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Bebop Spoken There

Allison Neale: “It’s difficult if you play mainstream in the UK, it isn’t appreciated enough. The current scene seems to focus on musician-composers.” - (Jazz Journal April 2013).

Liam Noble: “I know some people think playing standards is old-fashioned but I love it.” – (Jazz Journal January 2016).

Archives.

Today Tuesday February 21

Jam Session - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. Free.
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.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ian Shaw, Sarah Gillespie, Sarah Jane Morris, Claire Martin & David Tughan @ 606 Club, Chelsea in aid of Side by Side Refugees - 4th Feb

David Tughan (vocal and electronics), Ian Shaw (vocal and piano), Claire Martin (vocal), Sarah Gillespie (vocal and guitar), Sarah Jane Morris (vocal).
(Review by JC).
On the one hand, it's the sheer enormity of the numbers that defies belief. A country like Lebanon with a population of 5 million people having over a million extra refugees within its borders; the hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving on small Greek islands after perilous boat journeys; Germany taking in a million refugees. Then, on the other hand, there is the apparent inability (to put it as kindly as possible) of the UK and France to deal with the tiny number of refugees living in appalling conditions in temporary camps in Calais and Dunkirk. In order not to offend the political neutrality of the BSH blog let me not comment on why this situation exists but just say that it is very hard not to be affected by the reports and pictures coming from the French ports.
'Where is this review going?' one might reasonably ask. Is there now a jazz club in the 'Jungle' at Calais? Not as far as I know (although Ian Shaw might have some plans) but there is a legendary one in the 606 Club in Chelsea and it was here that jazz and the refugee crisis played together. As I understand it, the concert was put together by Ian Shaw, singer/songwriter Sarah Gillespie and of course, the 606 Club in support of an organisation called Side by Side Refugees who are providing humanitarian aid to the camps.
There is always a risk that the 'worthiness' of events like this means that the music can take a back seat but not here. 606 is a top jazz club and it was jammed, maybe not totally with regular jazzers, but top class music was on the agenda from the get-go. And it was clear in all the performances that the artists (and the club) were committed to supporting the reason for the event.
Steve Rubie, who has been running the club since 1976, was MC and first introduced David Tughan who did impressive solo multi-layered vocals and electronic loops on a couple of numbers - at one point snatches of Moondance appeared out of the mix.  Then it was the turn of Ian Shaw and Claire Martin, who I was looking forward to hearing as I'd not heard them live before but I liked Shaw's album of Joni Mitchell's songs. Both were in very good voice and Shaw was also on piano. A little unusually he was dressed in 'street' gear but the reason for this became clear later.
The selection of songs and songwriters was great - Phoebe Snow, Stevie Wonder, Ute Lemper's Crimes of the Heart, Dionne Warwick's I'll Never Fall in Love Again and Say a Little Prayer for You. Shaw and Martin have been working together for many years and it showed. A great set.
In between the acts volunteers from the NGO briefly outlined the work of the organisation to provide food and other essentials to the residents of the camps and read some moving poems written about the cause.
The next act was Sarah Gillespie, the other main organiser of the event, an artist I didn't know but who was a compelling singer/songwriter clearly familiar to many in the audience. She was described in the concert brochure as a 'bracing, eclectic mix of Beat poetry with jazz, folk and Middle Eastern elements' and having heard her excellent live performance, I'm not going to argue with that.
606 is the ideal jazz club size, low ceilings and lots of small tables around the stage but understandably most of the best seats were taken up by members and regulars. This meant that we had a table near the emergency door, which was being used by the (many) artists to enter and exit the stage allowing the equal entry and exit of cold air on a regular basis. However at the interval, without a moment's hesitation, Steve Rubie found us another table in the centre of the club that offered both perfect atmospheric conditions and a great view of the stage. Thanks, Steve!
And boy, were we glad to be there when the next artist came on.
I had heard the name of Sarah Jane Morris but knew nothing about her. However, from the first song we were blown away. Singing a capella, her powerful soulful voice demanded and got full attention. The line '700 bodies on a dead man's chest' reflected the emotional intensity of the song. Next, she was joined by Tony Remy on guitar and Henry Thomas on acoustic bass guitar, who provided a rippling solo on the song Into My Arms. John Eacott then stepped in on trumpet on Feel My Love from her latest album Bloody Rain, which is dedicated to the people and music of Africa. Another track from this album, Comfort They Have None, was a fiercely passionate song about the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Ian Shaw and Sarah Gillespie then came back on stage to join Morris and sing a stirring version of I Shall Be Released.  This was great, emotional stuff!
To finish off it was Ian Shaw again, who had clearly played a key role in making the event happen, and this time, he was solo. As he talked about the NGO and its work it quickly became clear that for him this focus of the gig was much more than a musician using his skills to help out with a good cause. He described how he had been helping out in Calais for many months, travelling over once a week with supplies for the refugees and getting involved in the camps. He told stories of the people he had met and the desperate nature of their situation. Apparently he had just arrived back from Calais that afternoon and said how the previous evening he had been with a group of refugees when they were accosted by the French police at gunpoint who demanded to see identification. Shaw said he had waved his passport and said to them 'What are you going to do? Shoot me?' A very scary situation no doubt, but probably the only known case of a piano-player asking to be shot (as Shaw was once a stand-up comedian he might allow me that one).
He then performed a passionate version of his song My Brother from his new album The Theory of Joy about brotherly love in the widest sense and there was no doubt who he was thinking of.
Great credit must go to all those who put together the event and hopefully a decent amount of money was collected to support Side by Side's work.
I've no doubt that there must be similar organisations in the North East and I have been wondering whether it might be possible to put together an event like this up here....
JC

2 comments :

  1. This review is the best best posting on BSH in a long time. As for 'political neutrality' there is no such thing when it comes to the ongoing crisis in France and beyond. Steve Rubie, the 606, the musicians...I salute you! The work of Ian Shaw is tremendous. Xenophobes are on our streets. Fascists were on the march in Newcastle last weekend. They were challenged by those of us who despise their miserable utterances. A gig on Tyneside to raise political consciousness let alone funds seems like a grand idea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks JC for an excellent review and the encouraging news that jazz musicians are once again standing up for what's right. Jazz.Coop would be very willing to help with a Tyneside event.

    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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