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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.

Monday February 20

Afternoon.
Jazz in the Afternoon - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.
Evening.
Holy Moly & The Crackers + Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra - The Cluny, Lime St., Newcastle. 7pm. £10.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Vicissitudes of Love. The Ruth Lambert Trio @ St. Cuthbert’s, Crook, May 13

Ruth Lambert, vocals, Giles Strong, guitar and Mick Shoulder, bass.
(Review/photos by Jerry)
A conversation overheard summed it up: “A fab evening.” “Yeah, it was great!”
St. Cuthbert’s offered its customary warm welcome (augmented by a glowing log burner) and dished up pizza at half-time: the trio offered their customary first-class musicianship and dished up a sumptuous mix of tunes from the songbooks (Great American and Great North-Eastern!)
Two numbers defy categorisation: The Snake (jazz/funk/Northern Soul?) featured a scat finish with subtle guitar work from Giles and Lullaby (in the newly invented spooky-acoustic-folk genre?) was hauntingly melodic. All the others, standards or originals, were reflections (mostly negative) on love. Another common denominator was that they all featured delightful lyrics which repaid careful listening e.g. “When the summer dies with the first caress of autumn’s lips”. Carmichael? Porter? Gershwin? Shoulder, actually!
Two further originals clearly had back-stories: How Could I? included the lines “My heart has no feeling / Where life has no meaning…” and Love That Never Dies was introduced as being “about the love of my life who turned out not to be”! Both featured great guitar work – electric on the former, with a “clean” solo (I can think of no other adjective for notes so precisely and clearly articulated) then acoustic, fitting well with the bitter-sweet tone of the latter. Love That Never Dies also had a great bass riff leading to a resonating bass finish. (Have I been reading too many real ale tasting notes?)
The perennial anxiety of love underpins You and the Night and the Music - you may live for the moment but: “After the night and the music, will I have you?” Another Lambert/Shoulder original, So Tell Me, poses the question: “Is it safe or should I run away?” The extended metaphor that is Detour Ahead is unequivocal in its advice – turn round and stay on the “smooth road” if you want to avoid the car-crash that is love!
So, how to respond to the problems? Giles Strong’s Everything Was Beautiful suggests that, if you accentuate the positive (or move to The Sunny Side of the Street – introduced by Ruth as “the most positive song ever written”) then even failed love can become a treasured memory: “When I’m old I’ll think of you/And the time when everything was beautiful”. Do you simply get older and wiser as in That Old Feeling: “There’ll be no new romance……it’s foolish to start”? Or, like T.P. Kirk do you take the opposite view and simply go for it? “Don’t even stop and sigh/It doesn’t help if you cry” Those who hesitate or dwell on things risk losing out entirely and are fools – Devil May Care is the only approach to life and love.
Frank Loesser’s Never Will I Marry is brilliantly paradoxical – seemingly pessimistic (“born to wander solitary /born to wander till I’m dead”) so why the cheery, upbeat tempo and singalong melody? Close examination of the words (only about 70 in the whole song and most of them are repeated) suggests that once you embrace solitude, you’ve cracked it: “No burdens to bear/ No conscience, no care/No memories to mourn”! Alternatively, like the speaker in The Man I Love, you could remain determinedly optimistic: “Still I’m sure to meet him, one day”.
Of course, there are GASbook songs celebrating the joy of love: “amorous/glamourous/awful nice/paradise”, Gershwin’s ‘S Wonderful is breathlessly joyful – even the musicians got a bit head-over-heels here! Arlen’s I’ve Got the World on a String is a perfect antidote to much of the foregoing suggesting that being in love gives you a measure of control and Porter’s You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to (impressive vocal gymnastics from Ruth here and an energetic bass solo as well) suggests that a domestic idyll is achievable.
Cleverest song of the evening? – No Moon at All with complex music (Redd Evans?) and lyrics (Dave Mann) which poke fun at the conventions by having a couple fall in love in the total absence of stars and no moon at all. Most moving song of the evening?- Love for Sale, a groundbreaking (and in its day banned!) song inviting the audience to empathise with a street girl expert in “old love, new love/any love but true love”. Ruth’s vocals wrung out every drop of emotion in this poignant number. Brilliant!
Jerry.

2 comments :

  1. Great review Jerry. Devil May Care, what a tune! I can hear Ruth now!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Certainly northern soul insomuch as any genre can be labelled as an easily defined category. Northern soul is particularly slippery with the sub-Motown tag the most commonplace but strictly speaking it doesn't necessarily need to be either northern or soul but is a record played by a northern soul DJ and/or at a northern soul night which could be in London, Japan, Australia or almost anywhere nowadays.
    In his book Northern Soul top 500, Wigan Casino no. 3 Kev Roberts ranked the Snake as fourth most important ever, but by the emergence of Jazz funk it was considered a joke, alongside Dobie Gray Out on the Floor ( rated second ) and Frank Wilson Do I love You? ( rated first ), although I personally think by the final reckoning all three will be considered, not the greatest discoveries ever, but nearer the top of the pile than the bottom.
    But now we're really getting away from Jazz - or maybe not in a world post any meaningful structures.

    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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