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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

Thursday September 21

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Rd., nr. Newcastle NE27 0DA. 1:oopm. Free.
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Tees Valley Jazzmen - White Horse Hotel, Burtree Lane, Harrowgate Hill, Darlington DL1 3AD. 1:30pm. Free. 01325 463262.

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Evening.
Maine Street Jazzmen - Potter's Wheel, Sunniside NE16 5EE. 8:30pm. Free.
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Courtney Pine: Black Notes from the Deep - Sage Gateshead NE8 2JR. 7:30pm. £25.60. 0191 4434661.
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Katie Mac (w. 6 piece band) - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. Free.
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Emma Fisk & James Birkett - St. Cuthbert's Church, Shadforth DH6 1LF. 7:30pm.
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Pocket Jazz Orchestra: Jazz & Tapas - No. 60, Arc, Dovecote St., Stockton TS18 1LL. 7pm. £10.
Tees Hot Club w. Alan Marshall (saxes); Kevin Eland (trumpet); Ted Pearce (keys) - Dormans, Oxford Rd., Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. 9pm. Free.
New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton TS18 4AW. 8:30pm.01642 678129.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

James Birkett and Bradley Johnston Jazz Guitar Duo – Hexham, Saturday, March 26

(Review by Hugh C/Photos courtesy of Rachel).
'Twas a rain-lashed Easter Eve when 30 or so of the faithful gathered in the western margins of the Beboposphere at The Little Angel Cafe, Hexham.  Diners had finished their pizza and gelati, glasses or mugs (according to taste) were charged.  At the appointed hour (8pm) an expectant hush descended on those assembled and in the glow of the single spotlight the jazz guitar maestri James Birkett and Bradley Johnston took to the floor (there is no stage  - it is a cafe).
We were to be a treated to a whirlwind tour of the oeuvre from the 1920s to the contemporary.  We started with Blues for PJ and were next in Brazil with Antonio Carlos Jobim's Wave then back in 1920s USA with Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang's duo, Stringing the Blues – the part of Venuti's violin ably taken by Johnston on guitar.  We were then treated to a beautiful ballad by Pat Metheny (a favourite of the duo as you might expect) -  Farmer's Trust.  Gypsy jazz then came to the fore with Biréli Lagrène's Fisco Place, the two guitarists chasing each other at rapid speed, but ending together bang on the note.  Brazilian composer Luiz Bonfa's Una Prece followed then a guitar version of Sonny Rollins' Doxy.  The first set was finished by the quickfire round – Django Reinhardt's Suite Number Four.  It was at this point that James Birkett suggested the guys needed “a little lie down”.
During the interval I got into conversation with James Birkett (music educator as well as jazz guitarist) and learnt two things:
          The art of improvisation is not confined to Early Music/Baroque and Jazz as is commonly thought, but extended well into the Classical period – Beethoven, in particular, was an arch improvisor who could produce a whole piece from a short musical segment thrown at him by an audience member.

          It is urban myth that the grand London music colleges were the first in this country to run courses in jazz studies – in fact, these courses started in the North of England - Newcastle, Leeds and Salford in particular, at a time when the practice rooms of the London colleges still had notices on the walls to the effect of THIS PIANO MUST NOT BE USED FOR THE PLAYING OF JAZZ!

Refreshed in both mind and body then, the second half commenced with an energetic rendition of another Sonny Rollins number, Oleo.  The duo then cooled off with a three- time piece – John Lewis' Skating in Central ParkPerfect, by Eddie Lang followed leading into a bravura rendition of Coltrane's Giant Stepsas James Birkett put it “we sometimes like to set ourselves a challenge – there's a key change about every eight seconds”.  The bluesy Blue Room (Eddie Lang/Lonnie Johnson) then Reinhardt's Large followed ending up at the penultimate number, Burt Bacharach's AlfieIt was probably the sensuous rendition of this balladic song that prompted one audience member to speak to the meeting, a distinct “Yeah!” could be heard at the end. 
And here we were, at the final number.  Throughout the evening, the set list had been fluid, with Birkett and Johnston choosing the music played as they went along.  A brief introduction from Birkett to each piece provided background and context.  The title was announced:  Chick Corea's Spain - the famous introduction from Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez stunningly presented by Johnston.  This was a tour de force and served as an excellent finale. 
Overall this was an excellent evening in the sort of venue most suited to this kind of music, an intimate space with cabaret style seating and easily available refreshment.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, was educated – and the pizza was good too!  What's not to like?
The James Birkett/Bradley Johnston Jazz Guitar Duo can be experienced at Ushaw College, Durham on April 29 at 7.30 pm and at the Lit and Phil, Newcastle on June 24 at 1 pm.
Hugh C.

1 comment :

  1. I'm surprised they didn't play any seasonal tunes like Easter the Sun or Eggsactly Like You

    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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