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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)

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Today Tuesday September 26

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Black Bull, 98 Front St., East Boldon NE36 0SG. 1pm. Free. 0191 5365127. 2nd of 6 consecutive gigs. 2 mins from East Boldon metro.
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Evening
Maine Street Jazzmen - Royal British Legion, West Jesmond Ave., Newcastle NE2 3EX. 8:30pm. £5.
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, May 29, 2016

Harry Potter and a Quintet On Fire - The Sue Ferris Quintet @ Ushaw College, Friday, May 27.











Sue Ferris, tenor sax & flute, Graham Hardy, trumpet & flugelhorn, Paul Edis, piano, Andy Champion, bass and Rob Walker, drums.
(Review/photos by Jerry)
Walking around inside Ushaw College you feel as if you have inadvertently wandered into a Harry Potter movie: the whole complex is impressively Neo-Gothic with much of the interior work designed by Pugin (of Palace of Westminster fame); a huge wall adjoins the main buildings constructed, apparently, for the sole purpose of playing “Cat”, an arcane ball-game like a prototype Quidditch and even the lengthy stroll to the toilets (everything here is on a grand scale) is via an “ambulacrum” with mullioned windows looking out over a grassed quadrangle.
There was certainly magic in the air tonight woven by Sue Ferris and her band of four top musical sorcerers (no apprentices here!) No apprentices, but there was a “wand” as the trusty sax was swapped for a silver flute at the first set’s end for a beautiful tune entitled Witchcraft. Apparently the only thing Sue Ferris couldn’t bewitch was the microphone which fell and slowly snaked floorwards earlier during Watch the Birdie – a Wayne Shorter tune with music cleverly mimicking the words of the title. Like a snake-charmer, she played the most persuasive of solos but gravity put the recalcitrant mic’ beyond her powers. Paul Edis (promoter/pianist/technician) fettled it at half-time. No rest for the wicked!
Earlier we had heard Just Squeeze Me with some fine interplay between sax and trumpet at the end and Well You Needn’t – which I noted down as “magic Monk”.
“Magic” was just my reaction on hearing a familiar favourite but both words seem apposite in the context of Harry Potter in a former seminary!
My notes on the Monk tune also included: “complex piano solo…staccato trumpet blasts…bass solo then crashing drum solo”, with the afterthought, “but subtly varied”. I returned to these notes in an attempt to articulate WHY I so enjoyed this quintet and the reason is partly encapsulated here in the combination of power and subtlety. For a quintet it is a BIG sound: the rhythm section pulls no punches; Sue Ferris, when she puffs her cheeks and runs down into the “basement notes” (my terminology – sorry!) can rattle the floorboards and Graham Hardy can hold a long note longer than I can nurse a pint of real ale!
Yet each can construct solos of such subtlety and variation that you wait, spellbound, to see where they are going next. Take the bluesy piano solo on Some Do, for example, or Andy Champion’s bowed bass on Silver’s Opus de Funk. Or the moody sax solo on Song for My Father with its cascading high notes, repeated phrases and downward runs. Or Graham Hardy’s mellow flugelhorn on his own arrangement of One Hand, One Heart. Or ANY of them on the last two numbers – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and Take the A Train which brought rapturous applause.
A second reason, which endeared the quintet to this big and mixed-age audience, (more magic, there, I think) is the accessibility of the music. The set-list choices (I think I have mentioned them all apart from The Double-up) are mostly familiar tunes by familiar musicians; the ensemble playing is infectiously rhythmical and strong and the solos, however complex, are never so precious or technical as to bewilder the average listener like me. Thanks to all for a “magical” evening.
Jerry.
P.S. This outstanding performance was preceded by a brief “appetiser” from The Early Bird Band. See below for comments and pic..

3 comments :

  1. Great review, Jerry, for a great concert. Shame, though about the few people who insisted on having extended conversations or rustling popcorn packets during the performance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear that - nothing near us like that (front/right). Sadly it seems to be a feature at all manner of public performances these days!

      Delete
  2. What s soulful player too. She joins that elite band including Mezz Mezrow, Eddie Hinton, Bill Clinton and FDT. I haven't included Zawinul, Corea and McLauglin because, as Miles said, they don't see colour; unlike him.

    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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