Total Pageviews

Bebop Spoken There

Sonny Rollins: "I work very hard. I wear out suits playing." - (Downbeat May 29, 1969.)

-----

Bob Brookmeyer: "The group's philosophy? We're saving to buy new uniforms - the ties wore out." - (Crescendo March 1965).

-----

Archives.

Today Saturday March 25

Afternoon

?????

Evening

James Harrison (solo piano) - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. No cover charge.

-----

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Alice Grace Quartet @ The Cherry Tree, May 18

Alice Grace (vocals), Pete Gilligan (piano), Paul Grainger (bass) and Russell Morgan (drums)
(Review/photos by JC)
The frenetic and mass produced sameness of the restaurants and bars on Osborne Road in Jesmond has been a mainstay of Newcastle nightlife for a bit too long in my view.  The noisy and youthful hordes that gather there at weekends bring to mind Dorothy Parker's remark while observing a debutante's ball in Yale that 'If everyone in this crowd was laid end to end...I wouldn't be at all surprised'. 
However, for more than a few years now there has been one oasis of great food and music at the city end of the street, the Cherry Tree restaurant, which is just far enough away from the mayhem further up the road to allow one to forget its existence. 

As well as providing excellent cuisine, the owner Peter has a strong commitment to presenting quality jazz musicians on a weekly basis and all the best local artists have appeared there as well as distinguished visitors from further afield. Having noticed recently that there were some weeks with no jazz I was pleased to hear from Peter that there are still going to be regular sessions but perhaps on a slightly less frequent basis (every three or four weeks).
Anyway, the gap in the schedule had made us even more keen to go and, having heard Alice Grace before, we knew this would be a good one.
The band were straight at it from the off with Grace scatting assuredly on Devil May Care and Pete Gilligan producing one of his many fine piano solos. This was followed by Blue Skies which gave Paul Grainger a chance to show what he could do. The restaurant quickly filled up with appreciative diners and a nice rapport developed between the musicians and the audience. St. Louis Blues was taken at an appropriately slow pace but with an undercurrent of raw blues energy particularly exemplified by Gilligan's piano. It was also an example of a number of the songs featured in the set where Grace and the band gave the song space and time and let it breathe which really drew the listeners into the music (more on this later). Another was Lush Life, the Billy Strayhorn song, which has a long intro section that Grace made the most of and she demonstrated her vocal technique over the complex arrangement. Apparently Strayhorn wrote the song when he was in his teens - so how come he knew Geordie slang?
Other songs were Do I Love You, No More Blues and another Strayhorn number Take the A Train which always brings me back to listening to Willis Conover's Jazz Hour on the Voice of America radio station in the kitchen at home in the 60s as it was the programme's theme tune. There was great scatting from Grace on this number and a very nice drum and bass interplay.
The second half continued the high standard with swinging versions of Bye Bye Blackbird and I Remember You (Grace forewarned us that on this one Russell Morgan would be getting his shaker out). Then another of those songs that the band do so well, You Don't Know What Love Is, with Alice Grace stretching out the melody and the lyrics so that the audience was hanging on every word. One listener was so entranced by the performance that she started to applaud when Grace paused after 'You don't know...' in the last line and stopped abruptly when she realised the song was not finished. However, the singer responded with real style saying that the applause was a compliment and showed that she was really into the music - very nicely done.
Then Just In Time, Nature Boy featuring some fine interplay between voice and drums, and Beautiful Love.  But another highlight for me was Parker's Billie's Bounce with Grace's vocalese and Gilligan's piano going at breakneck speed with great support from Grainger and Morgan. By contrast, a request for Blame It on My Youth saw the band equally at home with this beautiful ballad and a storming version of I Can't Give You Anything But Love ended the night on a high.
As others have said, this quartet is really the business and combined with the excellent food and great service why go anywhere else on Osborne Road?
JC

No comments :

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

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.

Subscribe!