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Bebop Spoken There

Chico Hamilton: "[On depping with the Ellington Band at 17] I was as nervous as a sissy at the YMCA." - (Down Beat June 15, 1966).

George Melly: “The North-East remains the most foreign area of Britain, not only in its Scandinavian vowel sounds, but in its aggressive friendliness and insistent hospitality.” – (Mellymobile 1970-81 Robson Books, 1982).

Bebop Spoken There Archives.

Today Saturday July 26

Afternoon
- St. Augustine's, Larchfield St., Darlington DL3 7TG. 12.30pm. £10.
Monthly, back August 2 w. Rachel's Dream.
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Evening
TBA (Solo jazz), Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 0191 2399924.
Class food class solo jazz.
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GILLIGAN & HANNON - Jazz Café. 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 9pm. FREE!
Duo set by Peter and Lindsay - The earth may move!.
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JOHN BRETT BAND - Saltburn Cons. Club, 8.30pm. Free.
Could this be THE JOHN BRETT? (Return to Saltburn please - keep the change)
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RENDEZVOUS JAZZ - Sandpiper, Farringdon Rd., Cullercoats NE30 3ER. 8.30pm £3.
Monthly back August 2.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maine Street Jazzmen @ Rosie Malone's

Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl/hca), Jim McBriarty (clt), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
For a while something has been puzzling me about Ms. Malone's establishment. It's an Irish bar with pictures of shamrocks adorning the walls yet tis rare to see someone drinking Guinness let alone Poteen. Come to that, nor can I recall the Maine Street Jazzmen playing any Irish rebel songs.
Nevertheless, they may be found wanting when it comes to "The Wearing of the Green" but they are on the ball when it comes to Jazz Standards.
Today's programme included "At The Jazz Band Ball", "Jazz Me Blues", "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" and "Way Down Upon The Swannee River". Olive was up for "Back in Your Own Back Yard", "Swing That Music", "Some of These Days" and "When You're Smiling" which she executed with style and panache.
A couple of Kenny Ball numbers were called out resulting in stirring renditions of "Midnight in Moscow" and "So Do I".
Ray Harley is still around and the word is that he'll be here for a few weeks yet. If he continues playing like he did today that is very good news indeed.
The whole band played well with Herbie sliding back and forth from rough to smooth, Jim, as inscrutable as the Blarney Stone and as agile as a leprachaun, Malcolm defying belief that he has but ten fingers, Alan walking the the bass round the block and back again whilst Tommy, at times, reminded me of George Wettling. Which just leaves Olive who was, quite simply, Olive.
To ensure that the high standard was maintained the Jazz Police in the form of Russell and Paul were on vigilante patrol but fortunately there wasn't a banjo in sight so no arrests were made.
Lance.

CrescENDo

I bought the first issue of Crescendo in July 1962 and for many years I was a regular reader - I even contributed an article to the April 1970 edition - then it disappeared for a while before returning on a subscription only basis which is when I jumped ship.
Looking at that first edition with Woody Herman on the cover I noted the editorial described it as 'For musicians and would be musicians.'
Perhaps this was both its strength and its weakness. Not enough fan appeal.
Also in that inaugral issue were articles on Basie, Peterson, Jack Parnell, George Chisholm and Nelson Riddle.
Les Evans' reed clinic provided valuable hints for sax/clarinet players as well as including serial numbers for the different makes thus allowing you to put a date on an instrument.
Ocasionally a score would be printed - Horace Silver's "Filthy McNasty" is one that springs to mind. Just what every musician needed, you might think.
I recall, around the time it made the first of several re-appearances, I worked in a music shop that stocked the revamped Crescendo. A prominent local musician came in to the store to buy some reeds.
"It's back!" I said excitedly, thinking I was going to make this guy's day.
"What's back?"
"Crescendo - its back on sale again."
"Really?" he replied as he held a Rico number 4 alto reed up to the light examining it closely for any irregularity of texture - or whatever is it was that we sax players used to look for - I never quite knew. Now they are sold in sealed packs so that rigmarole no longer takes place.
I showed him an article by possibly Cannonball Adderley or Phil Woods.
No interest whatsoever.
The moral of the story being - don't depend on musicians to buy magazines (or to support other musicians' gigs come to that).
Still it is sad to see it go as it covered ground the other jazz mags with the exception of Down Beat didn't.
RIP.
Lance.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Memories of Nigel Stanger and the Newcastle Big Band by David Brown.

I watched Sting's Durham Cathedral programme last night and was prompted onto the net this morning by the old photos of the members of the Newcastle Big Band and, in particular, Nigel Stanger.
A Google search for Nigel led me to your fantastic blog site this morning, and to discover that Nigel had died was a great shock, and even more to, just now, find out after searching for references to Germaine, and reading her posts, that it was in fact 10 years ago.
Anyway, it would take me months to read all the stuff on your site, but I've spent more time than I should have today looking at the old photos and reminiscing.
I was intrigued to see a note last March from James Caird about Nigel, as James was the bass player with the Dave Brown Quartet, from which the NBB evolved. Our pianist was Tony Winstanley (a great Horace Silver fan, and the last I heard from him, he was project managing the construction of an oil pipeline in Siberia, honestly!), and we had a young lad (about 5 years younger than us!!) called Gavin, and I can't remember his surname. He was recommended to us by Nigel, as Gavin and his family were friends with Chas Chandler and the Animals, in particular John Steele; I can picture him as he was then, and even remember the house he lived in on the West Road. (P.S. I've just had a thought, it might have been Gavin Moore.)
Speaking of San Sebastian, I can fill in a couple of names for you on the grainy photo of the band in San Sebastian, the NBB's second visit, with you (Lance) and Charlie in the saxes. The baritone player (?, on left in the pic) is Phil Doggett, a very good friend of mine from the south, who back in 1970 was playing in Herts in the same band as Graham Sheppard, that's before Graham ventured north to university. And I think you'll find that the trumpet player sitting bottom right is Dave Savill, not Dave Bishop, another long time friend of mine from the south, who did both of the Big Band's Spanish trips. I still keep in touch with Phil, as we were best man to each other, and god parents to each other's children.
I also keep in touch with Allen Gibbs, who is doctoring in Wales, and in fact had a blow with him a couple of years ago at his 65th birthday party in Newport, the first time we'd played together since your San Seb picture!
I used to play a lot with Dave Savill, as did Phil, in the 70s and 80s, until I moved down to Sussex. Dave at one time played with the Midnight Follies Orchestra, I think taking over from Alan Elsdon. We believe Dave moved up to Workington to disappear off our radar, must be over 5 years ago now.
I'd like to get in touch with James and Germaine, as well as Ian Heslop and Bob King, do you have email addresses for any of them, by any chance?
Thanks again for prompting all those fond memories for me today, marvellous!!
My very best wishes to you, and anybody else you might see who remembers me.
David (aka Dave!) Brown

The Jazz Esquires @ The Porthole - Not Smooth Sailing.

Mick Hill (tpt), Terry Dalton (tmb), Tony Winder (ten/clt), Roy Gibson (pno), Robin Douthwaite (gtr), Stan Nicholson (bs), Laurie Brown (dms). + George Laing (pno), Miles Watson (vcl), Teresa Armstrong (vcl).
Going to the Porthole, is always a bit of an adventure for us 'southerners' involving, as it does, a ferry journey across the Tyne from South Shields to North Shields. Today's mini-cruise - all seven minutes of it - foretold of things to come as my legs felt distinctly rubbery as I walked down the gangplank and onto the ferry landing which was bobbing around somewhat more than usual.
However, by the time I'd walked the short distance to the waterfront pub equillibrum was returned.
The Jazz Esquires were on form today blowing in the manner of the old Lyttleton Band - the one with Skidmore, Temperley and Coe - on "In A Mellotone", "Doggin' Around", "Big Swing Face", "East of the Sun", "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to" and others of similar ilk.
Mick Hill had some Buck Clayton/Roy Eldridge inspired moments occasionally shooting for the stars and, at other times, delicately muted.
Trombone player Terry, he of the Dalton Dynasty, blew smooth with a rich Urbie Green-like tone whilst Tony Winder played good middle-period tenor.
Aided and abetted by a solid rhythm section that soloed well in their own right it made for an enjoyable afternoon.
During the interval George Laing, still recovering from his fall from a roof, limped exquisitely through "Tramp" and "Georgia" before Teresa sang some and Miles Watson hollored some blues choruses.
I left for the ferry with a spring in my step which, upon reaching the ferry landing turned once more into a rolling gait. I swear I thought the landing was going to capsize!
It was even worse on board as wind and wave tossed the ferry from port to starboard and back again. I half expected a band to strike up with "For Those In Peril on the Sea."
Amazingly the craft made it to South Shields and the passengers gave thanks for their deliverance.
Lance.

A Grand Night for Stinging

The long awaited Sting @ Durham Cathedral was interesting and at times quite fascinating. It is debatable if there was any jazz content apart from the cameo, non-playing appearance by his former associates from 30 plus years ago (see photo on previous post) but that didn't detract from the music which was distinctly folk-based and Northern folk at that.
For me the outstanding moments were the fiddling duels between Kathryn Tickell and her fellow fiddler whose name I didn't catch - surprise! surprise! none of the musicians were named in the credits, perhaps THAT was the jazz influence.
Sting came across as a warmer person than he sometimes does which I am sure stemmed from his return to once familiar settings but I felt his voice deserved better than a lot of the material to hand.
Still, to his credit, it's the first hour-long TV program I've stuck with until the end for many a long day. That was something the Quentin Crisp program the night previous failed to achieve!
Lance.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sting @ Durham Cathedral

BBC One tonight at 10:50 PM has a programme featuring Sting performing at Durham Cathedral. It also takes a look at his earlier, jazzier, days when he re-visits some of his old haunts. He is pictured here with old buddies from Phoenix Jazzmen, Newcastle Big Band and Last Exit. (l-r): Ronnie Young (Phoenix), Gordon Solomon (Phoenix, NBB), Sting, John Hedley (Phoenix, NBB, Last Exit).
Should be interesting for local guys.
Lance (NBB).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lee Konitz in Birmingham

My apologies to Peter Bacon for not mentioning it earlier but his review of the Lee Konitz gig in Birmingham at the beginning of the month is well worth reading. It's an excellent review so evocative you can almost hear the music. Check it out on his blog The Jazz Breakfast. Nice one Peter. Lance.

In Walked Bud(vivar) - Jazz Café alternate Saturdays.

Popular bop/swing/jump/jive band Budvivar play the Jazz Café on Newcastle's Pink Lane Saturday Jan. 2nd and alternative Saturdays after that viz: 16th, 30th etc.
The Safe Sextet, Don Forbes' hardblowing outfit, continue to play every Friday.
Lance.

Way Out West Down South

Our chums in the capital, LondonJazz, have drawn my attention to a venue, The Orange Tree, (not to be confused with the Cherry Tree in Jesmond of which more later) in Richmond, Surrey. This Wednesday night jazzerie (my own word!) featuring various jazz musicians living in and around West London and includes some very big names indeed.
On their website is a promotional video featuring some of the names including snippets of Tim Whitehead, Julian Siegal, Anita Wardell and our old buddy Vasilis Xenopoulos.
To view and play click here.
Looks and sounds good.
However, closer to home, tonight (Monday Dec. 28) our own 'jazzerie' the Cherry Tree Restaurant on Osborne Rd., Jesmond, where Vasy played in one of our "Gigs of the Year", features the Nick Pride Trio with vocals by Lauren Shepherd. That's Nick on guitar, Ian Paterson bass, Oz Cassidy drums and the delectable Lauren the icing on this particular Christmas cake.
Mouth-watering -- just like the menu.
Lance.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in New Orleans

For the last word on Christmas Clarineting click here. The gal can play and then some! Thanks to John Taylor for this discovery - book her for Ashington! Lance.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meet Danny Wilson and the Quest for the Holy Grail

The last time I saw "Meet Danny Wilson" I was 13 years old which, believe you me, was a long time ago.
Since then, it has become a personal quest - my own 'Holy Grail' - to see it again and to own it on video or DVD.
No joy - the film never showed in either medium, didn't even turn up on TCM.
Eventually I reluctantly gave up searching - mission impossible I thought. After all there were more important things to occupy the mind - then guess what? Santa Claus, prompted by some friends, handed it over to me today - at long last the old movie was out on DVD.
After expressing much joy and many thank-you's I suddenly became frightened. After all this time what if I was disappointed? The critics in the intervening years had shown it no mercy - many saying it was almost as bad as "The Kissing Bandit" which was very bad indeed. Sinatra's career was in the doldrums at the time (1951), he was broke, he was the popular whipping boy of the 'musical' press.
Yet, having made such an impression on me - admitedly at an impressionable age - I felt it must have something otherwise why would I have carried this memory for all those years?
I plucked up courage and played it. From the opening black and white shot of Brooklyn Bridge over the titles I felt a warm glow as the memories came flooding back. Amazingly I could even remember some of the dialogue!
Like the scene in the police cell when Frank (Danny Wilson) asks a guitar player in the next cell what he's in for.
"I hit one of them bebop guys in the goatee" replies the guitarist.
"Where's your guitar?" asks Frank.
"That's what I hit him with" says the guitarist. He then plays the blues on harmonica with Sinatra singing a rare blues chorus.
It was the songs, I guess, that did it. He was moving from the crooner days to the swinging Capital/Reprise era still with a foot in both camps.
"I've Got A Crush on You", "She's Funny That Way", "All of Me", "When You're Smiling", "You're a Sweetheart", "How Deep is the Ocean", "Old Black Magic" and a duet with Shelley Winters on "A Good Man is Hard To Find". Is there another Sinatra film with a better selection?
The truth is, as a film, it's a black and white B movie that, looked at through today's eyes, is as corny as they come.
I wasn't looking at it through today's eyes I doubt I ever will.
Perhaps I should make a copy for when this disc is worn out.
Thank you friends.
Lance.

Wynton Marsalis Joins the Jazz Police

Remember the story about the Spanish jazz fan who demanded his money back at a festival in Spain because, he claimed, Larry Ochs wasn't playing real jazz?
Well it seems as though Wynton Marsalis agrees with him and wants to contact the senor to congratulate him on his stance and to reward him with a whole heap of his, Marsalis', recordings.
So if you read this and are that hombre or know who he is please contact Giles Tremlett of the Guardian.
The full story and Giles Tremlett's email address are at the other end of this link.
Thanks to Debra Milne for this information.
Lance.

Pete King is Dead - Long Live Pete King!

This morning's Daily Express publishes its obituary of the late Pete King, former saxophone player and co-founder of Ronnie Scott's Club. It's a standard piece not unlike several others I've read. However, where this one differs is in its choice of photo.
The Pete King pictured in the article is not the deceased Pete King but the saxophone playing Pete King who is still alive and regarded by many as Britains finest alto saxophonist.
Why did I just know that sooner or later this was bound to happen?!
Lance

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The EMCEE 5 Remembered.

This is an interesting link (foot of posting) to an Emcee 5 discography. No surprising hidden gems emerge as I think their total output was captured on an LP and an EP - their national reputation was based on the latter disc. North East fans of course knew of them from the old Down Beat club.
The reviews of the EP remind us of the impact they made at the time; unknown for a provincial jazz group in those days. The Brothers Carr, Gary Cox and Ronnie Stephenson went on to national and international acclaim. Sadly, Ian Carr and Ronnie Stephenson are no longer with us. Gary Cox, Ray Harley informs me, is a near neighbour of his in Portugal.
I'm not quite sure how bassist Malcolm Cecil became involved as he was a London musician who'd played with the Jazz Couriers and is, I understand, still active. John O' Carroll I think was the original bass player. It is said the band took it's name from Malcolm Cecil's initials but I'd have been tempted to think it was from Mike Carr's initials. Can anyone clarify?
Lance.

Another Harley hits town - this time it's Ray with the Maine Street Jazzmen at Rosie Malone's

Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/hca/vcl), Jim McBriarty (clt), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
Good belting Dixieland and ne'er a reindeer or a sleigh bell in sight. With the addition of Ray Harley on trumpet the Maine Streeters went for the jugular. This is how older style jazz should sound. A driving rhythm section and a front-line who kick.
Honestly, my feet never stopped tapping as Ray led them to the promised land.
Reminiscent of say Yank Lawson or Billy Butterfield, Harley swung through "Tin Roof Blues", "Jazz Me Blues", Royal Garden Blues" and other standards. Must be the name - Ray Harley, Harley Johnson, Harley Davidson, Harley Street all quality acts.
Herbie, Jim, Malcolm, Alan and Tommy were obviously inspired by the trumpet player as they all blew out of their respective skulls. Once again Malcolm's two-fisted approach filled out the sound as well as delivering some strong punchy solos.
Olive too was 'on song' - "I double dare you" to say otherwise!
The place was crowded, the place was jumping, the place was full of dames dancing, Lords a Leaping - it was Xmas - it was a fun afternoon. Only thing missing was the applecake.
They do it all over again on New Years Eve.
Lance.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cookin' @ The Chilli - Budvivar, Take it to the Bridge & Applecake

Debra Milne (vcl), Stuart Findon, Fiona Littlewood (ten), Nicola Weaver (bar), Chris Finch (pno), Jim Crinson (bs), Eric Stutt (dms). + Harley Johnson.
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Dave Weisser (tpt/vcl/oven), Barrie Ascroft (pno), Jim Crinson (bs), Eric Stutt (dms). + Stuart Findon, Harley Johnson.
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This is the way it should be every week at the Chilli - good crowd, good music and good food.
Well the music's always good, but the room isn't always crowded and the food is usually a packet of cheese and onion from the bar. However, tonight it's Xmas so all three were in evidence.
Let's talk food.
If you ain't tasted Dave Weisser's applecake then you ain't tasted nothin'! I know I've just laid a double negative on you - let the grammar police arrest me - but please, officer, don't take the applecake away. Yes Dave Weisser made this delicacy with his own fair(ish) hands from a recipe that was probably handed down to him by a backwoodsman out in the Ozarks.
Eat your heart out Jamie Oliver this is the real deal.
As if that wasn't enough we had a stomping set from Budvivar who set the pulses racing with a mix of bebop and jive. In the latter category "Hit That Jive Jack" (dedicated to yours truly thank you Debs) ticked all the right boxes - this was musical applecake. The boppers ranged from the opening instrumental "Groovin' High" through Debra's vocal on "Billie's Bounce" to her Horace Silver work-outs on "The Jody Grind" - or should it be re-named "The Geordie Grind"? - and "Nica's Dream".
Debra sang well tonight and the three saxes were pound-sound. Nicola's baritone brings a depth to the band that they didn't quite achieve with the trombone. Fiona, all legs tonight, her lighter sound provided a contrast to Nicola's lyricism and Stuart's gut-wrenching "soulo" flights. At times they came across like a Ray Charles sax section.
Chris, risen from his sickbed, on piano had some impressive moments as did Harley who took over for "Round Midnight".
In the engine room, Jim, on five string fretless, and Eric powered the ship along with relentless precision. I think Eric has changed his cymbal set-up around it sounded good.
Eric and Jim played non-stop both before, during and after the main event.
Dave was in fine voice on "Stella By Starlight" and "Darn That Dream". Dream coincided with the arrival of Paul Bream prompting someone to suggest he should sing "Darn That Bream"!
Stuart stayed on for the jam and Harley rode the night out on "Blue Bossa".
An excellent evening and well attended - they must have heard about the applecake.
Next session - the Alan Glen Trio on Jan 6, 2010.
Check out the Photos. Lance.
PS: Woody Herman did "Applehoney", Gerry Mulligan, "Applecore" but which British band recorded "Applecake"? A clue. Monk played trombone on the track.

Vieux Carre Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. December 23rd.

Brian Bennett (banjo), Fred Rowe (trumpet & vocals), Barry Soulsby (clarinet & vocals), Lawrence McBriarty (trombone), Johnny Handle (keyboards & vocals), Dave Percy (electric bass) & Fred Thompson (drums & vocals).
Today's regular Wednesday lunchtime session with the Vieux Carre was party time down by the seaside. A good number of folk turned out just a couple of days before the festive season sees all musical activities cease - well, for twenty four hours at least.
Garish waistcoats donned, garish bow ties tied and off we went with many familiar tunes honed to near perfection by the VCJ.
Fred Rowe was in fine form on trumpet and vocals. Barry Soulsby played ever inventive flowing lines, Lawrence McBriarty knows all the tunes and from time to time growled, friendly like, on plunger mute.
'Careless Love', 'Mandy' and a hot 'Dr. Jazz' with Fred Thompson taking the vocals, were just some of the tunes on offer today.
I half expected a buffet - I don't know why - but it didn't materialise. The interval raffle prizes included a painting by local artist Eddie Russell - it went first pick (a good choice by the lucky winning ticket holder).
The second set began with Johnny Handle taking to the stage to play two tunes - 'Keep Yer Feet Still Geordie Hinny' and a Handle original, a rag called 'Malvern Swings'.
Handle played double bass with the Vieux Carre way back. He then went on to write his name in folk music history as founder of Folk Song and Ballad (the club thrives half a century on, although now known as the Bridge Folk Club) and as a member of the High Level Ranters. It was great to hear him play some jazz (it would have been better still to have heard him play the upright piano tucked away around the corner).
Silly Santa hats and beards were afixed yet they didn't stop trumpeter Rowe and 'bone man McBriarty from stoking it up on 'Jingle Bells'. Dave Percy, depping on bass, fitted in well and MC Mr.Bennett kept the band in order and things to time.
More Vieux Carre festive goings-on can be had on Monday night (28th) at the Corner House in Heaton and again next Wednesday afternoon (30th) at the Crescent Club.
Russell.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Xmas! Tomorrow (Wednesday Dec. 23) you can Carouse at Culler, Party at the Porthole, Chill-out at the Chilli

With at least 3 jazz parties tomorrow Xmas is well and truly upon us. In the afternoon, those party animals the Vieux Carré Jazzmen are skateboarding down to the Crescent Club in Cullercoats for their latest piss-up. Folk legend Johnny Handle, not to be confused with Friedrich Handel who is dead, is on piano and, as per Monday, I'm sure there will be an abundance of food on the pool table.
Up river at the Porthole Laurie Brown's mainstream men will be keeping the flag flying or should it be swinging? most certainly yes.
In the evening, Budvivar are the guests at Dave Weisser's "Take it to the Bridge" session in the Chilli on Chillingham Road, Heaton. Expect some sitting in from Harley "Thelonious" Johnson who helped Budvivar out at the weekend when Chris Finch was indisposed.
I'll happily fore-go my Acker Spelk's for this one. What am I saying?
See you there or there or there.
Lance.
PS: If you live at Eighton Banks, where the air is rarified, the Maine Street Jazzmen with Olive will come a-wassailing at the Lambton Arms around 1:00 pm providing they get up Sheriff Hill. I should point out that Sheriff Hill is a steep hill and not a member of the constabulary.
PPS: The Maine Street are also doing it at Rosie Malone's on Xmas Eve lunchtime - bring on the mince pies and the mulled brown ale.

Happy Holiday From Henry.

Received this cartoon card from Bassist Henry Grimes recently @ Gateshead Old Town Hall with the Profound Sound Trio.
Lance.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Matthew Bourne - Christophe de Bezenac + Spelk @ The Bridge. December 20th.

Matthew Bourne (keyboards) & Christophe de Bezenac (alto saxophone) + Spelk: Chris Sharkey (guitar), Andy Champion (electric bass) & Adrian Tilbrook (drums). Splinter @ The Bridge offered another double bill last night in the form of local heroes Spelk and from Leeds the improvising duo of Bourne and de Bezenac.
Spelk played the first set to a less than full house; perhaps the close proximity to Christmas and the inclement weather deterred some from venturing into town.
Adrian Tilbrook uses a larger than usual kit set-up in this power trio allowing him to meet all eventualities and respond to the musical ideas thrust at him by bassist Champion and guitarist Sharkey.
Andy Champion clearly enjoys this sort of stuff, laying down massive dub-like beats, Tilbrook locks onto the vibe and Sharkey shimmers and shines brightly (the man is a star). This is music of high intensity, demanding intense concentration from all three participants and audience alike. The music is loud and good fun. Yes - good fun! And why not ? I am a paid-up member of the Jazz Police but if you don't like Spelk then close the door, put your slippers on and listen to your Acker Bilk CDs.
The second set by the Leeds based duo of Bourne and de Bezenac emerged as a late contender for gig of the year. Bourne has a background in contemporary classical composition and de Bezenac studied at the Strasbourg Conservatoire and has subsequently worked with compatriot Marc Ducret (guitarist Ducret was on Tyneside in October to take part in the On the Outside Festival), Chicagoan Ken Vandermark (another name known to local gig - goers and soon to be heard again at the Sage in January) and others. Bourne ranged from Keith Jarrett in neo-classical mode to Cecil Taylor by way of stride-like patterns to Bourne himself. Altoist de Bezenac, a member of the sensational trio VD, is a masterful player with a percussive approach infused with squeaks and squawks, his saxophone bickering with and challenging Bourne's keyboard.
A dazzling, virtuosic dialogue ensued between the two. The visual element enhanced the performance; as with much improvisation seeing as well as hearing is an important aspect of the occasion. A third and final set united all five musicians in a magical noise fest. The boys had retired to the bar so it was left to Adrian Tilbrook to get the show on the road. One by one the others joined him on stage. Champion and de Bezenac decided to blow the roof of the place, Bourne capitulated and took the same route. Sharkey, a Nosferatu-like presence, wearing an amused countenance, wound up and unleashed metal mayhem. The sustained, screaming cachophony was quite thrilling.
Gig of the year anyone?
Splinter @ The Bridge reconvenes in January with a co-promotion with Jazz North East presenting the wonderful Paul Edis Sextet on Sunday 17th January, 7.30.p.m.. Russell

Cullercoats Jazz Party

Mike Durham (tpt/vcl), Iain MacAulay (tmb/vcl), Derek Fleck (alt/clt/bjo), Brian Chester (pno), J.C.Hallam (bs/tmb), Jim McKeown (dms). + John Brindell (vcl), Doris Fenn (bjo), Teresa Armstrong(vcl).
This was one of those fun-packed afternoons that makes Xmas so merry. Hats, santa outfits, sausage rolls, quiche slices, sandwiches and banjos abounded.
Vocals were to the fore with John Brindell (excuse me if I've got his surname wrong) starting the ball rolling with a song that may have been entitled "I Wonder Who's Kissing The Sheikh of Araby?" Next came octegenarium Teresa who followed "You Were Meant For Me" with "Falling in Love Again" complete with Marlene Dietrich outfit and actions.
The band played "Doctor Jazz", Derek Fleck "Stranger on the Shore" and an assortment of part-time percussionists accompanied Iain's vocal on "Enjoy Yourself".
Enjoy myself I did - the sandwiches were nice and fresh.
Lance.

R.I.P. Pete King

Sad news just announced on LondonJazz is that Pete King, co-founder of Ronnie Scott's, died yesterday aged 80. Obituary. Lance.

That Was The Year That Was

Nothing is ever clear-cut in the jazz world and the "Sound of Surprise" covers more than just the actual notes played.
Paul Edis - not just a first-class pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer but, in company with Adrian Tilbrook, via Jazz Action and the NEJC, an organiser and promoter too - has seen full and empty houses at the Side Café in Newcastle and at the hotel in East Rainton. The latter venue failed because, 'they' - the 'fans' said, it is too far from Newcastle. Yet 'they' managed to fill the room for free gigs for Julien Siegal and Tony Kofi but couldn't make it for local players. In their shortsightedness 'they' failed to see that by supporting the local talent they were laying down the foundation for more visits by big name musicians.
The latest Jazz Action venture is the Sunday night sessions at The Bridge Hotel in Newcastle. So far it has been well-attended so fingers crossed that the jazz-public doesn't do another U-turn.
Dave Weisser's Take it to the Bridge's regular Wednesday night at 'The Chilli' on Chillingham Road, Heaton is another paradox. Apart from the more than capable regular band, sitters-in drop by and there is a monthly set by the Alan Glen Trio, Budvivar and other big-hitting locals.
If Alan Glen changed his name to, say, Al Glendino, acquired an American accent and a Green Card he would be playing Birdland such is the man's ability. As it is, so-called 'Modern fans', seem to find the £1 admission too much yet happily pay £20+ at The Sage.
Crazy!
One currently successful venue is The Cherry Tree Restaurant on Jesmond's Osborne Road. The Monday night gig which couples Cordon Bleu Cuisine with first rate, accessible, modern jazz at reasonable prices deservedly draws a good crowd. Whether they are there because of or despite the jazz is a question that only time will tell.
Elsewhere, Roly Veitch at Blaydon and Mike Durham in North Shields strive to juggle diminishing grants and gate money to bring quality classic and mainstream jazz to their localities. Neither will say it is easy. Highlights for me at Blaydon were Vasilis Xenopolous (who also stormed the Cherry Tree), Janusz Carmello, John Hallam and intimate sets by Zoe Gilby/Andy Champion and Roly Veitch's trio with Noel Dennis and Neil Harland.
Over in North Shields, a return visit by French band Nany Swing, Keith Nicholl's Blue Devils with Jeff Barnhart and Dutch violin wizard Tim Kliphuis were some of the highlights.
An unconnected event was Ruth Lambert's highly successful CD launch in the same venue (The Saville Exchange).
Jazz North East and Schmazz at the Cluny had their usual innovative programmes of which I hope to have more in seperate articles.
The Festival scene was, for this year at least, quite healthy. The Sage Jazz Festival produced some of the most outstanding music the region has known with two superb sessions by Sheila Jordan - almost certainly our 'Gig of the Year'.
Joshua Redman Trio, Guy Barker's Big Band were just two other outstanding performances.
This year's festival also looks promising.
I enjoyed a third successive visit to Scarborough - the music and the ambience are just something else with too many great concerts to list here.
The Whitley Bay Jazz Festival again went well and this coming year looks to be even better however, unless a replacement can be found for Festival Director Mike Durham it will be the last bringing to an end a glorious celebration of classic jazz.
Likewise, at the other end of the musical spectrum, Gateshead's "On The Outside" Festival proved a great hit with fans of free improvisation but, sadly, a withdrawal of funding may contribute to its demise.
The trad scene continued much as before with The Maine Street Jazzmen, The Vieux Carré Jazzmen and the Rae Brothers dominating. Many of the sessions are lunchtime gigs.
There were, of course low points this year - very low points indeed.
The death of Jazz North East supremo Chris Yates being a major one. Sax player Darren Grainger and drummer Marshall Walker were two other deaths that hit many of us hard.
Nationally, but with local interest, Ian Carr's death was also a sad moment. An anniversary celebration of his life takes place at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall on Feb 23 which should be in all of our diaries. Ian was, arguably, the north-east's greatest jazz ambassador.
Internationally, the passing of Chris Connor, Blossom Dearie, Bud Shank, George Russell, Les Paul, Charlie Mariano...
Merry Xmas everyone.
Lance.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Andy Sheppard, Jambone @ The Sage Dec. 19.

Hey Lance. I guessed the snow kept you in but I had the job of playing with Andy Sheppard which I couldn't refuse.
I've uploaded some images as well of the gig. I stand out with the white shirt as I totally got the wrong message about the dress code, but I guess the white shirt and black trousers tells people that I'm a pianist; so therefore I'll blend pretty easily with the keys!
Gig was a success. We performed two of Andy's tunes lasting about 45-50 mins; "Gas and Air" (from his Blue Note album 'Delivery Suite') and another called "Adventures of the Rave Trade" which started off with a dark and sophisticated Blues waltz (sharp 9's and stuff like that!) and then I led everybody into this Mingus-type 6/8 groove with solos from vibes, sax, scretching guitar and piano as well as a free improv bit at the end for everyone in the band to go crazy. Best Jambone gig up to date.
Harley Johnson.

Sunday Specials

Pivotal figure in today's offerings is ANDY CHAMPION. His intended, ZOE GILBY, is the extra-special dessert at Fenwicks' Tivoli Restaurant on Northumberland St, Newcastle and no doubt Andy will be to hand with bass fiddle at the ready. Mouth-watering.
In the evening Andy moves into deeper waters as part of SPELK which is, in turn, part of the SPLINTER at the Bridge Hotel sessions.
Spelk (Chris Sharkey (gtr/electronics), Andy Champion (bs) and Adrian Tilbrook (dms)) along with the MATHEW BOURNE - CHRISTOPHE de BEZENEC keyboard and sax duo are the follow-up to last weeks well-attended inaugural Sunday night session.
Hopefully the weather won't be a deterrent.
Lance.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Sage Decision

Well I'm afraid the weather kept me in tonight - I was all set for The Sage when the snow fell so, wimp that I am, I stayed in and listened to Bob Berg, Andrew Hill, Art Blakey and Joe Temperley on CD and very enjoyable it was too.*
My apologies to Jambone, Harley and Andy Sheppard for not getting to the gig as I was really looking forward to hearing Jambone on the Concourse - I have to be honest and say the length of the evening concert deterred me almost as much as the snow did!
So, anyone out there who is of a stronger constituition than me who made it to either or both of the sessions, I look forward to hearing from you.
Lance.
* I also listened to the Ray Ellington Quartet. Remember him - his son (Lance) was on at the Sage recently. With Judd Proctor (gtr), Dick Katz (pno), Peter McGurk (bs) and Ray on drums and vocals they made a tidy sound.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saturday Night @ The Sage, Gateshead.

This looks good at The Sage tomorrow night. Two sessions as below. ANDY SHEPPARD & JAMBONE: The Sage, Gateshead. 6.00pm Free. Concourse. Jambone is well known at the Sage for its nurturing of emerging talent such as Monkian pianist Harley Johnson and, under the guidance of Andy Sheppard, should give an exciting performance. ----- ANDY SHEPPARD’S FIVE SIDED DREAM: Andy Sheppard (saxes); Rita Marcotulli (piano); Michel Benita (bass); Kuljit Bhamra (tabla); Seb Rochford (drums). The Sage, Gateshead. This is quite an adventurous work that may run until midnight. 8.00pm. £16.50. 0191 443 4661. Lance. PS: Don't forget that BUDVIVAR make their Saturday night debut at The Jazz Café on Pink Lane, Newcastle.

Barnes & Williams + Blaydon Jazz Quartet @ Blaydon Jazz Club. December 17th.

John Barnes (alto sax, clarinet & vocals), Roy Williams (trombone & vocals), Roly Veitch (guitar), Jeremy McMurray (piano), Mick Shoulder (double bass) & Billy Shield (drums). Last night was party time at Blaydon Jazz Club. Snowflakes beginning to fall, it was good to get indoors ready to feast on jazz and the promise of much good food. The evergreens of John Barnes and Roy Williams made the trip 'up north' to guest with the Blaydon regulars of Roly, Jeremy, Billy and on this occasion the versatile Mick Shoulder on bass.
Gershwin's 'Strike Up the Band' or, as Roy Williams would have us believe, 'Bike Up the Strand', opened the show to the delight of a large turnout in the concert room. 'Let's Get Away From it All' followed, then there were anecdotes and jokes a-plenty and before you knew it the first set had flown by concluding with Williams singing 'Tangerine'.
The interval buffet was, as ever, one of the highlights of the year at Blaydon. All tucked in and did their best. The raffle offered ten prizes - all went to other homes.
The music resumed with a beautiful rendition of Johnny Green's 'Out of Nowhere'; you know things are going well when Roly comps and smiles with contentment as he did on this and many other tunes including Hoagy's 'Stardust'.
'Deed I Do' was a good one for Barnes (playing alto) and Williams in tandem and the evening drew to a close rather appropriately with a tune associated with and written by Mel Tormé - 'The Christmas Song'. Russell
PS: Photo courtesy of Derrick Cogger.

King is Dead - Long Live the King (Sisters)

Yvonne King Burch died Dec. 13 age 89. One of the King Sisters vocal group - some would say that, after the Boswell Sisters, they were the very best of the sister groups that flourished in the 40's and 50's - Yvonne died after a fall.
The Kings' harmony tended to be more modern than other groups such as the Andrews Sisters and they were the acknowledged inspiration for Manhattan Transfer who later used many of the King girls' arrangements. Many of their discs were done with guitarist Alvino Rey's Orchestra. Rey was married to one of the sisters. This 1941 clip of "Java Jive" shows the girls at their peak.
However the whole family were very talented - watch this 1969 YouTube Blues Medley .
RIP.
Lance.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Maine Street Jazzmen @ Rosie Malone's

Olive Rudd (vcl), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl/hca), Jim McBriarty (clt/vcl), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms).
When the band kicked off with "Avalon" and followed up with "Rockaby Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" I feared we were in for an afternoon of Al Jolson. However, Herbie, who never misses a trick, whipped an X-Factor winner Joe McElderry face mask in front of his own aging features to bring us right up to date.
Olive didn't need any face masks - she looks permanently young (ish) and was in good voice working out on her current faves "Keeping Out of Mischief Now", "Swing That Music", "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams", "All of Me".
Instrumentally, "Sweet Georgia Brown" stood out with Herbie excelling on chrom. harp. Malcolm rolled out the barrel-house and Jimmy Mac blew with an urbane sophistication that kept the music just outside of the trad zone.
All in all, a pleasant afternoon in congenial company. However, a wintry blast and a cancelled Metro going home persuaded me not to drive to Blaydon tonight.
My apologies to Roly and co.
Lance.

Goodbyem to Hyem

The Hyem Jazz Club, further along Chilli Road, which opened last week closed this week after only two sessions. Atholl Stewart who founded the club said he regretted the management hadn't allowed it more time to get established. Lance.

Too Marvelous for Words - Alan Glen Trio and Take It To The Bridge @ The Chilli. Dec 16.

Alan Glen (pno), John Pope (bs), David Carnegie (dms).
-----
Dave Weisser (tpt/vcl/whistling), Barrie Ascroft (pno), Jim Crinson (bs), Eric Stutt (dms) + Tom Dibb (gtr), James ? (gtr), David Carnegie (pno).
There simply isn't enough superlatives left in 'Mr Webster's Dictionary' to describe the Alan Glen Trio. Nor his rarely repeated selection of tunes.
"On Green Dolphin Street", "Over The Rainbow", Clifford Brown's "Sandu", "Four", "Darn That Dream", "Thou Swell" and a semi-original called, appropriately enough, "Something Borrowed, Something Blue" a piece composed by Alan that leans, he told me, in places on possibly a Hampton Hawes composition.
The ideas flowed faster from the Glen fingers than the rain that was 'stair-rodding' outside did from the heavens. It was a roller coaster ride we wished would never end. When it did end, after an encore on "If I Were a Bell", the adrenalin was coursing boy was that 'drenny' coursing!
John Pope has slotted in well with the trio the rich fullness of sound providing a solid foundation. He also solos with humour and invention.
On drums, David Carnegie drove things along - awesome power, agility and kickass confidence are his middle names. Trading punches in the "Fours" routine that inevitably concluded the swingers he kept his compatriots on their toes and, as ever, his featured solo was dexterity personified.
-----
Earlier, Take It To The Bridge had created the relaxed Chilli ambience with Dave in good voice on "A Foggy Day" he also threw in some whistling on "Well You Needn't" (but he did!).
Tom Dibb (say hello to your folks for me Tom - we met at East Rainton), who is currently foregoing the charms of his native Rotherham, sat in and played some fine guitar culminating in a wild blast on "Billie's Bounce" in the later Jam Session. Drummer Carnegie played piano on this one - his solo was pretty outré too.
Former regular James took over on guitar for "Beautiful Love" and "Stella By Starlight" a couple of tunes he is not totally unfamiliar with.
Eric Stutt booted things along before and after the main event as did Jim and Barrie on bass and piano respectively.
It was a good night topped off by my winning of the raffled CD - a compillation of Bob Berg tracks some of which featured Mike Stern on guitar. I'm sure this was arranged by Roly Veitch and God from their distant habitats - Roly over there in Blaydon and God up there sheltering from the rain - as Roly and I had been talking about Mike Stern only a couple of days previous and I'd confessed my unfamiliarity with the guitarist's work. R and G move in mysterious ways their wonders to perform. In Roly's case those wonders will be performed when he presents and hopefully sits in with Roy Williams and Johnny Barnes at tonight's (Thursday Dec. 17) Xmas Party at Blaydon - another unmissable event. Be there.
Talking Xmas parties - next Wednesday is party night at the Chilli with Budvivar.
Lance.
(As a show of respect a photo of the late Darren Grainger was displayed at the back of the stage. Nice gesture Dave.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ALAN GLEN AT THE CHILLI TONIGHT - A lovely way to spend an evening.

Tonight sees the monthly visit by the Alan Glen Trio to 'The Chilli' - Chillingham Pub, Chillingham Road, Heaton. With John Pope on bass and David Carnegie on drums this is about as close to being note perfect as you're likely to find this side of your Oscar Peterson/Bud Powell CDs.
With the 'Take It To The Bridge' boys opening up and a jam to close I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.
Lance.

Merry Xmas

Brian Chester, trombonist, keyboardist, spoonist sent his Xmas greetings to Bebop Spoken Here with this wry graphic observation.
Lance.

If Destroyed Still True @ The Cluny. December 15th.

If Destroyed Still True: Tommy Evans (drums), Simon Kaylor (tenor & soprano saxophones), Simon Beddoe (trumpet & flugelhorn), Nick Tyson (guitar), Johnny Tomlinson (keyboards) & Seth Bennett (double bass). If Destroyed Still True, a young sextet, hail from Leeds. They are part of the Yorkshire city's hothouse collective known as LIMA. Last night was their first visit to Newcastle and it was an auspicious occasion - the tenth anniversary celebrations of Schmazz @ The Cluny.
Original composition is central to the ethos of a Schmazz gig and IDST brought a book full of band compositions: the principal composers, Tommy Evans (band leader and drummer) and guitarist Nick Tyson wrote for the collective sound of the sextet.
The opening number was plagued by sound difficulties yet, in no time, Charlie, Schmazz's resident sound engineer, had put things right to the satisfaction of the musicians.
One enduring 'difficulty' was the volume of the horns (Kaylor and Beddoe); too loud to appreciate fully the contributions of the bass and drums team of Evans and bassist Seth Bennett. The band sound was very much that of contemporary European jazz incorporating folk elements (Balkan to Celtic to English) and changing time signatures. Solos were shared around with genial keyboards player Johnny Tomlinson ranging from boppish runs to Bach-like counterpoint, Simons Kaylor and Beddoe played powerful sax (especially on tenor) and trumpet respectively. Nick Tyson, winner of a Parliamentary Jazz Award, exhibited an eclectic approach in his guitar playing and double bassist Bennett provided the highlight of the evening taking an exemplary solo on the final number.
The performance was well received by the partygoing audience. It won't be too long before IDST make a return visit.
Russell.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Thank you" from Laura, Stephen & Kate Yates.

'Our thanks for the many messages of sympathy from musicians and jazz enthusiasts, local and national. Especially appreciated are the tributes paid to Chris, not only for his commitment to jazz, but to him as a person. Thanks also to those who attended the funeral and contributed so generously to the two charities Amnesty and UNICEF, each of which will receive £260.'
Laura, Stephen and Kate. Chris Yates - The Saddest Day. Chris Yates - A Great Servant to Jazz.

Tessa Smith recommends (on Facebook) ...

... that all Newcastle/Northumberland-based friends with this evening free head to The Cluny in Byker to listen to IDST. It'll most definitely be worth it.
Good thinking Tessa - If Destroyed Still True are a good band that I heard at the Scarborough Jazz Festival earlier this year. A good way to celebrate ten years of "Schmazz @ The Cluny".
Lance.

Durham (Mike that is) on Tyne Jazz News.

Mike Durham, trumpeter, raconteur, and jazz entrepreneur has updated me on things north of the River (Tyne).
The Whitley Bay Jazz Festival, which is to pre-modernists what Lourdes is to Catholics and dyslectic cricket fans, is already taking bookings for what may well be the last running of this popular event. Already 20% of the tickets have gone so don't delay but click here to find out what's on and what's to pay.
The Saville Exchange, North Shields' programme is also announced for the next six months with a balanced mix of the known and not so well known. Icing on this particular cake must be the appearance of American jazz vocalist Daryl Sherman with Digby Fairweather. Click here for more.
Trinity Church, Gosforth, after a successful first season return for more with Daryl and Digby appearing here the night after their anticipated triumph at the Saville. The future looks rosy for fans of the one day game. The Jan-June program can be seen near the foot of left hand column.
Thanks Mike.
Lance.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chomping @ The Cherry Tree. Jim Birkett Trio with Sue Ferris.

Jim Birkett (gtr), Sue Ferris (ten/flt), Neil Harland (bs), Rob Walker (dms).
Delightful, the word that springs to mind. Refreshing is another.
No furrowed brows required tonight this is good, honest, straight down the middle jazz and no cheating - as a certain Mr Basie was once quoted as saying when asked to define his kind of music - it's mine too.
The band sans Sue opened up with, to quote Jim, "Stomping at the Cherry Tree" or should it have been "Chomping at the Cherry Tree" because, as I have said before, the food is very chompworthy.
Sue came on and blew "All of Me" shades of Lester or Zoot and the perfect accoutrement to Scottish Smoked Salmon with Shallots, Capers, Sour Cream and Lemon Rye Bread. I'm not sure if Sue influenced my tastebuds or the Scottish Salmon coloured my eardrums - either way they worked well together.
"Don't Get Around Much Anymore" - not true in my case - had some very masculine tenor from Sue and I hope she will treat that as a compliment and not an overtly sexist remark. What I mean is the sound was big and booting as befits the song.
Paradoxically, on "Killing Me Softly With His Song", played on flute the feeling was totally feminine - OMG! Lance, when you're in a hole stop digging! Just shut up and eat your main course.
Let's talk turkey.
Roast turkey breast or should I say chest? Chipolata sausage, Winter Vegetables, Cranberries and Red Wine Sauce. In its own sweet way as palatable as "All The Things You Are". Jim had some flowing lines that dovetailed around Sue in a most fugue like fashion.
Interval time.
All of the tables appeared to be taken and the diners were generous with their applause. On the next table a guy was making a pass at his girlfriend by which I mean he was name-dropping Joe Pass then looking in the direction of Jim Birkett - knowledgeable crowd tonight.
Ron - the man who Barbicaned Rollins - was in, along with good lady and son. We chatted about Gunther Schuller's conclusion that Rollin's "Blue 7" from his "Saxophone Colossus" album was the perfect jazz solo - maybe.
Now Sue Ferris would be the last person to compare herself to Sonny Rollins - she's prettier for a start - but there were times during her solo on "On the Sunnyside of the Street" when I felt it would be impossible to select a better combination of notes.
Being Xmas, the obligatory seasonal tunes were played. "Xmas Song" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" being the chosen ones.
Now Xmas songs are much maligned among musicians but generally speaking they are darn good tunes that with different words would be year round standards.
The final "Wee Small Hours" delivered on flute was positively poetic and bore comparision to the Mulled Fruits and Ginger Ice Cream that I finished off with - both hit the spot.
A couple remarked as they left, "This place has a buzz about it."
I think she's right.
Lance.
PS: Not forgetting 'Mister Perfect' on bass and the sensitive drumming of Rob Walker - he too had an almost melodic solo on "Sunnyside of the Street".

Tonight at the Cherry Tree

Tonight at the Cherry Tree Restaurant, Jesmond promises to be rather special with the Jim Birkett Trio and Sue Ferris on sax. Expect some fine playing from all concerned and equally enjoyable food from the Xmas Table D'Hote menu.
Lance.

Farewell Darren

A good contingent of the friends of the late Darren Grainger filled the rainlashed crematoreum overlooking the Whitley Bay coast and St. Mary's Lighthouse.
Several of the musicians from The Chilli were there to show their support for Darren's partner Marta. 'The Lad' - Adam Hastings - travelled up from Leeds, Dave Weisser, Allan, Eric, Jim Crinson and myself were among the mourners.
Also present, and now embracing Buddhism, was Ted Ray, Sinatra clone and former emcee at the Kismet Club in South Shields.
RIP Darren - Be strong Marta.
Lance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Double Knockout @ The Bridge!

Legohead: (right) Lloyd Wright (gtr), David Francis (dms), Jon Proud (bs).
HCW: (left) Edd Carr (gtr), John Hirst (dms), Christos Worsley (bs).
The first Sunday evening jazz gig at the Bridge went off with a bang despite some early teething problems with amps, speakers, lights etc. which meant that the advertised 7:30 pm start seemed to be 'light years' away when John Hirst unleashed HCW's opener on the crowded room (yes the room was crowded!)
I didn't mind the delay as I was in the congenial company of Budvivar's Fiona and Chilli regular Norman Redhead - who is slowly but surely making a visual comeback.
I liked HCW when I first heard them at the Side Café, enjoyed them even more at last week's Jazzathon and today they appeared to be even tighter again.
John Hirst is an imaginative drummer; his approach is at times almost melodic and he has no shortage of technique.
Edd Carr sometimes strays further into the rock end of the jazz/rock genre than some people might prefer but I find he balances the equation very effectively.
On bass, Christos Worsley, laid back and relaxed, gets a really good sound and helps to make the balance just right.
One thing I like about Christos, apart from his playing is the fact that I usually have some chat with his dad (or is it his granda - maybe even his great grandf... sorry only joking) Johhny Worth aka Worsley aka Les Vandyke has had a long career in showbiz as singer/songwriter and is always entertaining company.
I digress. HCW did good.
David Francis I knew from Alter Ego, Jon Proud and Lloyd Wright I didn't know.
I know now.
Lloyd Wright is quite an incredible player. He is up there with them for technique and ideas. He also writes interesting tunes.
The outstanding moment for me, and for Roly too I guess was an original called "Getaway Driver". If ever an instrumental lived up to its title this was it. Dazzling runs in and around every inch of the fretboard of the Strat, sudden brief rests, explosive starts - this was a souped-up Pontiac burning up the Freeway.
It brought to my mind that legendary Alvin Lee solo at Woodstock but Roly, more guitar savvy than me, equated it to Brecker's Mike Stern. Whatever it was one helluva blast.
David on drums handled the sometimes awkward breaks superbly and soloed well. Jon Proud played good bass with a touch of humour in his Jingle Bell's quote. Everybody's quoting it this season.
Great night and so pleased to see such a good turnout.
Lance.

Jazz on a Sunday Night - Bridge Hotel, Newcastle

Tonight sees the start of the first regular Sunday night jazz gig in the area for some considerable time. In fact excluding dinner music settings such as the Cherry Tree I'm struggling to remember the last one - can anyone jog my memory?
It's a double header tonight with HCW (pictured), who helped to kickstart last week's Jazzathon and Legoland, whose drummer, David Francis, can be seen looking on at the edge of the picture. The other members are Lloyd Wright (gtr) & Jon Proud (bs).
As Russell has previously reported with relish the Bridge does some excellent 'real ales' - sounds like an unbeatable combination.
7:30 pm is the advertised time for blast off.
Lance.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gig of the Year

Chris Yates instigated the "Gig of the Year" on this site and set the ball rolling with his choice of Joshua Redman Trio/Guy Barker Big Band double bill at the Sage Jazz Festival.
Since then there has been support for, among others, Sheila Jordan at The Sage, Vasilous Xenopolous at Blaydon/Cherry Tree, Ryan Quigley Sextet at Scarborough Jazz Festival, Sonny Rollins at the Barbican and Alan Glen at the Chilli.
With the sad passing of Chris, and out of respect, perhaps those who haven't yet made their choice would do so. Whilst I prefer 1 per person, if you can't make up your mind go for two plus if possible a local North-east gig.
Lance.

Bebopp Danced There

I'm grateful to George Watt for this blast from the past.
The Imperia Palais De Danse was originally the Imperial PDD but, after a fire, the owners found that the restructured facade didn't have enough room to refit the old letters so they dropped the L and it became the Imperia.
To compensate, it would appear they added an extra P to Bebop.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Horn Dogs @ The Tyneside Irish Centre Dec. 10

The Horn Dogs at the Irish Centre were excellent. Graham Hardy made me feel at home as I was relief doorman for the night. (I paid my entry fee - as I do at The Elephant). Poor turn out. Unfortunately the audience was about the same size as the band and made up of family and friends. Paul Susans and the percussionists gave it that real New Orleans Swing. I did not realise they had a reed man. He fitted in very sympathetically with the all brass front line.
John.

JAZZ – That horrible oobly doobly stuff!!

As most of you know, we at Blaydon Jazz Club reached our 25th anniversary in Sept. The reason we have survived this long is, I think, by keeping the music very accessible. It may not always be the jazz purist’s cup of tea but this is our niche and it’s what our particular audience seem to want. We hoped that it might bring in new people whose appetite might be whetted for jazz in all it’s styles. As we received a small amount of funding (a new experience – thanks to Gateshead MBC/Grass Roots Grants) we took the opportunity to undertake a lot of promotion – posters all over the Tyne Valley area in shops, libraries etc, listings in Gateshead Council News (goes to every house in the borough) and A4 posters to all Gateshead MBC arts groups/network contacts. This as well as the usual jazz networking sources of info. We have had some great concerts this autumn well supported by the regular jazz aficionados but, amazingly, all the effort to bring in new people to give jazz a try has resulted in not one single ‘new’ person arriving at the door. I don’t know – we have to be thankful for the wonderful loyal folk who support us through thick and thin, and I guess we do it for them, but it makes you wonder. So tomorrow I’m going to buy 20 cans of lager and spend about 10 hours watching football on the telly, then some real talent on X-Factor, then I’ll probably go for a curry takeaway and ensure I throw the polystyrene carton and half eaten contents on the pavement somewhere before throwing up a bit further along the road back home English culture eh? You can’t beat it. Roly

Darren Grainger - Tonight's Chronicle.

Click here for Evening Chronicle obituary of Darren Grainger. Lance/Russell.

Bob Caswell + Blaydon Jazz Trio - 10/12/09

A freezing fog and late change of date for this gig contrived to reduce audience numbers but those that braved the fog were rewarded with a real treat. I have heard Bob sing several times now over recent years and can say he was on absolutely outstanding form this evening. Bob is a veteran of the dance band and big band era but equally at home in intimate cabaret type ‘trio + singer’ format. His delivery at times powerful, then tender – great breath control, diction etc.– he is an absolute pro. He waltzed effortlessly through a great selection of songbook classics, highlights for me being Michel Legrand’s ‘What are you doing the rest of your life’ and ‘I will wait for you’, a rip roaring ‘Old Man River’ and a version of ‘Misty’ that shifted from up tempo to slow ballad with ease. Jeremy McMurray too was on top form handling accompaniment duties with aplomb as well as some fine solos and features for the trio. Ably supported by the legendary Pete Ayton on bass and the listening drummer, Billy Shield. This was one of those concerts where the players just threw caution to the wind and delivered up a memorable evening of jazz – the rapturous applause at the end testified to that. Roly

Calling Signals & Raymond MacDonald/David Stackenas @ The Bridge Hotel. December 10th.

Raymond MacDonald (alto & soprano saxophones, whistling) & David Stackenas (guitars). Guitarist David Stackenas had a teaching/performance engagement at Newcastle University during the week and he stayed on to play a short set with Raymond MacDonald in the upstairs room of the Bridge Hotel. Stackenas plays acoustic guitars, often prepared, sometimes table - top. He has a prodigious technique combined with a robust approach (with or without a plectrum) which, at times, threatens the very survival of the instrument.
His style and technique have, to this listener's ears, certain elements of the country blues picker. MacDonald (recently on Tyneside to participate in the annual On the Outside Festival) listened to Stackenas, searching for an opening. His sound palette ranges from the reflective to all -out blowing, full of gutteral gestures and spittle (the Scot's occasional whistling served as a marked contrast to that which had gone before).
A good set. Calling Signals: Frode Gjerstad (clarinets & alto saxophone), Jon Corbett (trumpet, valve trombone & conch shell), Nick Stephens (double bass) & Paal Nilssen - Love (drums) A long - established quartet, albeit with one or two changes in personnel, Calling Signals come with quite some pedigree in the world of free jazz/improv. Norwegians Frode Gjerstad and Paal Nilssen-Love have helped establish a 'free' scene in their homeland and over the years have played with a 'who's who' of the music.
British double bassist Nick Stephens worked with legendary drummer, the late John Stevens, as indeed did Gjerstad. Stephen's compatriot Jon Corbett cut a figure resembling that of a trad trumpeter down at the Dog & Duck; north east readers will be able to picture Peter Wright (of the Vieux Carre) other readers will know of National Treasure Digby Fairweather - well Corbett sounded nothing like either of them!
Corbett's best work was in tandem with Nilssen-Love; the trumpeter firing volley after volley of notes as Nilssen-Love played with absolute authority behind the kit.
Tynesiders have been fortunate this year to hear, variously, drummers Paul Lovens, Mark Saunders, Gunter Sommer and now the outstanding Paal Nilssen-Love. Nick Stephens demonstrated his credentials in this exalted company and Gjerstad was particularly effective on alto, his clarinet playing was less inventive although this allowed Nilssen-Love space to fill with sticks and brushes, hitting an additional battery of things both metal and wood.
After the gig MacDonald said how much he had enjoyed playing the room. The Bridge beer offering on the night was exceptional; Big Lamp, a great micro brewery, supplied a seasonal beer called Embers (5.5 abv), it was quite simply, perfect.
Russell.

Calling Signals + MacDonald & Stakenas @ The Bridge Hotel.

Tonight we were spoilt for choice. Alison Moyet at The Sage, Horn Dogs at the Tyneside Irish Centre, Bob Caswell at Blaydon or Calling Signals + MacDonald and Stakenas at The Bridge.
Having recently re-joined the Jazz North East Committee I felt duty-bound to attend the latter event.
Hopefully, Russell will give us his take on the gig as it was totally beyond my comprehension.
If it hadn't been for the audience sitting looking profound and deadly serious I'd have thought it was a comedy act.
The irony of it is that there were brief flashes that indicated these guys could really play. Unfortunately those brief flashes were rarely executed simultaneously ('executed' how strangely appropriate that word seems...)
No, I'm afraid this parade has passed me by - does anyone have the number for the Jazz Police?
Lance.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Maine Street Jazzmen @ Rosie Malone's.

Herbie Hudson (tmb/hca/vcl), Jim McBriarty (clt), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
"Marching Through Georgia" saw Herbie singing the chorus seemingly from "Atlanta to the sea" as well as playing a rumbustuous trombone solo. Jim and Malcolm also chipped with admirable solos - General Robert E.Lee would have been proud of them, Sherman's dashing Yankee boys less. Tommy Graham drummed authentically - his finale was reminiscent of Stan Freeberg's "The Yellow Rose of Texas."
The ebullient Maine Street Men followed up with another Herbie vocal, this time on "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone". Herbie sang it with a degree of angst and I wondered if they were announcing their departure - perhaps to 'bring the jubilee' elsewhere. However, their were no such hidden agendas and the engagement continues to be ongoing - since April to be precise - and so it should. Where else can you listen to jazz in South Shields on a Thursday afternoon. As a matter of further interest real ales are currently £2 a pint on Thursdays.
Back to the music and Olive, as ever the icing on the cake, gave out with "All of Me". "Swing That Music" and "Keeping Out of Mischief Now" came later - the gal was in good voice today.
An enjoyable, albeit occasionally predictable, afternoon.
Lance.

Jailhouse Jazz

LondonJazz unearthed this story from the Guardian and perhaps carries a 'Tread Carefully' warning for our local promoters.
You can pass your own judgement by listening to the 'music' on LondonJazz.
Thanks again to our 'Friends in the South' for drawing this to our attention.
Lance.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

DARREN GRAINGER FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

The funeral of the much respected sax player Darren Grainger will take place on Monday Dec. 14 at Whitley Bay Crem. 11:00 AM.
Friends meeting at the funeral gates at 10:30 AM. Link to previous post and comments.
Lance.

Hazor, John Zorn and Paul Susans.

Rehearsing with the Chilli Road Band yesterday I encountered a piece entitled "Hazor" - subtitled "A funky Eastern ballad."
It was one of those minor key things that infiltrates your brain and entwines itself around your soul very evocatively. I pictured a harem and belly-dancing girls (I often do!)
The composer was John Zorn whom I'd never previously encountered but seems to be a musical mystic capable of blending various genre into an original form. Check him out on YouTube.
The other interesting point about last night's performance was that, beneath the composer's name, it said: "Arr. P.Susans."
I wonder - could this be the same Paul Susans who plays bass with Ruth at the Bascule as well as various other bands?
If so, congrats on a fine arrangement.
Lance.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hyem Jazz Club

Maureen Hall (vcl), Mac Rae (clt/vcl), Iain MacAulay (tmb/tpt/vcl), Mac Smith (pno), John Robinson (bs), Jim McKeown (dms). + Teresa Armstrong (vcl).
Hyem, formularly the Echo Bar on Chilli Road, opened its doors as a jazz venue tonight - don't ask me what the name means - featuring a spirited performance by Maureen Hall and Rendezvous Jazz.
With Mac Rae depping for Barry Soulsby on clarinet the music was very much in the New Orleans tradition although trombonist and part-time trumpet player Iain blew some Dorsey/Teagarden sounding trombone that belonged to a later era. His trumpet playing was gentle and quite mellow and he sang with some humour manipulating the lyrics of "I Want A Little Girl" to good effect.
Rendezvous Jazz get the right sound for what they do; Mac Smith's punchy piano-playing is very enjoyable and conducive to foot-tapping. Close your eyes and you could be in the Crescent City (or at least the Crescent Club).
The band had brought along a few followers from the coast which helped to fill out the sparse audience and they showed their approval.
As well as blowing some strident clarinet on "Rosetta", "Canal Street Blues" and "St. Louis Blues" Mac Rae sang a few but it was Maureen herself who took the vocal kudos with her take on an assortment of classic jazz standards.
That feisty lady Teresa Armstrong also chipped in with "Lonesome Road".
Circumstances decreed that I left during the second half and thus missed the big surprize ending that was promised. No doubt all will be revealed by Russell.
It's a promising start for the club and we wish promoter Atholl Stewart well in this venture.
We will do our best to promote it as indeed we try to support all jazz gigs - with or without acknowledgement - next week has sax/clarinet player Gavin Lee as the featured artist.
Lance.

A Message From Adrian Tilbrook

I'd like to take advantage of the Bebop Spoken Here blog to say a big thank you to all the people that came out on Sunday to support the musicians and also helped to launch 'Splinter'.
It was an absolutely brilliant way to start the new venture and I hope that everyone (musicians as well) will continue to support us. I have to say in hindsight (a wonderful thing!) that it was probably a bit too much for one sitting but I wanted to showcase as many bands as possible. When we do it again (and I've already been asked 'When') I'll probably limit it to 5 or six bands. All in all we had 10 bands in 10 hours (without EXM), ate 130 packets of crisps and burned 40 candles. The only criticism I can think of is that it would have been better if we had eaten the candles and burned the crisps! One again my sincere thanks to everyone for the goodwill and support - it was very much appreciated. Cheers Adrian PS: some photos of the day are on the Jazzaction website.

CHILLI CHILLED THIS WEEK

Don't show up at the Chilli tomorrow (Wednesday Dec. 9) as there is no performance by Take It To The Bridge this week. The room has been let out to a private party so the boys have a week to woodshed.
The following Wednesday - Dec. 16 - it is back to normal with an unmissable set by the Alan Glen Trio - Alan on piano, David Carnegie, drums and John Pope playing bass and wearing a cap simultaneously.
Dave and the gang open up and there will be a jam session to close.
A week later on Dec. 23 it is Xmas Party time with BUDVIVAR. Bring your Xmas Cracker or, failing that, a wife or girl friend.
Lance.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Night @ The Cherry Tree Restaurant, Jesmond

Stuart Collingwood (pno), Neil Harland (bs), Paul Smith (dms), Mo Scott (vcl).
Whilst I contemplated the appetising choice of starters from the Table D'Hote Xmas menu, Stu Collingwood had no such reservations - for his starter he went straight into "Sleigh Ride". It was bright and crisp and even - rather like what I imagine the Mustard Caesar Salad with Crisp Pancetta, Spring Onions and Soft Boiled Egg would be.
I don't know as, whilst I was deliberating between the Smoked Scottish Salmon with Shallots, Sour Cream & Lemon Rye Bread or the Prawn & Crayfish Cocktail with Marie Rose Sauce and Lemon, Mo Scott stepped up and 'Took a Chance On Love" followed by "Blue Skies" and "Embraceable You".
Even though, at this stage she was in 'let's not drown out the diners' mode the voice still came across with that distinctive edge that tells you there is a blues mama inside that petite frame just crying to be set free - she would be... later.
I went for the Prawn & Crayfish Cocktail just as Mo "Got the World on a String" - both were excellent - the Marie Rose Sauce giving the Prawn & Crayfish the kind of backing Mo was getting from Stu and the boys.
"Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You" told anyone who didn't know that this was Mo's 'Main Course'.
I don't mean the song, I mean the idiom. In a previous life Mo must have been born in Texas raised in Tennessee because you don't sing like that if you were born in say Surbiton and raised in Borehamwood.
Talking main courses - my Rib Eye Steak with Garden Leaves, French Fries & Bearnaise Sauce went down a treat accompanied by Mo's rousing version of "Squeeze Me" and her plaintive wailing on "Don't Explain".
The band, the chef and Mo were moving into top gear.
Mulled Fruits with Gingerbread Ice Cream combined with the final blast on "Route 66" to make this a rather special evening. The crowded room demanded more and they got more - blues that is.
I may have concentrated on Mo and food - pig that I am - but Stuart Collingwood was also on form even although, by his standards, he was relatively restrained. When he did say 'to hell with the wallpaper music' you knew you were hearing something. Neil, the most laid back guy in the business couldn't hit a bum note if he was paid to, and Paul, driving without overpowering, quietly swung throughout.
Monday nights here really are the business.
Next week it is Jim Birkett trio with Sue Ferris on saxes. Now for starters, a bossa novarish "Wave" accompanied by a souffle...
Lance.

More from Sunday's 'Jazzathon'

Sunday's Jazz Action Jazzathon was dedicated to Chris Yates, Secretary of Jazz North East, who died suddenly, little over a week before this, the launch event of a new weekly Sunday evening gig.
Chris knew many of the musicians performing during the ten hours of music and he would have loved to have heard them at a very well attended event.
Splinter Group, a 'splinter group' formed from Voice of the North, played the opening set and much of the material was familiar. It is good to report that a top class band in the region has instantly recognisable numbers in the pad. John Warren's work was represented and Paul Edis' 'For Bill' was a sensitive, lovingly crafted tune in homage to Bill Evans.
HCW (Pictured - John Hirst, Edd Carr & Christos Worsley) is drummer John Hirst's band yet it was guitarist Carr who was the focal point in this trio. Carr has beautiful feel, timing and craft in his construction of a solo. Electric bassist Worsley is, refreshingly, not overly concerned with being a Jaco Wannabee. He has his own sound and as with Hirst is intent on ensuring the group dynamic is to the fore.
ACV (Andy Champion's monster vehicle) is a treat. Champion, Tilbrook, Edis, Williams and Wilson are, collectively, ACV. The best in the business, assembled to play Mr.C's material, are soon to release a CD - buy it - it will be worth every penny. Loud, punk - jazz. Recommended. Saxophonics (Keith Robinson - alto, Steve Summers - alto, Graeme Wilson - tenor, Niall Armstrong - baritone) are a saxophone quartet as good as any you will hear. Bobby Watson's material and a tune from his 29th Street comrade Ed Jackson featured in the set list together with Graeme Wilson's tunes and arrangements. Saxophonics are as good as their US counterparts. Again, recommended.
The day drew to a close with hard bop outfit Alter Ego roaring along. A good way to go out.
Russell

Rendezvous Jazz @ The Piper, Cullercoats. December 5th.

Maureen Hall (vocals), Mac Smith (piano), Barry Soulsby (clarinet & vocals), Iain MacAulay (trombone, bagpipes & vocals), Alan Smith (trumpet & flugelhorn), John Robinson (double bass) & Jim McKeown (drums) + second set Liz Bacon (clarinet), Doris Fenn (banjo). Saturday night was Christmas party night at the Piper. I arrived in Cullercoats just in time for rain clouds over the North Sea to chase me up Farringdon Road. Cullercoats in winter is an inhospitable place to be so the promise of a pint, a buffet and some jazz made the trip worthwhile. Seats all but taken, however, I managed to get seated at the back of the room near the bar and within striking distance of the buffet table. 'At the Jazz Band Ball' got things under way with guest trumpeter Alan Smith playing strong lead in a cracking frontline of Smith, Soulsby & MacAulay. 'Careless Love', usually one for Maureen to sing, was, on this occasion, taken by MacAulay with nice muted trumpet from Smith. A first set highlight was 'Swing that Music'. The tune was given a great workout with telling contributions from the three-strong frontline (Smith playing flugel), anchor man John Robinson and Jimmy McKeown swinging it mightily (with brushes too!). So good was the number it had this listener thinking of Buck Clayton with Humph's band! The interval buffet was a feast to feed the five thousand. All present did their best to see it off yet it seemed little impression was made on the food mountain (doggy bags were available). The raffle offered no fewer than sixteen prizes. The odds looked good, All numbers drawn , I went home empty-handed. The second set introduced clarinetist Liz Bacon and the redoubtable Doris Fenn on banjo. Bacon and Soulsby paired well on 'Bourbon Street Parade', MacAulay sang, in 12 bar format, 'Life is Rosey', band leader Maureen Hall sang huskily all night (she sounded good!) and Barry Soulsby did comic justice to Christmas Day in the Work House (aka 'St. James' Infirmary'). There was a hat parade (Doris Fenn led the merry dance) and the finale was down to Scot Iain MacAulay and his pipes - 'Saints' and 'Jingle Bells' sending us on our merry way. January's first Sautrday in the month gig at the Piper will be on the second Saturday (January 9th, 8.30.p.m.,£2.00. at the door). Maureen and 'the boys' can next be heard well before then,indeed your next opportunity is tomorrow night (Tuesday 8th) at Hyem (formerly Echo Bar) on Chillingham Road in Heaton. Admission is free. Hyem Jazz Club is a new venture - it would be nice to see it well supported. Russell

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
PS:I don't care what your political views are - you can love or hate Cameron, Clegg, Milliband, Farage, Genghis Khan or Julius Caesar - just don't air them here!
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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