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Bebop Spoken There

Jim Hall: "Won't play loud, can't play fast" - (From one of the great guitarist's business cards brought to our attention by Roly Veitch).

Joel Harrison: “It’s incredibly hard to play bebop on guitar, harder than on saxophone.” – (Jazz Times August 2015)

Today Tuesday June 27

Evening
CANCELLED! Atlas - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:15pm. £10/£8 (conc.). JNE 'Women Make Music'.
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Charles Gordon (solo piano) - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle. 10pm - midnight. Free.
Maine Street Jazzmen - British Legion Club, West Jesmond Ave., Newcastle NE2 3EX. 8:30pm. £5.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Grew Quartet + Grew Watts Duo + Grew Quintet @ Lit & Phil - March 17.

(Review/photos courtesy of Ken Drew.)
This highly anticipated double bill was quickly re-arranged into a 3-set Jazz North East treat at the Lit & Phil.
First set – the quartet – all in together from the outset.  Stephen on the piano with very extensive and dynamic use of the keyboard, along with the left hand occasionally modulating the mid-strings as the right hand continued its workout along the keyboard.   Virtually all played throughout – no ‘solo’ spots as such creating a continuously complex and energetic sound, enthralling the audience. The clarinet at times competing with the piano – each urging the other on, with bass and drums constantly underpinning the mix.  Then a quiet passage – a bass solo – plucking both above and below the left-hand finger positions. Very enthusiastic playing!   Overall, very energetic interplay, and just like the local Wylam beer, very accessible and very tasty!!   A pity it was limited to just half an hour!!  What a superb opening set.
Duo set.   Trevor blasting in from the start with nice harmonics echoing from the openly-sustained piano.   Stephen on the piano producing such pyrotechnics from one pair of hands!!  Both hands a frenzy up and down the keys, with plucked individual strings along the way, yet in total unison with Trevor throughout.  I think Trevor was ‘leading’ but Stephen was surely only microseconds behind.  Again, such dynamics were demonstrated both across the keys and inside the grand too, with many fleeting  excursions inside to pluck individual strings with the left hand – each done mid-flight as there was much work to be done on the keys.  Constantly responding to the challenge from Trevor.  What a Masterclass!!  Two pieces expertly delivered, and each ‘closed’ neatly and succinctly by mutual aural agreement.
Third set, the Quintet.  Straight in from the off again, and all playing constantly, for the most part, each adding their own expressions yet following the mood and direction of the piece as it developed.  The ‘wind’ (Trevor and Matt) occasionally converging perfectly on glissandos.  Both were giving a good blowout, and were so well matched.  Stephen’s right hand picking harp-like at the upper strings of the grand, bass and drums energetically taking their own solo spots.   All players were in unison from start to finish, and concluded with a clean, nicely developed ending.
The audience, which was of a decent size, nicely filled the Lit & Phil’s performance room, aiding the acoustics which were very clear and were amply rewarded with a superb three sets by a quartet, a duo and a quintet, each with musicians of breath-taking ability exhibiting some high-velocity workouts.  We were later told that these 5 players had never played together before. Wow!! What an introduction!!  Following the most enthusiastic applause, a concluding remark noted it was ‘an example of Empathetic improvisation at its very finest‘.  Let’s hope we see a follow-up in the not too distant future.  
Ken.
Grew Quartet: Stephen Grew (piano); Seth Bennett (bass); Phil Marks (drums); Matt Robinson (clarinets).
Stephen Grew - Trevor Watts Duo: Stephen Grew (piano); Trevor Watts (alto & soprano sax)
Grew Quintet: Stephen Grew (piano); Seth Bennett (bass); Phil Marks (drums); Matt Robinson (clarinets); Trevor Watts (alto & soprano).

3 comments :

  1. Thanks Ken - great review of a great gig. I'm generally very sceptical about 'Gig of the Year' accolades (there are so many to choose from), but this will undoubtedly take some beating. And the players all commented on what a great, receptive audience it was . . . but where were the local musicians? I spotted one saxophonist, one pianist and two drummers in attendance. It's not about learning, its about enjoying - although, of course, if one or two ideas rub off, well, isn't that the way that jazz has always developed?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I mentioned this awhile back, either on here or on facebook.
    One person replied, "when I'm fortunate enough to get a night off the last thing I want to do is go to a gig!"
    Seems as though it's a national thing, a friend of mine in London remarked on a similar scenario down there. Someone else said that maybe a musician who hasn't got a gig doesn't want to be seen by someone who has! I've also noted that players who do go to gigs are often the worst offenders when it comes chatting away during the music!
    Possibly because so many have graduated from Jazz Education courses they feel superior to the guy who paid his dues in clubs/pubs at night after an 8 hour day in an office/shop/factory?
    At one time gigs used to offer concessions to MU members.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I commented when this came up last time. Speaking personally, as anyone else who works and has children when I'm not at work I have dishes to wash, children to feed, shopping to do, tunes to practice...I do occasionally get to a gig but life is busy!
    Certainly hope I'm not guilty of any of the crimes you mention Lance!

    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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