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Bebop Spoken There

Michael Feinstein: “Fred Astaire is my favorite singer. To me, he was the perfect interpreter of American popular song.” – (Jazz Times December 2014).

Bud Shank: “Once I saw California – that was it, I stayed.” – (Jazz Journal May 1991)

Archives.

Today Wednesday February 22

Afternoon.
Vieux Carre Jazzmen - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.
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Evening.
Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. £1. 8pm.
Lindsay Hannon - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. No cover charge.
Chris Sharkey Trio - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8ppm. £4 (Students free).
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Cancelled this week only. Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:30pm. £3.00. Cancelled.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ilkley Jazz Festival. August 19-21

(Review by Steve Tulip.)
Please accept my apologies for anybody missed or names misspelt or mistook. Any errors are entirely mine.
Organiser Mark Beirne Smith told me there were two hundred people listening to live Jazz in Ilkley on Friday night. This was when the festival began for us and had a distinctly French storytelling theme.
We spent the early part of the evening in French restaurant Monkmans listening to one Emma Fisk introducing a selection of Joe Venuti/ Eddie Lang music accompanied, as ever, by the mythical gypsy guitar of James Birkett.
Sparks never fail to fly when you put these two giants of north east music together and tonight was no exception. I’m reliably told, by Dr Birkett, that the set was essentially the same one Lance reviewed at the Newcastle Jazz Café a few weeks back, with Someone to Watch Over Me the highpoint for me, Emma wringing every last ounce of emotion from her violin.
The audience were attentive and appreciative but comfortably chattering during the music, which suited the setting perfectly. 

There was considerable overlap between gigs and when we arrived at the Winter Gardens for Tina May singing Edith Piaf, accompanied by legendary pianist, Nikki Iles, we burst into a room in silence and a hundred of the great and the good of Ilkley staring at us while singer and pianist carried on like the true professionals they are.
After a hasty retreat, the tech guy came out and asked me what I wanted. I told him we had tickets and he informed me it only had about half an hour to go. All the more reason to get us in quickly.
Piaf isn’t really my thing but it did remind me I haven’t yet seen the biopic. Tina May has a fantastic voice and tells a story well, both when introducing and singing, and she and Nikki were lovely when we met them afterwards. I think the great and the good forgave us.
We arrived at Christchurch early the next morning to find it is, in fact, a church. As we followed the music, somebody on their way out said they would get better and they quickly did. A guitar, a young lad with a violin, last seen talking to Ms Fisk the night before, seven saxes, a trombone and two young girls singing, this was the Jazz Workshop led by Ben Lowman on sax and Adrian Knowles on bass.
First gig of the day was guitarist Gary Potter for an audience of forty plus. He’s an amiable scouser, bemoaning the absence of a bar – here here!  “It’s a church”, someone shouted.
He played a mix of Django, classics, show-tunes, all the while asking for requests. Anyone recognise that one? Yes! Anyone know what it is? Nope. We got, would you believe? The Lords’ Prayer! Then The Third Man, When You Wish Upon a Star and straight into what I think was Some Day my Prince Will Come, some ‘blues’ from Chet Atkins, Remember Me, Blue Moon and, would you believe? Daisy, Daisy, Give me Your Answer Do, and Stardust to finish but best along the way was I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, taken at breakneck speed, his fingers flying around the fretboard in the most breathtaking display of virtuosity of the set.
He’s a terrific player, his banter was relaxed and witty but he stuck to acoustic throughout and I felt he should have switched guitars midway to change up the sound for a bit of variety. However, the rows of guitarists left thoroughly satisfied.
Which was a shame as it halved the audience for the next band, though those of us who stayed seemed even more determined to show our appreciation.
Bass intro, drums and piano, Bang! and the hairs were up on the back of my neck before Graeme Wilson, who gives his name to this all-star quartet, played a note. A long solo from Paul Edis, all his pianist influences on show, from Monk to Peterson and - of course with this band - McCoy Tyner. Graeme, Scotland’s (in my opinion) very own heir to Trane, came back in and took it down to him and Adam Sinclair, drumming up a storm, when Bang!, and Lord Paul was back in with the mighty Andy Champion on bass,
If you’ve seen them you’ll know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, you must. I think this was the moment Mrs T realised she actually likes Jazz but don’t challenge her or she’ll probably deny it.
It was the next section which helped me persuade her to come to Ilkley. Jazz just wants to have Fun is the brainchild and forthcoming album by Ilkley via Halifax native Beverley Beirne.  I’m no fan of chart music but Mrs T, currently five years my junior is, like Beverley, a loud and proud eighties pop chick. Nevertheless, as the decade I missed – let’s go with ‘it was the booze what done it’ – Jazz versions of eighties hits held some bizarre appeal for me, maybe because, unlike other decades I can think of, it’s unpretentiousness.is honest and refreshing.
Mrs T gave me the artists and sometimes the titles as we went along: Adam Ant, Kim Carnes, Right Said Fred, Bananarama, Foreigner, Billy Idol, M (Pop Muzik – now Jazz Music), a speeded up Too Shy by Limahl; very different but still recognisable with a great ending, and a boogie woogie version of Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cindy Lauper. The ones I liked the most were the ones where I probably like the originals most: Specials Ghost Town and ABC When Smoky Sings but Mrs T told me in the pub after, because these are all songs she loves, she preferred the ones which stuck closest to the originals.
Next year, the album will be out (spring, for your diaries) and she should do them somewhere with a bar and a dancefloor and later in the evening.
She has a huge range which can get low down and dirty, her delivery can be comedic where the material requires it but more serious and soulful also. She’s charismatic, fun and personable. She also has a cracking band of young musicians, led by pianist Sam Watson, with saxophonist Ben Harland taking most of the solos, Ben Brown keeping it steady on kit and, one to especially look out for, bassist Flo Moore.     
The just over thirty punters held for the next set and, from the off it was clear the two horns of the QCBA Quartet are tight. Soloing from Quentin Collins on trumpet and flugel and Brandon Allen on tenor and soprano was exceptional, but together they were mind-boggling. Whatever astral plain they’re on, they’re on it together.
Three pieces in and Brandon switched to soprano and, maybe because we hear more tenor and alto, and even baritone these days, I was blown away, taken back to the days of Jazz Funk when just about all saxophonists played tenor and soprano.
Trying to think who Quentin put me in mind of and once I got to Freddie Hubbard, I kept coming back to him, in sound and technique and yes, he is that good.
Moreover, Jim Watson, sitting in for Ross Stanley on Hammond(ish) and Enzo Zirilli on drums were by no means overshadowed in this powerful hard bop(ish) quartet.
Quentin is suave and debonair while Brandon is just plain tall, dark and handsome. Some posturing and stage-craft, clearly pre-choreographed but – hey – we were there to be entertained, and if you’re going to take yourselves seriously you have to be good, and these are seriously good.
They finished the second set with a slice of bebop called Bob Shop. With a sax and trumpet pairing that special, you gotta.
From church to the pub, just like Sunday mornings in the olden days (before the eighties), and Beverley’s excellent rhythm section took the already busy Black Hat in their stride. Beverley joined them after the first track and proved, if anyone was in doubt, she’s a serious singer too. Next up they were joined by fourteen-year-old fiddler Morgan Marshall from Lytham St Annes who demonstrated remarkable confidence and maturity on a very difficult instrument, to the delight of Jazzers and muggles alike.
But a late night, early morning and long day took its toll and we headed back to the hotel and bed.
 A hearty breakfast and back to the boozer for the tail end of a masterclass by members of the QCBA Quartet. Using Hubbard’s Little Sunflower, first Jill on clarinet and then Morgan, back with his violin, joined the keyboardist to show improvisation techniques they’d learned.
Closing the weekend, the Matt Holborn Quartet, another Gypsy outfit bookending the weekend after Emma and James on Friday, and it wasn’t lost on Matt that, with Gary Potters’ solo guitar, Gypsy Jazz had been a recurring theme of the festival.
I missed a lot of their set at Burton Agnis and was determined to give them proper respect this time out. Two sets including Djangology, Minor Blues, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and Are You In The Mood? The simultaneous soloing of Matt’s phenomenal fiddle and one of the Bens on Avalon was the high point for me
With Simon Reed singing along like that other great bass player Charles Mingus, and the Bens Dansig and Mallen doing Reinhardt proud on guitars, the Hot Club de Bar Tat, complete with Sunday diners, gave the festival a rousing finale, generous-spirited Matt, on his twenty-eighth birthday, inviting Morgan Marshall, half his age, to join him for renditions of Summertime and All of Me.   
Good enough to bear comparison with the various North East Gypsy Swing Bands? Absolutely!
All in all a great little festival which isn’t reliant on the weather, is easy to get to, easy to find your way around and easy to park, all of which makes for a stress-free weekend. Oh, and some fantastic music too.
A change of venue would be good, or at least some way to facilitate the drinking of alcohol, but it just meant I had to binge drink during breaks and risk missing the start of sets; something I’m far less OCD about than I used to be.
It deserves to be far better supported and I’m confident it will grow year upon year, not least because of the commitment, enthusiasm and dedication of the organiser Mark Beirne- Smith who seems to do the whole thing almost single handed, and I’m grateful to him for the way he looked after us throughout the weekend.
Steve Tulip.

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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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