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Bebop Spoken There

Stan Kenton: "Bands with guts will play what they like; a tonal picture of the American way of life...everyday sounds put to music. In two years time no one will remember what "Home on the Range" was like." - (Down Beat November 19, 1947).

Bobby Sanabria: “Many young players today are technically brilliant but lack historical perspective.” – (Jazz Times November 2014).

Bebop Spoken There Archives.

Today Thursday November 27.

Afternoon.
VIEUX CARRE JAZZMEN - The Millstone, Haddricks Mill Rd., South Gosforth, NE3 1QL. 1:00pm. 0191 2853429. FREE.
New Orleans in nice pub with 4 real ales, good food and a banjo!
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DOMINIC J.MARSHALL TRIO - King's Hall, Newcastle Uni. 1.10pm.
Marshall (pno); Sam Vicary (bs); Sam Gardner (dms).
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AN IMPROVISATION COURSE FOR MUSICIANS - Unitarian church, Ellison Place, Newcastle NE1 8XG. 1pm-3pm. 7 week course £40.
Steve Glendinning is the Guru in this inspiring enterprise. Week 5.
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JAZZ APPRECIATION - Unitarian church, Ellison Place, Newcastle NE1 8XG. 3pm - 5pm. 7 week course £40.
Steve Glendinning is again at the helm lecturing on the music we love and much more. Week 5.
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Evening
MAINE STREET JAZZMEN - Potters Wheel, Sunniside, NE16 5EE. 8.30pm. Free.
Good Time jazz with vocals by Olive.
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POCKET JAZZ ORCHESTRA - Ship, Church Lane, Redmarshall, Stockton TS21 1EP. 8pm.
Jeremy McMurray, Peter Ayton, Paul Smith and guests.
Monthly - Tonight's the night!
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STRICTLY SMOKIN' BIG BAND - The Millstone, Haddricks Mill Rd., South Gosforth, NE3 1QL. 7pm. Free.
Monthly - Tonight's the night!
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THE TEES HOT CLUB - Dorman's, Oxford Rd., Linthorpe, Middlesborough, TS5 5DT. 01642 823813. 9pm. Free admission.
Gypsy jazz with guests Ray Dales (alt); Kevin Eland (tpt).
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THE PILGRIM ST. SET - Hoochie Coochie, 54 Pilgrim St.,Newcastle NE1 6SF. 8pm Free. Cocktails 2 for 1 till 10pm.
Monthly Groove with Paul Edis, Richard Burns, Gary Turner, Paul Susans and Rob Walker. Back Dec. 18? Because of proximity to Xmas best check first.
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TBA - St. Joseph's CMS Club, Birtley. 8.15pm. £3/£2.50.
Monthly - Back Dec. 4.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

CD Review - Chick Corea/Gary Burton - Hot House.

Chick Corea (pno); Gary Burton (vbs). + Harlem String Quartet.
A highly productive disc with the two keyboardists complementing each other's line in an almost Bach-like way. Sort of a contemporary fugue, never more so than on Eleanor Rigby taken much faster than the original Beatles tempo. It hasn't such a dark sense of foreboding as the original but instead is more urgent and less poignant as if the lonely Eleanor has at last found a life!
Hot House is present day bebop - Imagine if say Parker and Gillespie, at Massey Hall, had played their solos simultaneously. The result may have been similar to this. Monk's Light Blue - a new one on me - is an excellent composition and both guys do it justice.
Perhaps the most interesting track is Corea's own, Mozart Goes Dancing. Helped along by the Harlem String Quartet this is like MJQ on Speed. In fact, because of the piano/vibes set up much of the disc creates an MJQ feel but with less gentility and more urgency. This isn't a criticism of either - both groups have their place in the upper echelons.
My Ship is given a less maudlin treatment than it gets from vocalists and Richard Rodgers' tune  benefits from its lack of words.
Two Jobim tunes - Once I Loved and Chega de Saudade entered the duo's individual repertoire when they worked at different times with Stan Getz back in the 1960s.
Brubeck's Strange Meadowlark, Bill Evans' Time Remembered and Can't We Be Friends are three well known jazz standards that serve as the icing on a very nicely cooked musical cake - the latter tune being, for me, very tasty indeed!.
Hot House by Chick Corea and Gary Burton is released by Concordjazz on April 2 prior to their live concert at The Barbican on April 11.
It can be pre-ordered from Amazon (£11.05) post free.
Lance.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Customs House Big Band w. Ruth Lambert @ The Customs House, South Shields.

Kevin Eland, Mick Hill, Ken DeVere, Jay Smith tpts); Gareth Weaver, Chris Kurji-Smith, Keiron Parnaby, Peter Morgan (M.D.) (tmbs); Jill Brett, Elaine Willis (alt); Alan Marshall, Amber Reeve (ten); Chris Kaberry (bar); Bill Brittain (pno); Roy Willis (gtr); Alan Smith (bs); David Francis dms); Ruth Lambert (vcl).
What is there to say about this combination of band and singer? Pre-concert Ruth confessed to having a sore throat - Ruth, baby, make sure you have a sore throat every time you sing! You were superb. Loved your gowns. The first one reminded me of some curtains we once had - looked better on you than they did on our window! Cheek To Cheek was perfect.
The band too were in top form - Have You Met Miss Jones? bounced along nicely and Kevin Eland's flugel horn feature on Blue was much more colourful than the title - it was a positive kaleidoscope of variant hues.
Monkeysuckle Rose - a chart by the late Mike Gilby - has a theme that conjures up an image of what might have happened if Thelonious Monk and Les Dawson had got together to write a chart of Honeysuckle Rose whilst having a taste or a sniff! It is surreal - supposedly inspired by Walton's Facade. Perhaps Walton too was on a trip.
Having said all that, once Jill, Alan, Mick and Roy had their say and the rhythm section hit the right groove it swiung as indeed everything Mike wrote did - eventually! Love him, and his arrangements, madly -  RIP.
There was more, so much more like Ruth singing Let's Face The Music and Dance - now in a lamé gown - and I Get a Kick Out of You. Ruth, we got a kick out of you!
Hunting Wabbits - a fugue-like theme - was another delight as we watched and heard the Gordon Goodwin arrangement gradually develop from harmless frippery into a full blown lollapalooza!
Too much to mention in detail save that Kev blew great lead, Mick soloed well, Alan and Jill did the biz, the rhythm section would have saved The Titanic and Peter is a natural if they ever revived Kay Kyser's College of Musical Knowledge (My grandfather told me about it!).
A great gig and you can catch the band again for free! On Tuesday April 3 at the New Crown Hotel, South Shields. 7:30pm. It's an open rehearsal followed by a concert.
April 3 also happens to be Doris Day's 88th birthday so maybe Ruth will pay tribute...
Photos.
Lance..

The Big Bands Are Back!

After Jason Isaacs and the Dave Connolly Big Band at The City Hall, The Smokin' Big Band at GIJF, The Punchbowl and next week at Hoochie Coochie tonight we have The Customs House Big Band at, appropriately enough, The Customs House, South Shields. The band always seem to raise their game when they are playing 'at home' and tonight promises to be a real treat particulary with Ruth Lambert, as ever, handling the vocals.
It's a 7:30pm start so if anyone cares to join me in The Steamboat beforehand and say hello please do.
Lance.

Jason Isaacs - Swing Fever. Newcastle City Hall, Saturday March 24.

Jason Isaacs (vcl) w. Dave Connelly Big Band inc.  Lewis Watson, Ray Dales, Mick Donnelly (reeds); Neil Harland (bs), Simon Ferry (dms), Stu Collingwood (keys). 
Photo courtesy of Bish.
JASON Isaacs must have been a happy man after Saturday night’s polished performance at the City Hall - he’s landed a recording contract on the back of it - but no happier than his growing legions of fans for whom he put on a cracking show.
Backed by the Dave Connolly Big Band, Isaacs made the night go with a rollicking swing. I’ve seen him a good half a dozen times at this level of venue, and tonight was the show where, for me, he really came of age, putting on an evening that could give the likes of big-time boy Michael Buble a run for his money, which is saying something.
Jason’s voice has matured to a level where he can handle the smoothest crooning tunes with goose-pimple finesse, but can also belt out classics from the Swing Fever era in a way that makes the stringent no-dance policy at the venue look mean.
He’s become a very confident entertainer, too; funny, visual (check out those high kicks) and very, very charming - what more could his adoring lady and male fans want? An album, perhaps.
Well, it looks like that’s now on the cards, too. Former Metro Radio boss Giles Squire has taken a shine to Jason, having promised him that if he filled the venue, he’d line up a recording.
The night kicked off with a thumping rendition of In The Mood played by a very capable big band that doubles with Jason all over the country these days. Enter Isaacs, bounding onto the stage with Luck Be A Lady, and succession of classics from the American Songbook, all of them very beautifully sung, including the well-loved Mr Bojangles, a polished swing version of Stevie Wonder’s For Once In My Life, and a lovely How Do You Like Your Eggs In The Morning duet.
Special guest Val Boyers was impressive in many ways, certainly not least for her lovely voice, but you had to admire her sheer courage for getting on stage in the first place, never having sung to more than 100 or so people before in her life. Replacing Faye Tozer from the supergroup Steps, Val won auditions that sought to find an unknown talent from the region and offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play the venue.
The energy levels wracked up a notch further during the second set, with Jason and the big band on fire, and the audience in full party mood. What fun, what an entertainer, what a reaction with 1,000 eager voices accompanying his Minnie the Moocher and The Wonder of You.
Two-and-a-half hours of top class entertainment culminated in a pitch perfect My Way. Isaacs has taken the best loved songs of all time, and, as the guys from the TV judging panels would say, he’s made them his own. No easy task: next stop, the Albert Hall, so rumour has it. Tyneside will be behind him every step of the way.
Link to Evening Chronicle feature.
Rosie Waller

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ The Punchbowl, Jesmond Thursday 29 March

The last Thursday in the month rehearsal session in the lounge of the Punchbowl on Jesmond Road in Newcastle is the ideal opportunity to hear a cracking big band - on this occasion twenty of them! - working out arrangements in a relaxed environment. Charts old and new – Love for Sale and Oh Lady be Good to Wonderwall and Feeling Good (excellent vocal from James Hedley) – served to illustrate the breadth of material and depth of talent in the ranks of Michael Lamb’s Strictly Smokin’ Big Band. Tenor player Paul Gowland and American ex-pat trumpeter Pete Tanton excelled on Bobby Timmons’ Moanin’
A good number of customers were there to listen including three new converts to big band jazz - one of them had chanced upon the band’s February rehearsal night and suitably impressed brought along partner and friend to this month’s session! Two hours flew by, first-rate drummer Guy Swinton announced the band’s next public engagement (Hoochie Coochie, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, Thursday April 5th , 8:00 pm prompt, FREE admission) and, having enjoyed a pint of Deuchar’s IPA, it was time to head into town to catch the second set of the jam session at the aforementioned Hoochie Coochie (check out Lance’s review). 
Another big band rehearsal night to look forward to is the Customs House Big Band’s regular first Tuesday in the month engagement at the New Crown in South Shields (Tuesday April 3rd, FREE admission) but before then you can hear the band in concert tonight (Friday) with the incomparable Ruth Lambert at HQ (aka The Customs House, South Shields).
Russell

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jam Session @ Hoochie Coochie


Pete Gilligan (pno); Mark Williams (gtr); Paul Grainger (bs);  Dan Reed (dms). Lindsay Hannon, Carly McKee (vcls).

The quartet opened with Night Train that got things rolling nicely along. Pete and Mark in blues mode, Dan and Paul fuelling the engine. Next stop was Powellville and Bud's Bubble which was worthy of the composer himself. Mark, to quote Paul, was "heavily featured" on How Insensitive which, paradoxically, wasn't! Mark was in great form displaying much sensitivity on this most beautiful of Bossa. The guitarist seems to be continually evolving - bar owner Warren agreed.
The set finished with more Bud Powell - Hallucinations. Great tune and terrific rendition. The guys had hit the right groove tonight alright.
A bottle of London Pride was handed down to me and off we went for the second set.
This had vocal virtuoso Lindsey joining the ensemble for You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To, a hard, rockin' blues - Talkin' 'bout My Baby and more bebop with Night in Tunisia. 
Lindsay was in good voice tonight as was Carly McKee who gave out with the inevitable Summertime and It Don't Mean a Thing before duetting with Lindsay on Cheek to Cheek. This was a war of attrition with both girls going for the jugular! Honours even(ish).
The set concluded with Blues For Pat (Metheny).
I had hoped for a few horn players to show but up to this point it was only the two girls although I did note a guy with a trumpet case so maybe there was more to follow in the third set but the number 27 bus doesn't take these things into consideration so I reluctantly left.. 
Lance.

New research on pioneering digital music project aims to expand audience engagement across the UK

The Sage, Gateshead, is one of several venues involved with this interesting and pioneering digital music project.
To learn more please click here for a full description and further links.
Thanks to Sebastian Scotney of LondonJazz for drawing this "doorstep" project to my attention.
Hopefully it's taxpayers' money well spent.
Lance.

Coming up at Blaydon Jazz Club next Thursday.

Hello everyone. our next concert is on Thurs 5th April. Featuring the Zoe Gilby Quintet. Usual 8.30 start - £5 
Zoe is now getting to be a well known and much respected jazz singer far and wide.
Playing at jazz fests and clubs all over the UK incl the prestigious Manchester Jazz Fest coming up.
Her quintet features Mark Williams on guitar (someone else gaining national recognition and accolades), a young alto sax player Caroline Bagley fresh out of the legendary Leeds College of Music, a superb young drummer Richard Brown from Teeside and in the absence of Andy Champion, who is away next week, its the great Neil Harland on double bass. Meanwhile keep enjoying the sunshine.
Roly.

Earl Scruggs, Banjo Legend Dies.

Hardly within the scope of this blog yet Earl Scruggs was such a revered and innovative musician that his passing cannot be allowed to go unmentioned. He revolutionised the approach to picking the five string (G) banjo and influenced many Bluegrass and Country players.
He also invented Scruggs tuning pegs which made different banjo tunings easier to effect.
Best known for his work with Lester Flatt the duo one many awards.
Flatt died in 1979.
Earl Scruggs died March 28, 2012 aged 88.
By coincidence the same day that The Sage released details of its Americana Festival of which the music of Earl Scruggs provided a deep influence.
RIP.
Lance.

Lost Weekend

Well now that the GIJF (was it the 8th or the 9th?) is over it's time to reflect on the coverage we've given this one - all I can say is that, in my opinion, it was AWESOME! Russell, Ann and myself covered just about every concert of note as well as ensuring that the Sage Bar and the bar staff at the Central were kept busy.
I think our coverage this year was second to none and we all deserve a pat on wherever it is we like to be patted!
Lance.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – Blacktop + Spelk Sunday March 25

Blacktop: Pat Thomas (keyboards & electronics), Orphy Robinson (marimba) & Steve Williamson (tenor & soprano saxophones.)
Spelk: Chris Sharkey (guitar), Andy Champion (electric bass) & Adrian Tilbrook (drums)
The Sage in association with Jazz North East presented the final event of the 2012 festival and as has become tradition, the free jazz/improv end of the jazz spectrum took centre stage. Two trios – Blacktop and Spelk – played to a well attended hall. 
The benchmark was set by Spelk. Performances by the trio are few and far between. One suspects that, by design, there is little preparation with a ‘let’s go for it’ approach. Bassist Andy Champion and drummer Adrian Tilbrook, key figures on the regional scene, linked-up with Gateshead born Chris Sharkey (guitar) and it was as though they had been touring relentlessly for weeks on end. They were at it from the off. Champion’s killer electric bass riffs rattled around the room, Tilbrook’s bass drum pedals pushed to breaking point as Sharkey shot from the hip, balancing a-top pedals, writhing, pulling the trigger with sharp-shooter swagger. It is never just a gig with Spelk, it is an event, an occasion. Wherever they surface next be there and be prepared to take cover. 
Blacktop is another occasional happening. The prodigiously talented Pat Thomas and Orphy Robinson have worked together over the years whilst saxophonist Steve Williamson has once more become an increasingly visible figure on the scene. His days with the Jazz Warriors brought him to the attention of a wider jazz public before going off to explore other (12 inch) grooves. A natural chemistry in the world of improv can be allusive and the inventive Thomas took command, eager to instigate a change of direction during the one hour performance. Robinson and Williamson offered repeated motifs which were frequently and abruptly interrupted by Thomas’ arresting laptop contributions.
Russell.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Groove-A-Matics are Canada Bound!

Local band The Groove-A-Matics (featuring Johnny Whitehill) from Gateshead who won the North East heat in St. Peter's Social Club, Walker, have gone on to win outright the National Final of the New Brunswick Battle of the Blues contest held in The Garage, Highbury, London. Canada Look out! The band will appear at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival held in New Brunswick later this year.
Thanks to Amanda, her mobile and Facebook for this quick result.
Lance.

Lewis Watson Quartet @ The Cherry Tree. Monday March 26.

Lewis Watson (ten); Paul Edis (pno); Paul Susans (bs); Rob Walker (dms).
Photo courtesy of Jerry Edis.
The Cherrytree is evolving into a really excellent jazz venue. Somehow it has managed to combine being a very good restaurant with presenting the best of regional (and sometimes national) jazz musicians. 
For some reason,. much to its credit, it has become the favoured location in which to hear the elusive and excellent Lewis Watson and last night he was with Paul Edis, Paul Susans and Rob Walker. Although the advertising said the Lew Watson Quartet, I was very pleased to see that it was Lewis who was actually playing. I'm not sure if this was a rebranding exercise or a cunning disguise but I don't think it works. It's a bit like talking about Johnnie Coltrane...I last heard Lewis and Paul play together in an improvised session during the day long gig at the Lit and Phil last year and they really do play well together. The beauty about the Cherrytree is that for the jazz fan, you get to hear great undiluted jazz, and both Lewis and Paul were playing excellently and very well supported by Paul and Rob. While at the same time, those who are only interested in the food carry on regardless but without disrupting the music. Last night there were at least two tables where people chatted away oblivious to the music, while the rest of us feasted on some great jazz.
The other thing I like is that most of the time the musicians just play and don't engage in long conversations with the audience. In fact I think the only comment made by Lewis all night was a laconic 'No' when an innocent member of the audience asked if he played requests. Sadly, circumstances out of my control meant I had to leave before the end so I never did hear if he played Greensleeves.
JC

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – Marius Neset Band Sunday March 25

Marius Neset (tenor and soprano saxophones), Ivo Neame (keyboards), Jasper Hoiby (double bass) & Anton Eger (drums)
Moving from one hall to another, from one performance to another with minutes to spare is, perhaps, not the best way to listen to music but this is often the way of it at major festivals. A triple bill culminating in an intense set from Ambrose Akinmusire left little time for reflection before Marius Neset hit everyone for six. Working with fellow Scandinavians Ivo Neame, Jasper Hoiby and Anton Eger (collectively Phronesis) the packed hall couldn’t quite believe what they were hearing. Imperious technique, lightening fast, this was some show. The ‘backing band’ – in no way a disparaging term in describing three accomplished improvisers – hung in there as Neset’s stunning solos defied belief leaving audience and musician breathless. Words are insufficient, hearing him is a must.
Russell

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Triple Bill - Sunday March 25

Robert Mitchell (pno); Tom Mason (bs); Richard Spaven (dms). 
(Photo courtesy of The Sage.)
This was the first of a triple bill and it set a high bar. I first heard Mitchell at Live Theatre when his phenomenal technique almost eclipsed Matana Roberts. Later, he showed at The Cluny and I recall the late Chris Yates gasping in awe at his technique - we all were!
Today that dynamic technique hasn't vanished, The hands move as fast as the average windmill in a tornado - maybe a little faster - and the ideas keep pace. Bass and Drums stay in the race. Wish I could remember the name of the nocturnal, classical, reverie he played, It didn't swing but, in its, own way, it did.
Lance. 
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Zoe Rahman (piano) Idris Rahman (clarinet) Gene Calderazzo (drums) Davide Mantovani (bass).
(Photo courtesy of llze Kitshoff.)
It just shows what women can do in jazz!  Two great concerts with women at the helm, Gwyneth Herbert on Saturday and Zoe Rahman on Sunday.  And both ladies have such engaging personalities, it was a joy to be there.
Zoe is touring the UK to mark the release of her fifth album Kindred Spirits, so most of the numbers were from that recording.  Zoe had an Irish Grandmother and the tunes were influenced by melodies of Ireland and the rhythms of jigs and reels, as well as the sounds of Indian music, which was especially noticeable on the clarinet.  And I’ve never seen such a ‘physical’ musician as this clarinettist, he swayed and stepped, legs wide apart, as if the clarinet was simply part of himself, which I suppose it is.
Numbers played included Go Where Glory Leads You, with a light rippling piano and Indian influenced clarinet;  My Heart Dances, which involved a sort of jig on the piano, eastern influences on the clarinet, drums and clarinet swapping bars, and a lively drum solo for good measure.  Then came Rise above, and There are People Here ,which featured a strong tune on the clarinet and a good solo from the bass.  These are all skilled musicians but Zoe shines out as the person at the helm.  Zoe told us that her Bengali father had passed away this week but was with us in spirit.  The show must go on, as they say.
All three levels of Hall 2 were full, so many people were glad that the show went on. 
Ann Alex. 
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Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone), Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (double bass) & Justin Brown (drums).
(Photo courtesy of Mark Savage).   
American trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, not yet thirty years of age, has worked with star names before his eighteenth birthday and been placed in several prestigious polls – featuring in the top twenty trumpeters in Downbeat’s readers’ poll, achieving a 4 star rating in the magazine’s Best CDs of 2011 for his latest release When the Heart Emerges Glistening and Jazz Times’ critics considered him Best Trumpet 2011 ahead of Terence Blanchard (one of his teachers) and Wynton Marsalis and the critics’ picks saw his CD bettered only by releases from Sonny Rollins and Joe Lovano. An impressive cv by any standards. 
Akinmusire’s festival appearance was his second visit to The Sage having previously worked as sideman to Jon Escreet. The quintet format for this latest concert appearance recalled an earlier era of front line horns listening then trading to and fro. Youthful pianist Sam Harris sketched chords, all the time looking to insert a line here and there. Bassist Harish Raghavan and Justin Brown (drums) exuded class throughout but the focus was on Akinmusire and tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III. Bandleader Akinmusire has assimilated the sounds of modern jazz trumpet – Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, the brilliance of Lee Morgan – to find a voice of his own in a crowded trumpeters’ market place. His next visit to Tyneside cannot come soon enough.
Russell              

GIJF - Jazz Journal Link.

Fred Grand has kindly sent me a link to his Festival review on the Jazz Journal website.
Lance.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – Beats & Pieces Big Band Saturday March 24

Ben Cottrell (Director), Anthony Brown, Sam Healey, Ben Watte (saxophones), Tim Cox, Simon Lodge, Paul Strachan (trombones), Owen Bryce, Adam Chatterton, Nick Walters (trumpets), Anton Hunter (guitar), Patrick Hurley (piano/Fender Rhodes), Harrison Wood & Finlay Panter (drums)
Much hyped, would they live up to expectations? A fourteen piece big band led by the energetic Ben Cottrell strolled out in t-shirts, jeans, trainers –  the look of the eternal student. ‘One, two, three, four’ BANG! What’s that about first impressions? This was a take-no-prisoners approach. This was Voice of the North Warp Factor Ten! Cottrell, leaping, twisting, encouraging his charges, never still. Soloists stepped up to the plate, fearless they were. The laptop Radiohead generation with music school chops cooked (old lingo) and then some. Tunes aplenty – including Jazzwalk and Broken - all exhilarating stuff and at the end of a memorable set we played spot the heavily disguised tune. Some of us got it – Let’s Dance…’put on your…’. Some of us danced our way over to the late night festival club venue and it wasn’t too long before those Manchester boys turned-up to blow some more into the wee small hours. Now then…if we could fit the band into the Bridge Hotel…
Russell   

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – Jam Session @ Central Bar. Saturday March 24.

Round midnight Gateshead’s Central Bar hosted the Gateshead International Jazz Festival’s late night jam session. The house band – Lindsay Hannon Plus – warmed-up with a few numbers before the first of the sitters-in was invited to get up and have a blow. Veteran Dave Weisser had brought along his flugelhorn, Andy Lee was keen as mustard to blow alto, then flute and Jazz Café resident bass player Paul Grainger took a spell in the engine room.Vocalist Lindsay Hannon kept things moving along (Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns a highlight) until the Beats and Pieces big band arrived hotfoot from their late-night festival gig across the road at the Sage.. A packed room kept the bar ticking over as the musicians opened cases, found a reed to their liking before being welcomed to the stand by Hannon and co. Hannon’s first rate piano player Alan Law swung it ferociously , bassist John Pope and drummer Mark Robertson worked like Trojans and were pleased to welcome the newcomers (a chance to visit the bar!). The boys from the big band (Royal Northern College of Music alumni) took it in turn - first keyboards man Patrick Hurley, bassist Harrison Wood and drummer Finlay Panter then numerous horn players had a blow. A good night. Twenty four hours earlier (ie. 3:00am-ish Friday) as the first of the two jam sessions was winding down in walked violinist Olivia Moore (a new name on the Tyneside jazz scene and a real talent). Watch this space for a review of Olivia’s CD.
Russell

Monday, March 26, 2012

Matt Anderson Quartet May 2012 U.K. Tour


“melodic standards and original tunes… impressive throughout” Jazz UK, Dec/Jan 2011/12

This coming May, the Matt Anderson Quartet will embark on an extensive U.K. tour which will take the band up and down the whole country, from Edinburgh in the north to London in the south.
Following their 2011 regional tour supported by Jazz Yorkshire and attracting the acclaim of audiences and promoters across the area, the Leeds-based foursome have cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting contemporary jazz ensembles in the North of England.
The quartet in its current form was set up by Jazz Yorkshire ‘Futures’ saxophonist Matt Anderson in 2010 after he graduated from Leeds College of Music with First Class Honours, also receiving the Sam Hood Rosebowl for Outstanding Performance (Jazz). He has since studied with Iain Ballamy and Stan Sulzmann, and was awarded ‘Young Musician of the Year’ at the Jazz Yorkshire Awards 2010.
Matt’s spacious and malleable compositions provide the perfect backdrop for the searching, flowing drumming of Sam Gardner and virtuosic guitar playing of Aubin Vanns. John Marley, one of the busiest bass players in the U.K., keeps the group thoroughly anchored during even their most intense moments. Playing mostly original music by Matt and the other band members, the music is informed by the great tradition of jazz saxophonists all the way from Sonny Rollins to Chris Cheek, whilst the band also takes interest in contemporary approaches to rhythm, harmony, melody and form.
You can follow the band’s progress on their tour blog, found at www.matt-anderson.org.uk, which will feature recorded samples of the gigs as they happen, photos and more.
13/5 – Pave, Hull – 01482 333181
16/5 – The Lescar, Sheffield – 0114 2668974
18/5 – Matt n’ Phreds, Manchester – 0161 8317002
20/5 – Splinter @ The Bridge, Newcastle – 0191 2326400
23/5 – Charlie Wright’s, London – 0207 4908345
26/5 – HEART, Leeds – 0113 2754548
27/5 – Whighams, Edinburgh – 0131 2258674
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Lance

Tonight @ The Cherry Tree

For those who aren't completely "jazzed-Out" after the Gateshead International Jazz Festival then the Cherry Tree Restaurant (9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond 0191 2399924) is the perfect place to unwound with good food, good wine and good music in the form of the Lewis Watson Quartet.
With tenorist Lewis is Paul Edis (pno); Paul Susans (bs) and Rob Walker (dms).
Lance.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Saturday March 24th Life Is for Living: The Peggy Lee Project Gwyneth Herbert and The Buck Clayton Legacy Band

Gwyneth Herbert (vcl); Alan Barnes, Matthias Seuffert (reeds); Menno Daams, Ian Smith (tpts); Adrian Fry (tmb); Martin Litton (pno); Martin Wheatley (gtr); Alyn Shipton (bs); Bobby Worth (dms) 
Photo courtesy of Sage, Gateshead.
The three tiers of Hall 2 were full for this very entertaining event which was suitable for all Peggy Lee fans, and others who like to hear popular songs, well sung. There was even a pre-concert talk, in which Gwyneth Herbert and bassist/broadcaster  Alyn Shipton, told us about the project, including a film clip of Peggy Lee with Judy Garland. The whole event was presided over by a large projected photograph of the good-looking lady herself, sitting with a pile of her own vinyl. I suspect Ms Lee would have been amused by all this.
Gwyneth Herbert was dressed for the occasion in a neat blue dress with white spots and trimmings (not as pictured), which was in the 1940’s style, so I’m told by Lance (fashion expert). During the talk, Ms Herbert had emphasised how Peggy Lee used to sing the lyrics to truly express the meaning, and yet managed to make the song her own. I think Ms Herbert also achieved this end, by celebrating the songs, without trying to sound like Peggy Lee herself.
The Buck Clayton Legacy Band kicked off with a stirring tune - The Bowery Bunch - then came The Black Sheep Blues, with effective solos from the rhythm section. Ms Herbert entered, doing a fast-paced Ridin’ High and an amusing I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City. Other songs included What’s New, (Originally recorded in 1956) with a well played trumpet solo; Peggy Lee’s first hit from the 1940’s, Why Don’t You Do Right?, which was a chance for Alan Barnes to recreate the Benny Goodman role. 
The songs were those from the 1940’s, 50’s and early 60’s. I would have loved to hear the classics that everyone knows, such as Till There Was You, and The Folks Who Live on the Hill, but those songs perhaps wouldn’t quite fit into the project's aims. We had Blues in the Night, and of course Fever, which is a hard act to follow, after Ms Lee’s version. Ms Herbert did well on the amusingly cynical cabaret type song Is That All There Is? a good version of Life is for Living, and the performance ended with an encore of It’s Been a Long, Long Time.
The band did their stuff really well, with many short solos during the instrumentals, especially on Sir Humphrey, A tune by Buck Clayton written in tribute to "Sir" Humphrey Lyttelton. The whole event was thoroughly enjoyable, and also educational for people interested in singing jazz.
Ann Alex.
(Photo by James Pfapp.)

Gateshead International Jazz Festival - Curtis Stigers Sunday March 25.

Curtis Stigers (vcl/ten);  John "Scrapper" Sneider (tpt); James Schofield (gtr); Matt Fries (pno); Keith Hall (dms); ? (bs).
(Photo courtesy of Andy Lawless.)
As anticipated in my CD review this concert was very much based around his latest album Let's Go Out Tonight. as well as some hits of yore and occasionally some jazz. mainly from Scrapper Sneider who, for me, blew the best trumpet of the whole weekend..
Stigers didn't play a lot of tenor but when he did it was good and the voice has that pleasant late night croak about it but, to my ears, this wasn't really what a jazz festival is all about.
Having said that, overall it's been a good festival with many highlights starting with  Zoe (Gilby) and culminating (for me) with Zoe (Rahman). Plus a lot of good things in-between.
Roll on next year (April 5 - 7)
Lance.

Maine Street Jazzmen change days.

Please note that the Maine Street Jazzmen's Monday lunchtime gig at The Porthole, North Shields has now moved to a Tuesday so there will be no session today but there will be tomorrow and every Tuesday from now on.
Lance.
MAINE STREET JAZZMEN - The Porthole, North Shields Ferry Landing. Tuesdays1:00pm. Free. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – some highlights

Every festival has highlights, and I’ve listed below some of my personal ones. I enjoyed all the top line acts that I saw, but it’s often the unexpected or quirky items that stay in your memory. Here goes, and in no particular order.
1/ I’d no sooner arrived at the concourse on Friday, than I was delighted to hear Zoe Gilby (vocals) and Andy Champion (bass) singing Leonard Cohen’s happiest song (and there aren’t many happy ones!), Dance Me To The End of Love, which is all about a Jewish wedding. It’s an interesting set of words with Biblical references and loads of vitality. Well chosen and sung, I hope Zoe and Andy never take this out of their repertoire.
2/ During the Marcus Roberts Trio performance, reviewed elsewhere, the band did an amazing version of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, which was loads of fun. I even heard hints of the circus bands that I used to listen to as a child, but I’d had a drink by then, so maybe I imagined that.
3/ I dropped in on The Sharkestra, to see the young band really enjoying themselves. They’d obviously put loads of work into this project. But we all got to do our bit, joining in with rhythmical clapping and a riff to sing. Great stuff. It may be a good idea to reintroduce the jam sessions to the Jazz Lounge. I remember this from the jazz festival of a few years back.
4/ I was enjoying Jambone on the concourse on Sunday, then up rose some beautiful melodic singing from 5 young people, doing a song about loneliness (I think), with words such as Why must you stay alone?, accompanied quietly by the band. Definitely a moving moment. I’d love to know if this was their own project or maybe something they’d done with Andy Sheppard. Information please.
Then just to round things off, Jamie Cullum happened to be the subject on Desert Island Discs this week, which was on Sunday Morning. It was broadcast before a live audience in Bristol, and Jamie played and sang some of his choices. Catch it on BBC iplayer.
Ann Alex.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – Saturday March 24 Trio Libero & Courtney Pine’s Europa

Trio Libero: Andy Sheppard (alto/sop), Michel Benita (bs), Sebastian Rochford (dms).
Andy Sheppard and Courtney Pine have come a long way since the days of the 1980s so-called British jazz boom. They are more than survivors, they are leading lights globally and their high profile ensured a large turn-out in the magnificent surroundings of the 1700 seat Hall One. Sheppard works in many contexts; commissioned projects to his enduring association with Carla Bley being but one. 
The Sage Gateshead saw him in the company of French bass virtuoso Michel Benita and a percussionist once of a neighbouring parish (Newcastle College) Sebasitian Rochford as Trio Libero. Sheppard alternated between alto and soprano saxophones in a low-level performance. The wonderful acoustics of the large space drew the listener to the music as if in a small recital room. Benita’s tasteful double bass playing worked in tandem with Rochford’s delicate brush work (this wasn’t Polar Bear – forget it). A performance of great warmth (with a brilliant, restrained solo from Rochford) won the affection of the audience.
Courtney Pine’s Europa: Courtney Pine (bass clarinet), Zoe Rahman (piano), Cameron Pierre (guitar & mandolin), Darren Taylor (double bass); Robert Fordjour (drums)
He came, he saw, he conquered. Pine the Sartorial strode the stage, playing to the crowd. Pine’s facility on the instrument is something to behold. Pine the Showman garnered applause for his band mates: Zoe Rahman, a band leader in her own right, Cameron Pierre, a wonderful guitarist (and no mug on mandolin) took centre stage (Pine off in the wings) to suggest that should George Benson’s crown slip he would be ready to seize the throne and bass and drums pairing Darren Taylor and Robert Fordjour received deserved plaudits. Pine praised Gateshead – The Sage, the people and the commitment to the music exemplified by the festival. This was a love-in and what, I ask, is wrong with that?
Russell

Clare Teal @ Theatre Royal York. March 23.

well the lady was on top form last night, playing to a packed and hugely enthusiastic audience. She just bounced in with all the verve we have learnt to expect from her, surely Clare is at the top of her profession just now. Her band were simply outstanding , Grant Windsor, keyboard/arranger, Ben Reynolds drums ; Simon Little bass. They also did some great harmonies throughout. So well rehearsed, they played in perfect harmony...and they all had such fun! For me I would have liked more standards, swingy ones too, as they were good at swing..her tribute to Anita O'Day was superb, Tea For Two at about 300 mph! 
Also I loved I Loves You Porgy and If I Were a Bell. Apart from those faves of mine, there was a fine selection of lesser known stuff which although unfamiliar to me were nevertheless never short of thrilling. Of course what Clare also does best is her chatty repartee in between numbers, always tongue in cheek and very laid back. She also mentioned her new Album Hey Ho, apparently a Gasbook tribute, but I heard no real evidence of it, which for me was a disappointment. Still you get your full money's worth with M/s Teal and we left on a high.
Liz.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival – Greater North Jazz Showcase Saturday March 24.

Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra & The Sharkestra
Voice of the North: John Warren (conductor), Graeme Wilson (tenor saxophone), Katie Hawcutt (tenor saxophone), Andy Bennett (alto saxophone), Rod Mason (alto saxophone & flute), Niall Armstrong (baritone saxophone), Chris Hibbard, Alex Leathard, Don Fairley, Rosie Nichols (trombones), Kim Macari, Shaun Eland, Jonathan Dunn, Greg Nicholas (trumpets), Mark Williams (guitar), Paul Edis (piano), Andy Champion (double bass) & Adrian Tilbrook (drums) (missing names from Kim Macari and Adrian Tilbrook.)
The Northern Rock Foundation Hall is the intimate performance space at the festival and as has become tradition this is the platform to hear the best north of England jazz talent. On this occasion the principals hailed from northern climes: conductor John Warren from Canada (English resident) and from north of the border, Graeme Wilson (English resident). The affable Scot is a composer of note and this was an opportunity to hear his music (much of it written and arranged for Voice of the North). 
The New Wallaw (a tune inspired by Wilson’s visit to a sadly neglected cinema in Blyth, Northumberland) opened the afternoon programme. Band warmed up, Chuck’s 400 (a nod to the great Chuck Berry), featured bass trombone ace Chris Hibbard and pocket-powerhouse trumpeter Kim Macari. Wilson’s travels have inspired a number of tunes and we departed for Kyoto and New York. Andy Bennett turned Japanese (I really think so) with some blistering work on alto and the band took a bruising on Streets of Furs. Travelling from Japan to America there was time to hear the lyrical side of Alex Leathard and Rosie Nichol (trombones) and The Sycamore featured an extended solo from the award-winning Jonathan Dunn (flugelhorn). 
The rhythm section is the foundation of the band and there is a copper-bottomed guarantee that all will be well in the hands of drummer (and fixer) Adrian Tilbrook, bassist Andy Champion, guitarist Mark Williams and Paul Edis (piano). 
Voice of the North is the band to hear and there will be precious few further opportunities to hear this stellar outfit. Shall we call it ‘funding difficulties’? Call it what you will - I call it cultural neglect, vandalism and down-right criminal – this fantastic long-term project is about to wither and die. Short of being a wealthy philanthropist do the decent thing and take the chance to hear the band in Saltburn (May 4th) and again (finally?) in the autumn back on Tyneside with a soon-to-be-revealed big band big bash blow-out.
Sharkestra
A work in progress project guarantees one thing – surprise. The Sharkestra is a constantly evolving band of highly talented emerging musicians mentored by the charismatic Chris Sharkey. Gateshead lad Sharkey is busy as a mercurial guitarist (notably trio VD) yet he has found the time to work with a pool of Sage-based musicians keen to learn and develop their skills. Weeks, months of work culminated in a performance in front of a standing-room only crowd. Think Sun Ra, think Frank Zappa, think fez, sombrero, smiles and no mean playing and you begin to get an idea what this band is about. Sharkey coaxes a performance – individually and collectively – from his charges, leaping into the sections, suggesting this, suggesting that, all the while the band blazing. The Sharkestra is an experience – try it sometime.
Attending a performance in another hall meant I missed out on Gogo Penguin and Roller Trio. I’ve heard the latter live – they’re good. The former? I have it on good authority that they were rather good too. If you were at the Greater North Jazz Showcase you are welcome to post a review…
Russell

Gateshead International Jazz Festival - On The Concourse Sat March 24.


One of the delights of Gateshead is the ongoing free events on The Concourse. The Strictly Smokin' Big Band got things moving today with a bang. I'd been listening to the Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra in the Northern Rock Foundation Hall and, despite the fact that theVOTNJO was riddled with deps - very able deps I hasten to add - I thought this band was indefatigable then what happens? I go out for a sherbet and I'm hit with the Strictly Smokin' Big Band in full flight. Pete Tanton on trumpet, Paul Gowland on tenor proved that this band is comparable with their more illustrious counterparts in the Foundation Hall. As well as the instrumentals I was quite taken by the vocal duo on I Won't Dance.
Rhythm Changes had some nice boppy arrangements including Moose The Mooche which showed off the soloists to good advantage.
Elaine Binney and the Jazz Rascals played well although the acoustics didn't do them any favours. (Photo courtesy of Kaveh.)
Lance.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Saturday March 24 - Marcus Roberts' Trio.

Marcus Roberts (pno); Rodney Jordan (bs); Jason Marsalis (dms).
(Photo courtesy of Mark Savage).
Roberts was in Cole Porter mood - perhaps he'd heard of Daryl Sherman's July gig here - Coles to Newcastle - and decided to get in first!
Night and Day paid little respect to the melody but endowed the harmony with depths I doubt even Porter himself knew existed!
I've Got You Under My Skin began with some delicate brushwork from Marsalis that led to Roberts once more re-structuring the tune in the most delightful way;
Anything Goes featured bassist Jordan as well as the leader; This was the first of the big hitters!
Just One of Those Things finally said goodbye to Mr Porter as the trio moved on to Monk and Mysterioso; Once again Jordan was featured;
Marching in the Modern Parade had Marsalis playing New Orleans drums as they are played today and it was quite amazing the way he gradually built up the tension from very basic to fantastically complex without losing the basic context of the street parade drummer - those Marsalis boys are surely mighty talented;.
Coltrane's 3 part Crescent Suite moved things up a notch - the cocktail party was over now it was time to do some Serious (and I use the word advisedly) playing;.
An uptempo blues catapulted Roberts from being a very good pianist up into the major league of Peterson, Tatum and co;. This was the defining moment it was as if he was saying "Now it's for real - this is me";.
A great gig by three musicians who performed as an equal triumvirate........
Lance

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Roberto Fonseca + Ayanna Witter-Johnson. Friday March 23.

Roberto Fonseca
I was sitting too far back to catch the band members names or the names of tunes, but did that matter? Nearly every seat on level 1 was taken and the band soon had the audience lapping it up, with someone dancing in the aisle nearby.
There was a marvellously diverse range of instruments. Besides Fonseca’s piano and keyboard, there was bass guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, tenor sax, flute, congas, African hand drums, a small African stringed instrument with a sound rather like a banjo, and, to top it all, a kora. For those not familiar with the kora, listen to one soon. It’s a half sphere, which was probably originally a hollowed-out vegetable, with a long stem bearing many stops for adjusting the strings, which gives a wonderfully melodious sound. And there were electronic effects as well, which at one point included a choir of angelic female voices.
And to suit the array of instruments there was an array of styles, including jazzy tunes, flowing classical piano, African sounds, Cuban sounds, and even one tune with sinuous Arabic elements. There was the trading of fours between kora and keyboard, a flowing lyrical piece from the piano, accompanied by gently brushed drums and cymbals, a tremendous drum solo. The audience gave a standing ovation at the end of the performance, so the band encored with a quieter African piece which faded out gently.
Ayanna Witter-Johnson
The concert opened with a most unusual and delightful performance by Ayanna, singing and playing the cello, which she played much of the time as if it was a double bass, but whilst sitting down. Most of the songs were her own, well written, thoughtful songs, sung in a lovely sweet voice. For instance, Grandma’s Hands; about the comfort she experienced from that relationship; a song in tribute to her mother; and a heartfelt version of the classic song Roxanne. The style of singing was jazzy with gospel elements and she occasionally did percussive beats on the body of the cello, to great effect.
This concert was a good start to the festival, I reckon.
Ann Alex.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival - Friday March 23.

Peter King (alt); Steve Melling (pno); Geoff Gascoigne (bs); Mark Fletcher (dms).
It had been a long time since many of us had heard  Peter King live which was possibly why the Foundation Hall was sold out.
Make no mistake about it, Peter is a world class player. Art Pepper is the name that invariably crosses my mind when I hear Peter. Nothing wrong with that I hear you say and it's true. But, although Peter has absorbed the legacy of Pepper and Parker, he is also very much his own man as tonight's session proved.
The first set was okay, "coasting" was how someone described it. but that simplifies matters. To me he wasn't coasting, he was feeling things out, checking the rhythm section, his chops, how he felt before starting to fly.
In the second set he did fly - and how!
The World of Trane saw him soar through the changes on many of Coltrane's familiar pieces. culminating in the inevitable Giant Steps and My Favourite Things.
Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life was announced as Flashback (I think!) and it was an absolutely beautiful unaccompanied solo. Wave, Feldman's Joshua were other delights.
However, the biggest cheer of the night went to the rhythm section who were right on the money with Steve Melling's piano outstanding - Gascoigne and Fletcher were right up there with him..
-----
A pint of Farne Island then over to Hall 2 for Pork Chop augmented, on this occasion, by American tenor player Pee Wee Ellis and "jazz/soul diva" Mary Pearce
Pork Chop's MySpace describes the band thus..."Its mission; to eliminate the introspective and self indulgent elements that some "jazz" music can often adhere to. We intend to bring the music back to the people." 
I'll drink to that!
It was fun.
----- 


The day had started on The Concourse with "The A to Zee of it" or, to be more precise Andy Champion and Zoe Gilby (Champion) doing Love Me or Leave Me. The voice was as clear as crystal, the bass round and fully toned. I've heard Zoe many times but, on this opening number, never quite as perfect  as she was tonight.
Cohen's Dance Me To The End of Love kept the momentum going and it was with a tinge of regret that I had to leave for the Press Reception up in "The Gods". Photo of Zoe and Andy courtesy of Mark Savage.
----- 
The evening concluded in the Central Bar with the late night Jam Session which, when I arrived had Andy Lee, on alto, doing some nice things to There Will Never Be Another You along with Alan Law (pno), John Pope (bs) and Mark Robertson (dms). 
Lindsay Hannon took to the stand for Nature Boy and the song she has truly made her own - Why Try to Change Me Now? Why indeed?.
A violinist from the Neil Cowley Trio gig had a blast on St. Thomas - was this Julian Farraretto? He swung.! Also a drummer sat in who was no mug - name anyone?
Chatted with John Cumming of promoters Serious before leaving for the local taxi office. Day One - ten out of ten.
Anyone for Aspirin?
Central Bar photos.
Lance.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lickety Split @ Hoochie Coochie

Eddie Bellis (tmb); Kevin Eland (tpt/flg); John Hudson (ten); Alan Marshall (alt); Bill Britton (keys); Mick Danby (bs); Roy Willis (gtr); Paul Wight (dms).
A cracking gig  by a band that seems to improve with each hearing. I couldn't fault anything. Mick Danby, depping for Alan Rudd, was superb  indeed how could you not be in such a rhythm section? This was the perfect gig to put you in the mood for this weekend at The Sage. There will be some cracking bands at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival but, take it from me, after Lickety Split, they have it all to do!
The horns blow straight down the middle jazz - call it swing, call it bebop, call it what you like - I call it great. No squeaks, no grunts, no distortion, just music.
A rhythm section as sound as any you'll come across in a long day's stomp with pianist Britton (Britain?) outstanding.
I was reminded of those old Kenny Baker Let's Settle For Music broadcasts not least because of trumpet player Eland's solos and lead. This guy is like the Candoli Brothers rolled into one - Pete's range and Conte's solos. Not only that he's the most photogenic trumpet man I've come across since Harry James!
Catch this band when you can.
Photos.
Lance.

Jazz Mass at St. Paul's by Steve Allen

Having read Russell's excellent report on the Ellington Sacred Concert by Stan Tracey, held yesterday in York Minster it reminded me of a poem by Steve Allen that I read in the May 28, 1959, Down Beat.
Jazz Mass At St. Paul's.
Lance.

Stan Tracey Orchestra @ York Minster. Wednesday March 21

Stan Tracey Orchestra: Clark Tracey (conductor), Stan Tracey (piano), Andy Cleyndert (double bass), Mike Smith (drums), Guy Barker, Mark Armstrong, Tom Walsh, Bruce Adams (trumpets), Mark Nightingale, Alistair White, Pete North (trombones), Jay Craig, Simon Allen, Alan Barnes, Sam Mayne, Mornington Lockett (reeds), Norma Winstone & Niall Hoskin (vocals) & Junior Laniyan (tap dancer) + Paul Miles-Kingston (Director of Music St. Peter’s School), St. Peter’s School Choir & St. Peter’s Choral Society
Duke Ellington’s sacred music has been performed on but a handful of occasions over the last twenty five years. It is a big undertaking – logistically and financially – and it requires a big space for the music to be heard at its best. The imposing grandeur of York Minster on a warm spring evening offered the perfect setting for the Stan Tracey Orchestra with choir and chorus to play to a congregation of some 1500 people. The Ellington Orchestra’s First Sacred Concert performance featured Cootie Williams and Cat Anderson in the trumpet section, Lawrence Brown (trombone) and a half-decent saxophone section of Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Russell Procope and Harry Carney. York Minster 2012 featured the very best musicians from the UK jazz world: A-list trumpeters Guy Barker and Bruce Adams, Mark Nightingale (trombone) and the reeds of Jay Craig, Simon Allen (a sensation at the Sage Gateshead in December with Stan Tracey), the ubiquitous Alan Barnes, Sam Mayne and Mornington Lockett guaranteed a memorable occasion. The rhythm section of Mike Smith (drums) and bassist Andy Cleyndert working alongside the man himself – Stan Tracey – ensured it swung all night long. Opera singer Niall Hoskin shared vocal duties with the magnificent Norma Winstone (Come Sunday a highlight among highlights). During communion Stan Tracey played a Meditation of infinite variations and the service concluded with Junior Laniyan tap dancing up the nave (a thousand camera flashes!). A triumph!
Russell

Preview - Roberto Fonseca @ GIJF

Cuban pianist, Roberto Fonseca, will be opening 2012’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival in Hall One.
Cuban music is currently thriving; musicians from all over the island are performing on the world’s most famous stages, and pianists like Roberto Fonseca are undoubtedly the stars of the multi-faceted Cuban musical scene.
His forthcoming album, YO, to be released in the spring of 2012 pays homage to Cuba and its African roots whilst bringing it up to date exploring new sounds and dimensions – blending traditional acoustic instruments with elements of electronica.
The fully-fledged Buena Vista Social Club prodigy leads a new generation of Cuban artists on a journey that weaves in and out of the island’s traditional music, picking up jazz, classical, and Afro-Cuban influences along the way to create an astonishingly original musical landscape.
Born in 1975 (Havana) into a musical family, Roberto started studying piano at the age of 8, though his initial passion was percussion. This interest from such an early age clearly influenced his trademark “percussive” piano-playing style, with a performance at Havana’s International Jazz Festival aged just 15.
“At school we used to regard American jazz as a point of reference; I felt that my music would be a fusion of both genres … I liked lots of jazz musicians, such as Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, but also old American funk and soul classics”.
Roberto was last at The Sage Gateshead as part of a co-produced Havana Cultura project tour with DJ Gilles Peterson with whom he continues to work with.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ashington Jazz Club - Press release

It’s a double bill at Ashington Jazz Club next month. Italian Duo Dos Guitars will share the stage with violinist Elaine Binney from Winlaton and her group The Jazz Rascals from Whitley Bay. We look forward to an eclectic mix of styles and numbers from these talented young musicians.
The concert on April 4 starts at 8:30 pm - upstairs at the Elephant in Newbiggin Road, Ashington.
Additional Information
Dos Guitars:-
Music lovers are in for a real treat this Easter Weekend as the world class Italian Guitar Duo “DOS” embark on their UK Tour. As part of their performances they will be playing in six venues across Northumberland. Originating from Fossano in Northern Italy, guitarists Luca Allievi and Allessandro Brizio play a mixture of gypsy, hot club, swing and jazz standards as well as their own arrangements of contemporary covers. In their homeland they are seen as the premier guitarists of their generation performing in concert halls and festivals all over Europe. This will be their first time in England and they are looking forward to performing in more intimate settings with their audience. They will be joined by local favourites Angie and Robert Turnbull, who have organised the tour after meeting Luca and Allessandro while performing in Saint Malo, France two years ago.
Elaine Binney:-
Elaine has been classically trained for ten years under the renowned violinist Erardo Evans and received impeccable theory training from Mr Phillip Walton and Mr Michael Dutton. During this time she toured Europe with local orchestras and performed for several prestigious events at such venues as the Purcell Rooms in London and the Sage Gateshead. During this time she performed on Metro Radio and received masterclasses from the world-famous soloist and Northern Sinfonia leader, Bradley Creswick. At 18 years old, she achieved her ABRSM diploma in performance. She has also appeared with the New Century Ragtime Orchestra.
Elaine is now back in Newcastle and working on her own projects including her violin-led jazz band 'Elaine Binney and the Jazz Rascals' 
John Taylor.

Stop Press Harley Going to Leeds.

The news has been released on Facebook that Harley "Sphere" Johnson is to read Music at the University of Leeds Come September.
Our best wishes go out to the talented young pianist and we wish him every success.
Lance.

Jazz Esquires @ Porthole

Miles Watson (tpt/vcl/dms); Tony Winder (ten/clt); Terry Dalton (tmb); Roy Gibson (pno); Robin Douthwaite (gtr); Stan Nicholson (bs); Laurie Brown (dms/clt). + Brian Lineham (hca/vcl); Teresa Armstrong (vcl);  George Laing (pno).
One of the best things about going to The Porthole is the Ferry Cross The Tyne. On a clear day like today it is truly inspirational and yet nostalgic as I think back to the days when the shipyards were alive, fishing boats were in abundance and river traffic was plentiful. Today, in fact I noted a container ship leaving the Tyne as well as one entering it (it may have been the same one  returning having forgotten something!)
In the pub it has to be said, the beer wasn't wonderful, my first pint having slept too long overnight in the pipes. Draught Double Maxim was an improvement although I wasn't surprised to see some regulars drinking cans of McEwans' Export.
Still, I was here for the music and not the beer (believe that if you like) and the band kicked off with a couple of Ellington's - It Don't Mean a Thing and I Got It Bad - Miles took the vocals in his inimitable style.
More good tunes in Just Friends, Ain't Misbehavin', Days of Wine and Roses (a work in progress) and On the Sunny Side of the Street.
Interval time and Laurie Brown moved from drums to clarinet whilst Miles moved from trumpet to drums for Stranger on the Shore. I have to say that this was the best version of Stranger on the Shore that I've ever heard played on clarinet by a drummer.
Brian Lineham took to the stage and played and sang a brilliant version of I Love You For Sentimental Reasons. Made my afternoon. He also had a blast on Blue Moon and Over the Rainbow.
Teresa sang Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
George Laing sat in but it was ferry time for me.
The audience were of a certain age - myself included - however, Monica, with whom I shared a table seemed to have survived the ravages of time better than most!
Lance.

Trainee Jazz Singers End of Term Gig, at The Jazz Café

Yes, this was our finest hour, when we each performed three songs with the Blue Jazz Quintet, to show our families and friends what we’d learned. We’d concentrated on 5 songs, Night and Day; Don’t Go To Strangers; For All We Know; At Long Last Love; and So Nice (Summer Samba). For some reason, hardly anyone did At Long Last Love, even though it had been the first song we’d tackled in class. I seem to remember only one person doing Summer Samba, but that may be because Latin rhythms can be very tricky to get right. It wouldn’t be fair to single out any individual performances, but our Leader, Lindsey Hannon, said it was the best performances she’d heard from us to date. The whole evening was really enjoyable, and once again the Band did their bit wonderfully.
What next? Who knows! Keep your eyes open for us around the scene. In the meantime you could do worse than listen to some of the greats doing the songs, so try YouTube to listen to Nina Simone’s unusual take on For All We Know, or the many versions of Night and Day.
Ann Alex

Forget New York - Old York's the place to be tonight!

Held in the famous Minster, this promises to be the most awesome event that York has ever hosted jazzwise.
240 voices plus a star studded Stan Tracey Orchestra performing Ellington's sacred works - and for free!
See Monday's post for details.
Lance.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blossom Dearie: They Say It's Spring

Today is the first day of spring so what better way to celebrate it than with the appropriately named Blossom Dearie?
Lance.

Free Events at GIJF

As well as the major events taking place in The Sage's Halls One and Two there are a lot of free gigs going on on The Concourse.
Indeed the Festival kicks off on The Concourse on Friday with a set by the Zoe Gilby/Andy Champion duo at 6:30pm.
At 7:30pm in The Brasserie - Paul Taylor plays solo piano.
On Saturday afternoon we have the following:
1:30pm - 2:00pm. Strictly Smokin' Big Band.
2:30pm - 3:00pm. Cross Course 12 piece (BMus)
3:30pm - 4:00pm. Bradley Johnston/James Birkett guitar duo.
4:30pm - 5:00pm. BMus Jazz Students - Matt Spence.
5:30pm - 6:00pm. Rhythm Changes.
6:30pm - 7:00pm. Elaine Binney and the Jazz Rascals. (AKA The Carnival of Crows.)
Sunday afternoon lines up thus:
1:30pm - 2:00pm. Rocket Science.
2:30pm - 3:00pm. The Lemon Tops.
3:30pm - 4:00pm. The Wright Idea.
4:30pm - 5:00pm. The Vieux Carré Jazzmen.
All in all an impressive and varied choice for those on a budget.
Lance.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Bill Harper Trio @ The Cherry Tree Restaurant, Jesmond.

Bill Harper (pno); Neil Harland (bs); Adam Sinclair (dms).
Bill Harper, once the linchpin of Jazz North East's house trio and now domiciled in France, made a welcome trip home reminding us, in the process, of his jazz chops.
This was ably demonstrated at Blaydon last Thursday and again tonight at the Cherry Tree.
In deference to our "Honorary Frenchman" I opted to start with the French Bistro Salad.
I'm not sure what was in this culinary delight 'cept it bore no resemblance to any English salad - Bistro or not - that I've ever tasted! I detected a suggestion of pear and there may have been some celeriac related components. I wasn't sure.
Meanwhile, up on stage Bill Harper was playing Autumn Leaves. The literal French translation, he informed us was Dead Leaves - Bingo! I'd found the missing ingredients.
They sounded good 'neath Bill's deft fingers and tasted good on the end of a fork.
Next up was Makin' Whoopee with a great descending passage in the left hand whilst playing the melody with the right hand.
I too was makin' lots of whoopee with my Soy Braised Duck Leg and Coconut Rice - man the flesh just fell away from the bone. I felt sad - she must have been a lovely duck.
We'll Be Together Again, Anthropology, Night and Day and Ain't Misbehavin' were right on the money although I was puzzled at Ain't Misbehavin' for a birthday request.
I misbehaved disgustingly as I wolfed down my Warm Chocolate Nemesis - I defy anyone to just nibble at this confectionery masterpiece.
The music, needless to say, was everything I expected. If anything, Bill had upped his game since Blaydon and that was a pretty high bar to raise. Neil and Adam slotted in as if they'd been playing together with Bill all of their lives when in fact tonight was the first time Bill had played with Adam.
Another good one with the Lewis Watson Quartet to follow next Monday.
Lance.

Duke Ellington's Sacred Works at York Minster

Paul Miles-Kingston (Director of Music at St Peter’s School) and the School’s Choirs and Choral Society are putting on the Duke Ellington Sacred Works in the Minster on Wednesday March 21 at 7pm, with the Stan Tracey Orchestra. This is a very unusual project indeed and represents a unique opportunity to hear these sacred pieces; we believe it has only been performed 5 times in the last 25 years in this country, and never by a school choir.

It is a wonderful opportunity to hear some incredible jazz musicians playing (many of whom also play in the BBC Jazz Orchestra) and to be present at a really spiritual event that will be highly memorable. Paul sang in a similar service at Durham Cathedral as a young choral scholar; 20 years later it remains an outstanding and lingering memory for him.

The works are performed in the framework of a full Eucharist and will be free and open to the public as a Minster service. It is anticipated that the Minster will have a full congregation (of around 1500 people).

There will be about 240 in the combined choirs of St Peter’s School, St Olave’s School and our Choral Society.

The Stan Tracey Orchestra is confirmed to include: Stan Tracey; Clark Tracey; Guy Barker; Mark Armstrong; Tom Walsh; Nathan Bray; Mark Nightingale; Alistair White; Pete North; Jay Craig; Simon Allen; Alan Barnes; Sammy Mayne; Mornington Lockett; Mike Smith; Andrew Cleyndert; Norma Winstone; Niall Hoskin; Junior Laniyan.

Busnoys @ The Bridge Hotel. Sunday 18 March

Martin Pyne (vibes & electronics), Jeff Spencer (bass) & Trevor Davies (drums)

Jazz North East’s latest promotion at the Bridge Hotel featured a chamber jazz concert by Busnoys. The trio, lead by vibes player Martin Pyne, crafted two sets of considered pastoral sketches. Waltzing on the Devil’s Ground and Song for Grace Melbury (a tune inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Wessex) set the tone. Mild-mannered Pyne utilised a vast collection of mallets - two mallets, then four - to create a water-colour wash of sound, drummer Trevor Davies etched chiaroscuro to the compositions and five string bassist Jeff Spencer was the epitome of taste. Pyne announced ‘an ordinary little jazz tune’- it was anything but ordinary; a blues - Over and Over - swung like crazy, drum ‘n’ bass patterns intervened and featured solos from Pyne and Spencer with a round of fours to showcase the talents of Davies. A Don Cherry-inspired piece - Oom?...Pah!-– invited a receptive audience to imagine the trumpeter playing Stravinsky! Military-medium drum rolls then, slight of hand, jazz punk humour and late-period Miles bass lines. The trio’s new CD By Tapering Torchlight was snapped-up at the door and the title track opened the second set. For Ed paid homage to Pyne’s favourite musician - Ed Blackwell – and the percussive feel couldn’t have been more apposite. Stillness at Appomatox, an elegy to the American civil war, distilled the essence of Busnoys; sensitive, quiet, still.

Russell

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nick Pride and the Pimptones @ Hoochie Coochie.

Karen Harding (vcl); Nick Pride (gtr/vcl); Tom Quilliam (ten); Keith Nicholson (tpt); Ian Paterson (bs); Oz Cassidy (dms).
The Men in the Grey Flannel Suits don't stand still and tonight they gave another rumbustious performance as typified by their recent CD - A Midnight Feast of Jazz. These guys rock and they roll but they also have a whole lot of jazz in their soul which makes them tailor-made for a venue like Hoochie.
The horns make frequent sorties on to the dance floor. both guys blow turpentinian solos that must make work for ceiling decorators after each gig.
Leader Nick plays cool he plays with fire. Grant Green to Freddy Greene via Jimi Hendrix. Behind it all Oz drives and Ian steers - bebop to hip hop and all stations in between.
With The Pimps there's always a lady involved and tonight it was Karen Harding strutting her stuff - another great "Jazz Girl".
And not a music stand in sight!
Lance.

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About this blog - contact details.

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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