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Bebop Spoken There

Howlin' Wolf: “He [Charlie Patton] was a nice guy, but he just loved the bottle--like all the rest of the musicians. He was a great drinker.” – (DownBeat December 16, 1967).

Frank Zappa: “Those kids [US students] wouldn't know music if it came up and bit 'em on the ass.” – (DownBeat October 3, 1969).

Today Tuesday April 24


Classic Swing - The Ship, Front St., Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 1pm. Free.


Maine Street Jazzmen - Royal British Legion Club, West Jesmond Ave., Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 3EX. 8:30pm. £5.

Gerry Richardson Trio - The Fox, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB. Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (collection). Richardson; Garry Linsley (alto sax) & Adam Sinclair (drums).

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Great North Big Band Jazz Festival (Day 2) @ North Shore. March 1

(Review by Russell)
The second day of the festival was devoted to senior bands in the Open Section.
The Tyne Valley Big Band set the ball rolling in front of the bleary eyed at 11:00 am. Led by the ebullient Dave Hignett, the community big band seemingly recruits new members on a daily basis and here at North Shore not far short of two bands’ worth of musicians crowded onto the stage! Hignett’s enthusiasm for the music is a key element in the development of the band and a spirited performance deservedly won warm applause. Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra, winners of the inaugural event eleven years ago, made their annual sortie from the Toon into Mackem territory armed with a choice pad comprising numbers by Gordon Goodwin, Van Heusen/Burke and Oliver Nelson. Jordan Alfonso sported a curved soprano, Shona Crossan, wearing a polka dot top, sang Polka Dots and Moonbeams and the orchestra delivered an assured set.
North east rivals Durham University Big Band, themselves previous winners of the National Glass Centre-commissioned trophy, presented the contemporary and the classic big band chart. Radiohead’s 15 Step (arr. Ben Cottrell, MD of the new wave Beats and Pieces Big Band) examined the dynamics of the modern large ensemble. Gershwin’s It Ain’t Necessarily So (arr. Stan Sulzmann) featured vocalist Laura Paul. Paul possesses a real jazz voice and the first tear in the eye of day two was recorded at 12:30 pm.
The first of four bands from Leeds – the acclaimed Leeds College of Music Big Band – deployed a surprise tactic or two, dressed, as they were, in penguin suits and having smuggled a double bass player onboard the band bus. Their programme incorporated three classic tunes and one original composition. In the Mood, Someone to Watch Over Me (inc Tom Hill’s flugel work) and On the Sunny Side of the Street featuring four vocalists (Eleanor Begley, Rebecca Dunn, Josie Hawkins and Edmund Jeffery), the latter drawing vociferous applause. Guitarist Oscar Moysey submitted his own composition for examination – If I Was a Cat – and in doing so apologized for the poor grammar! Later in the day adjudicators Mick Donnelly and Paul Jones were to commend Moysey’s efforts, giving encouragement to this welcome development of the emerging composer in the big band genre.
Leeds University Union Big Band followed LCoMBB up the A1 (with a double bassist in tow!) to present a classic big band set including In a Mellow Tone and What a Difference a Day Made. The vocal-double bass intro (Loucin Moskofian and Max Khan) on the latter number proved most effective in a strong set. The City of Leeds jazz community had by now taken up residence on the banks of the Wear with the arrival of the Revolutionary Jazz Orchestra. Now with a name like that you’re on a hiding to nothing. The band hit the ground running with Sister Sadie. Stand out soloists James Boyes (alto), Chris Burge (trombone) and pianist Aleks Podraza lifted the band for the challenge that lay ahead – John La Barbera’s A Piece of the Road Suite. The four part work featured outstanding contributions from Jack Chandler (alto, Pipe Dreams), Nick Baya (tenor, Countin’ Them Long White Lines) and Dom Pusey (baritone), Sam Quintana (electric bass) and Laurence Marshall (drums)  excelled on the closing piece Back of the Bus. Revolutionary? Perhaps not, but very good.
The fourth and final band from Leeds hit heavy traffic on the journey north so their scheduled performance slot was put back and the Durham Alumni Big Band stepped into the breach. Two Wayne Shorter tunes – Elegant People and Lady Day – both arranged by local hero Matt Roberts and Julian Siegel’s M Badgers formed the basis of a superb set. Trumpeters Jonny Dunn and Judd Down laid down gargantuan solos, tenor saxophonist Alex Baker summoned hidden reserves to produce a magnificent, fully formed solo on Lady Day and the rhythm section – Robbie Chapman-Thong (guitar), Amy Baker (electric bass) and Stephen Fletcher (drums) – worked tirelessly. The Leeds stragglers – Big Band Theory – had made it across the Wearmouth Bridge (the structure festooned in red and white banners imploring: Howay the Lads Wembley 2014) and onto Charles Street. Within minutes of arrival they were ready to go. John Clayton’s Max heard star man Benji Powling (tenor) and All the Things You Are and Straighten Up and Fly Right made for an entertaining set.
2013 winners Huddersfield University Big Band built their title defence on Nestico, Metheny and Gillespie/Fuller/Gonzales. Guitar hero Pat Metheny’s compositional skills appeared twice in the programme, the second of the numbers – Dream of the Return – unsurprisingly featured guitarist Adam Ward, the trumpet section shone as did the whole ensemble.
The tenth and final band facing examination were an unknown quantity. The Managers Big Band from Bolton strolled onto stage in lounge suits looking every bit the part of managers! First time visitors to Sunderland, the programme suggested a conventional mainstream set – Red Bank Boogie, Beauty and the Beast, All the Things You Are, Flying Home and Concerto for Trumpet. In truth it was a straight ahead big band set. Two things marked out the band as something special; the ensemble work was flawless (professional if not ‘managerial’) and their star performer Jay Shepherd (trumpet) won a standing ovation (a very rare occurrence in the event’s eleven year history) for his astonishing recreation of the legendary Harry James’ showstopper. The musicianship throughout the day had been of the highest standard. The Bolton band’s performance had some shrewd judges rewriting their scorecards. The winners had been picked out earlier in the day, hadn’t they? Some stood firm, the winning band would be such and such from wherever. Our adjudicators done, the results were (in reverse order, as it were, including three discretionary adjudicators’ awards):

Adjudicators’ Award: Jay Shepherd (trumpet) The Managers Big Band
Adjudicators’ Award: Laura Paul (vocals) Durham University Big Band
Adjudicators’ Award: Stephen Fletcher (drums) Durham Alumni Big Band

Most Entertaining Programme: Revolutionary Jazz Orchestra
Best Section: Rhythm Section, Revolutionary Jazz Orchestra
Best Soloist: Alex Baker, Durham Alumni Big Band
Best Band: Durham University Big Band

Shirley Atkinson, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Sunderland University spoke encouragingly about the event’s future success. An evening winners’ concert followed.

Day 3 (Sunday) will feature schools and youth bands. 11:00 am start.


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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.)
Contact: I look forward to hearing from you.