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Bebop Spoken There

John Tynan: "Go ahead, call me reactionary. I happen to object to the musical nonsense being peddled in the name of jazz by John Coltrane and his acolyte Eric Dolphy." - (Downbeat November 22, 1961).

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McCoy Tyner: "If anyone want to know how the three of us - Elvin, Jimmy and me - felt about John [Coltrane], listen to the music and you can hear the love and respect we had for each other. The music can really speak more than any of us." - (Melody Maker, August 19, 1967).
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Today Tuesday April 25

Evening
Playtime Collective w. Martin Kershaw (alto); Graeme Stephen (guitar); Mario Caribe (bass); Tom Bancroft (drums). - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. £10/£8 (conc.). JNE/Schmazz.
Maine Street Jazzmen - Royal British Legion Club, West Jesmond Ave. Newcastle NE2 3EX. £5. 8:30pm.
Charles Gordon (solo piano) - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle. 10pm - midnight. Free.
Lickety Split - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham. 9:00pm. Free (bucket collection).
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Tom Harrison Quartet @ The Bridge Hotel Newcastle - Easter Sunday

Tom Harrison (alt); Jamil Sheriff (pno); Simon Read (bs); David Lyttle (dms).
(Review by Lance/photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
It's Derby Day and Newcastle have now lost five in a row - let's drown our sorrows seems to be the prevalent mood as the 27 bus cautiously makes it's way towards the Bridge Hotel expertly avoiding the bodies bestrewn across Grainger St.
Upstairs at the venue it's quieter as the punters have yet to arrive and it takes them awhile to do so. However, we eventually get a quorum and The Tom Harrison Quartet lifts off.
This is the proverbial breath of fresh air. To hear tunes you actually know rather than originals that will probably never be heard again gives the band a head start with me. I know there are others who will disagree even though the actual improvisations were as complex as any of the "I wrote this tune in the bath last night" variations so beloved by many of today's emerging jazz musicians.
Harrison successfully incorporates facets of the great modern alto players such as Bird, Cannonball, Ornette and Dolphy welding them into a distinctive style of his own. Sheriff, no stranger to Tyneside is very much the thinking man's pianist producing rich and at times unusual harmonic variations,
Read, a composer and leader in his own right (write?), slots in perfectly soloing effectively without flamboyance.
Drummer Lyttle, by contrast, is flamboyance personified - sartorially speaking, he could be Sky Masterson from Guys and Dolls! This panache is magnified after he mounts the drum throne. The most original stickman I've seen/heard yet and I've seen them all!
Hand drumming, sticks, brushes, sometimes a combination of all three, plus various items of percussion such as shakers, triangle, tambourine, drinking glass and God knows what else!
And all without missing a beat!
April in Paris; How Deep is the Ocean (Jamil feature); Body and Soul (melodic bass solo); Blue Daniel - This Cannonball Adderley tune has special memories for me bringing to mind Sunday night's at the Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay, back in the 1960's when Sid Warren used to play it quite often. I think both Cannonball and Sid would have liked this version!
I'll Be Seeing You features Lyttle who plays an extended intro/solo to this most unlikely of numbers.
Break time.
Down in the bar a heated (an understatement!) debate is taking place - not football or even jazz but politics. The language is colourful, the air distinctly blue, so I retire before the furniture starts flying.
Skylark; Stella by Starlight and Wayne Shorter's Mahjong comprise the second set and the downstairs shenanigans are consigned to history .
If this isn't my Gig of the Month it will only be because of the heavyweights slugging it out at next weekend's GIJF!
Lance.
PS: Ken Drew explains this third photo...
After the session, just as the band were starting to pack away their instruments, Jamil sat at the drums and had a quick practice session. Not to be outdone, Dave picked up the double bass, Simon sat at the keys, and Tom swapped with Jamil for a mini Jam.  What a great way to end a session !!!

3 comments :

  1. A great gig with very good musicians. The drummer was fantastic but Sky Masterson, surely not? He and the band are much hipper than that. He's a dead ringer for William Burroughs - what does he wear for lunch, I wonder?

    JC

    ReplyDelete
  2. At the end of this gig I said to Tom Harrison "If I'd seen your set list in advance, I might have gone home". I'm glad I didn't - this was a superb example of how much interesting and original music can still be wrung from familiar standards.
    But unlike Lance, who appears to be in love with the tunes per se regardless of how clichéd the interpretation, I revere them as launch pads for creative endeavour, which is exactly what we got from Tom and his fellow musicians. So my objection to most bands who play only standards is not the familiarity of the tunes themselves, but the all too familiar way in which they are handled.
    As to Lance's dismissive attitude to original compositions, I find that not only tediously conservative, but actually quite offensive towards most of the adventurous young jazz musicians whom I encounter and who think long and hard about the music they write. The tunes they devise may not be the sort you can hum on the way home, but as vehicles for improvisation they often serve their purpose superbly - and isn't improvisation, "the sound of surprise", the very thing that makes jazz such an endlessly exciting music?
    I've been listening to and loving jazz for well over 50 years, but the very things that attracted me to it in the first place - the unexpected curlicue of creativity, the "Wow! I didn't expect that!" moment - are what I still hope to find at every gig I attend. I certainly found it with the Tom Harrison Quartet, but I know that I'll also find it when the Corey Mwamba Trio comes to the Bridge in a couple of weeks time, and there won't be a standard in sight.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes Paul, I am in love with the Great American Song Book - though not, as you claim, per se. Indeed there were probably many more mediocre songs written and thankfully forgotten than those that have stood the test of time. However, a good tune with a well crafted lyric has long been the staple diet of jazz artists who, like the Tom Harrison Quartet are, as you say, a "superb example of how much interesting and original music can still be wrung from familiar standards".
    My dismissive attitude to original compositions certainly isn't intended to be offensive to young composers. Just as some standards have been done to death, conversely most originals don't get done at all other than by the composer and I find it sad that so much time and effort goes into writing something that may well be an outstanding work yet is never heard again other than by the same performer.. I'd like to hear the same composition played in a different context say by a different band. Perhaps if musicians supported each other's gigs this might happen!

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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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