninsula.” This was how Suzanne Hawkes described the Two Sisters Arts Centre, when it opened last year in Trimley St. Mary’s Church. The first year’s programme brimmed over with plays, gigs, music and performance in general and Suzanne declared herself very pleased with the success of the Centre. Some audiences have been small but the attendance has regular and catered to a wide variety of  tastes including Jazz.  The building’s acoustics are clear and make for a good listening experience, especially for those with less acute hearing. Now we are approaching the second season with the promise of an equally rich and extended menu on offer to the public. The first event will see the return of Jazz Night on 6th March, when Rosina Hepburn will open a new chapter in the already diverse programme of Jazz musicians who have come to Trimley. Jazz night will continue to be on the first Friday of the month in 2020 and sometimes on the last Friday as well.

I asked Suzanne if she would tell me more about the 2020 programme and it was decided we could do this to the background of six Jazz tracks, although the majority of the programme focuses on plays, films and other musical forms. And so it was we found ourselves at the dusky end of an afternoon tuning in to just three of our own personal jazz delights. Despite both being non-smokers, we yearned for a boozy smoky filled evening to set the essential cool tones. A befugged dive with plenty of house red or white, combined with an intriguing stranger would have been more appropriate but one of us had to drive home and it’s not easy to introduce strangers into the domestic environment. A cup of black coffee doesn’t quite cut it but in the circumstances we forced it down and used our imaginations, which are free and vivid.

Suzanne learnt to play the trumpet at school and had been in a Jazz Band but like many another, parked her musical instrument when work and life intervened. Her start to our semi-impromptu session began with trumpeter Chet Baker’s, ‘Every time we say goodbye’. Here was a trumpet player who knew how to infuse songs with feelings and emotions, using the instrument to create smooth, husky sounds, which at times sounded almost like a clarinet.  This particular version was new to me but deserves to be added to any aficionado’s library.

My choice changed the pace somewhat. It was followed up by Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Juke Box, ‘All about that bass’ which succeeds in combining joyful, slinky, sexy, tongue-in-cheek lyrics to a vibrant score guaranteed to score a hit with all but the most misanthropic of listeners. A recent performance of the PMJB at the Royal Festival Hall, which has a capacity of 2,700 was a sell-out. If they could have stood in the aisles, they would have. It’s fair to point out that although Two Sisters may not hold as many, it is perhaps longing for the day when the audience queue back to the High Road. (Come on People, make it happen…)

Back to Suzanne for the third piece of the early evening. She explained it was her good friend Alex who led her back to Jazz after a period of non-involvement and what he doesn’t know about it, simply isn’t worth knowing. It was he who introduced her to Israeli, Gilad Atzman’s, ‘Gaza Mon Amour’. His Sax playing demonstrates dazzling, breath taking techniques delivered at tremendous speed. It doesn’t take long to be transported to the souks of North Africa and the Middle East and Suzanne has visited these areas many times, although not necessarily as a result of this music. For her it invoked memories of eating freshly cooked sardines on the Quay in Agadir, fresh from the Atlantic and spending time in Jerusalem.

The fourth piece had flavours of the sub-continent, played by the astonishing Jan Garbarek, Anouar Brahem and Shaukat Hussain. Garbarek is a musician who plays without barriers or boundaries and this piece is the beginning of a musical journey. You may not know where you’re going but the excitement is there from the start.  Like many other jazz musicians his music has a generosity of spirit which embraces his fellow musicians.  He is one of the all-time greats but like all good musicians, it is perhaps his respect for others which helps place him there. On a slightly smaller scale this is also true of all those who play at Two Sisters and always gives the audience a good reason to return.

Suzanne choose a female vocalist for her final choice, our fifth rendition. Amy Winehouse was someone who had captivated her from the off, appreciating a voice of incredible power and strength. At times, it shares the same poignant, tragic qualities as Billie Holiday. Amy is a singer who can be returned to time after time and Suzanne listens to her albums at least once a week.  The particular choice for our short session was the duet with Tony Bennett; ‘Body and Soul’. It evokes all the memories of the others who have sung this song at different times, whilst at the same time creating something completely unique.

Finally, the last piece arrived. Another extraordinary woman singer, Dinah Washington and ‘This Bitter Earth’. Short but sublime, it seems to be one of the voices and songs of the Twentieth Century.  There was nothing either of us could say because its’ perfection sings for itself.

And then we talked about the upcoming programme Suzanne has been putting together over the winter. The hard work involved in constructing a varied and interesting programme is enormous for one person.  Some of the upcoming events have already been posted on The Two Sisters Facebook page. The following information comes directly from Suzanne:

The Two Sisters Arts Centre will open again in March with a very exciting line up of events:

Friday 6th The Rosina Hepburn Quintet – a London based band who have played at many famous venues (7.30pm £10)

Fri 13th The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – a tour de force one man performance from West End Actor James Hyland (7.30pm £12/£10)

Sunday 15th Sunday afternoon accappella with Triangle Music (2pm £8)

Friday 20th Poet Luke Wright with his brand new touring show The Remains of Logan Dankworth (7.45pm £12/£10)

Saturday 21st Wide Eye Productions Tunswick! local composer Wade Ablitt’s new musical in concert version. (7.30pm £8)


Book before 1st March online or via the Box Office 01394 279613 for

Fri 6th March Jazz evening with Rosina Hepburn Quintet

Fri 13th The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – a tour de force one man performance from West End Actor James Hyland

Fri 20th Poet Luke Wright with his brand new touring show The Remains of Logan Dankworth

AND GET YOUR NAME PUT INTO A PRIZE DRAW to win a voucher for two for ‘Breakfast at Benny’s or a £10 Voucher towards ‘Tea for Two at The Lighthouse Cafe’

The full programme from March – June  includes visits from The Pantaloons with Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, regular Friday Night Jazz events from some top bands, Black & White Productions latest play – ‘Harry’s Bar Celebrates The Few’ , A Suffolk Day talk from Charlie Haylock, ‘My Life in Books’, an evening in conversation with local crime author Ruth Dugdale, local radio celebrity Rachel Sloane and the Trimley St. Martin Village Recorder, Liz Rastrick, ‘SISTERHOOD’ an art exhibition from four local artists over the May Bank Holiday Weekend and A Two Sisters Maritime Festival with shanties, storytelling and a ceilidh plus a film showing of ‘Life on The Deben’ ,Martin Newell & The Hosepipe Band and J.S & The Buccaneers .

Tickets for March events can be booked now online @ Events for the rest of the season will be added in the next few weeks but you can reserve tickets for all events by phoning the  Box Office 01394 279613 – and from 1st March tickets for all events can be bought at Abbeygate Lighting in Felixstowe.


There is much to look forward to as we ride out storm-ridden February. Light evenings and  lengthening days await us, preceded by  the Two Sisters fresh and inviting programme. Now is the time to write events on the calendar and think about forthcoming pleasures.


Chet Baker:  Every time we say goodbye’

Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Juke:      All about that bass

Gilead Atzmon:  Gaza Mon Amour

Jan Garbarek:  Madar

Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse: Body and Soul (From Duets II – The Great Performance)

Dinah Washington: This Bitter Earth


The Two Sisters page on Facebook may be found at:

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