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Bebop Spoken There

Vadim Neselovskyi, Professor of Jazz Piano, Berklee College of Music: “Every pianist has to deal with a very complex left-hand part at some point. This is the essential pianistic experience – to split your brain into two halves and execute two very different tasks at the same time.” – (Down Beat September 2017).

Roscoe Mitchell: “To me, improvisation is trying to improve your skills so you can make these on-point compositional decisions. That takes practice.” – (Down Beat September 2017)

Archives

Today Tuesday September 26

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Black Bull, 98 Front St., East Boldon NE36 0SG. 1pm. Free. 0191 5365127. New residency 2 mins from East Boldon metro.
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Evening
Maine Street Jazzmen - Royal British Legion, West Jesmond Ave., Newcastle NE2 3EX. 8:30pm. £5.
Charles Gordon (solo piano) - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle. 10pm - midnight. Free.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interview with Gwyneth Herbert by Lance

L. Your new album, “The Sea Cabinet”, was launched last month at Wilton’s Music Hall but the actual tour proper commences tonight – that’s June 12 – at Sage Gateshead.
GH: That’s right.   This is our first large-scale UK tour for a while, and many of the venues have a particular resonance with me and the project.  When I first sang at Wilton’s three years ago, I fell immediately in love with it. It's the oldest surviving Grand Music Hall in the world and it feels as if the very walls whisper with the ghosts of cabaret past; seems to me the most perfect location in which to launch our story-web of sea songs. I also love The Sage – it’s a great space to play, and I've developed my relationship with the venue by working and performing there in a variety of different guises over the last ten years or so.
L Listening to tracks from the album and reading the press release it seems to me to be a giant step away from anything you've done previously, would you agree?  I'm familiar with Bittersweet and Blue and of course I enjoyed your last visit to Sage Gateshead – The Peggy Lee Project – but this is a very different project indeed.
GH: Every day I seem to be taking giant steps away from the one that went before, only to leap sideways and then jump back again the next. In one week I might be recording some 18th Century murder ballads for Radio 4, composing a film score for toy orchestra, singing “Why Don’t You Do Right” with a big band, researching maps for a musical about the inventor of the A – Z, producing a neo-cabaret satirical comedy record, rewriting folk legends with kids, having my head cast in plaster for an art exhibition about obsession and desire… I don’t see my “career” as a linear progression.  It’s a kind of frenetic, ever-expanding hopscotch. On the spot.
L:  The diversity of material should appeal as much to the folk world as well as to the jazz world? The songs are so descriptive of the people and places portrayed.
GH: Isn't it funny how we are still obsessed with genre? Almost as if it’s an ethnicity, or an old school tie.  My songs are inspired – as you so rightly point out – by people and places. I’m a story magpie, and as I wrote most of the album whilst staying on the Suffolk coast, many of the sonic and lyrical ideas are thieved from my time there – the chattering of fisherman, the cry of the gulls, a chance encounter with a beachcomber… This emphasis on narrative in song is certainly present in the folk tradition.  And having jazz musicians in my band – access to that wonderful improvisatory dialogue between players - certainly informs the sound.  In “The Sea Cabinet” there are elements of shanty and bubblegum pop and barbershop music hall… but really it’s the magically diverse language of the sea and the coast that we’re exploring.  And I hope anyone can be transported to Mrs Wittering’s faded seaside hotel or be seduced by Lorelei’s moans… no matter what “tie” they may be wearing.
L: Will you be using a choir at Sage Gateshead as you did at Wilton’s Music Hall?
GH: We have a very special Pirate Chorus from Burnside College in Wallsend!  I came up yesterday to have a session with the kids yesterday and teach them the harmonies... I'm really excited they’re joining us onstage tonight.
L: Do you see your future as composing and singing your own material or will you still dip into the Songbook?
GH: The short answer is yes.  In terms of album output, since Bittersweet and Blue was released 8 years ago, there have been 3 Herbert records with only one cover between them - David Bowie’s “Rock and Roll Suicide” – and in fact it’s only very recently that I’ve allowed myself to fall in love with jazz again.  Not that I ever fell out of love with it, just that I was busy investigating and making and playing and falling in love with other things. I loved singing the beautiful songs of Peggy Lee, and later this year am continuing my association with the wonderful “Café Society” project, exploring the songs and stories of the legendary Greenwich Village Club of the same name.   I am sure that jazz and the Songbook will continue to be a part of what I do.
L:. You attended Durham University. Do you still feel an affinity with the area?
GH: Every time the Cathedral looms large and beautiful into view, I get all misty-eyed out of the train window.  I made my strongest friendships and spent some of my most wonderful years here – playing with Brancepeth trio as “Gwynnie and the Pacemakers”, cutting my teeth with guitarist Will Rutter at Durham cafes and Newcastle bars and nearby forest parties…  I love the musicality of the accents, I love being called flower and pet and darlin’ in the space of one sentence.  I love the river and the green spaces and the cobbles and most of all the people. 
L: Finally, you were part of the Take 5 development scheme.  Has this been of great value to you?
GH: It certainly has.  As part of the scheme, we had access to inspiring people from all areas of the industry who encouraged us as independent artists to think creatively about the business aspects of our career, rather than seeing the elements as mutually exclusive.  I found the whole thing experience empowering.  And I also met a bunch of incredible musicians, got an insight into their very different approaches to artistic process, and made some wicked music together… look out for various collaborations hitting the stages in the next couple of years!
L: Thank you Gwyneth - I'm very much looking forward to tonight's concert.
Tonight's performance by Gwyneth Herbert of The Sea Cabinet is at 8pm in Hall Two, Sage Gateshead. £16.50. Tel 0191 4434661.

2 comments :

  1. Ian Talbot Paterson (on F/b)Wednesday, June 12, 2013 12:31:00 pm

    Good stuff. We were at Durham Uni together. She was fantastic back then and has gone from strength to strength since!

    ReplyDelete
  2. smart lady! a good interview Lance.. well done!
    Liz

    ReplyDelete

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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.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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