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Bebop Spoken There

Miles Kington: "If the intake of alcohol fails to improve a jazz player's performance, why do jazz listeners think it improves their appreciation?" - (Jazz Express October 1982).

Barbara Jay: "My first gig was at the Astoria, Charing Cross Rd. It seemed like a den of iniquity to me. All the Soho girls were there and the gigolos with their old women paying them to dance..." - (Jazz UK May 2008.)

Archives.

Today Sunday February 26.

Afternoon.
Mark Williams (solo guitar) - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 12:30pm. Free.
More Jam - Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 3pm. Free.
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Blues @ The Bay - Tanner Smith's 17-19 South Parade, Whitley Bay NE26 2RE, 0191 2525941. 4pm. Free. Blues jam w. Scott Wall & Charlie Philp.
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Musicians Unlimited - Park Hotel, Park Rd., Hartlepool TS26 9HU. 01249 233126.1pm. Free.
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Evening
Maine St. Jazzmen - Seaton Sluice Social Club, Collywell Bay Rd., Seaton Sluice NE26 4QZ. 8pm. £4.
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Shaun Henderson Band - Quakerhouse, Mechanics Yard, Darlington. 6pm. £5.
Jazz Jam - Empty Shop, 35c Framwellgate Bridge, Durham DH1 4SY. 7:30pm. Free.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Scarborough Jazz Festival 2016 - Sunday September 25:

(Review by Steve T).
Young people may not believe this but as a child I spent four consecutive summer holidays camping in Scarborough; twice. Years later my oldest brother told me our mother invented Scarborough for their second generation of children but all of us, including my older brother and sister make Scarborough a regular destination.
The last time my parents went they stayed at the Grand Hotel where we’d only ever been for the Good old Days, which is now probably the so-called swinging sixties.
I consider it the finest holiday resort in the north and it’s always something of a homecoming.
Work and family commitments meant I could only make the Sunday which I had already decided was my preferred day of the three.
Vula Viel
Bex Burch (Gyl),  Dan Nicholls (keyboards), George Crowley (sax), Dave De Rose, Simon Roth (drums).
Vula Viel fuse the music of Guo in North Ghana with Western technology. They’re the creation of Bex Burch who plays Gyl, another first for Scarborough claimed compere Alan Barnes, a percussion instrument which seems to make more of a vibraphone type sound as she moves up the scale.
There’s a clear emphasis on rhythm with melody secondary and the set began with both drummers and the leader but really kicked in when joined by an explosive bass sound which left me looking for a bass player before I realised it was coming from the keyboardist and a check of the programme confirmed a bass synth.
As the set progressed the synthesizers became more present with very little traditional keyboard playing at one point reminding me of Hawkwind and space rock, the sax player also adding effects on occasion.
It made for a great coalition of contrasts between what we understand as World Music and Western Music, tradition and futuristic and traditional and technology, with a firm emphasis on the former in each case.
Her respect for the source material is evident and she has clearly immersed herself in the music and culture, introducing the pieces based on her experiences serving a three-year apprenticeship as a Gyl maker, following which she was given the name Vula Viel meaning ‘Good is Good.’
She spent most of the set bouncing around, maintaining full control of her instrument, and by the end she was like a prize-fighter, in ethnic top, a mass of hair flapping around like a reggae singer brandishing dreadlocks.
Good is good indeed and this is exactly the sort of group that make Scarborough special and exactly the sort of group we can expect to see in the North East soon.

Adam Glassers’ South Africa and Beyond
Adam Glasser (harmonica, piano), Rob Luft (guitar), Flo Moore (bass), Tim Giles (drums).
Piano, guitar, bass and drums, Alan Barnes had not stuck to the schedule after Vula Viel announcing ARQ as the next band, allegedly to prove he’s not infallible. I know Alison Rayner will not be offended when I say the bass player looked rather younger than I expected and I searched the stage for a sax player before the pianist produced a harmonica and the game was up.
At this moment in time I’m probably inviting a thunderbolt by saying I can’t get excited by a harmonica in Jazz. Blues, absolutely, Jazz, no. However, he has an undeniably great sound and is a fine pianist too and, if I am going to listen to Jazz harmonica, it’s going to be him every time. It was the lovely Flo Moore on bass - that’s Flo Moore – with Tim Giles on drums making a solid partnership at the back.
The guitarist had a very subtle but very clear, clean sound and Dr Birkett informed me he’s NYJO alumni and I later found out he’s the guitarist we didn’t get with Corrie Dick in Newcastle (though we did get Laura Jurd who they didn’t get in Birmingham – na na na na na).
With a smaller band, the South African theme seemed less evident than on the album Mzansi but we got a couple by Hugh Masekela and one by Bheki Mseleku.
Inevitably, a large part of the set was handed over to recently deceased Jazz harmonica main-man Toots Thielemans.
But as the set went on I became ever more impressed by this young guitarist, his solos beginning at full pelt and then increasing in tension and delivery but maintaining the flow of ideas throughout.
Robert Fripp, guitarist and sole constant presence in prog rock initiators King Crimson, made a distinction between John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, claiming to play guitar synth you have to have the precision of the former. Luft is an exceptionally fluid player but every note was played with minute accuracy and equal clarity, never missing a note or delivering a half note.
It’s great credit to the leader that he allowed him this freedom and also came back with some equally compelling solos of his own. He was a generous leader and a charismatic announcer as the hall continued its increased capacity throughout the afternoon.

ARQ
Alison Rayner (bass), Diane McLoughlin (sax), Deirdre Cartwright (guitar), Steve Lodder (piano), Buster Birch {drums).
By the entrance of the Alison Rayner Quintet the hall was heading towards capacity but with only odd seats occupied upstairs.
They’re a modern day standard quintet, or so I keep saying, the leader and frontline all ladies, which is also modern and welcome. I also noticed that all the ladies were stood while both men were sat down. I imagined a future where men are only ever laid down and beyond, when we are no longer needed!.
The band all gave solid performances throughout, some interesting piano playing with a distinct classical inflection (I think), the leader in the centre of everything, a safe pair of hands holding everything together, allowing Diane on tenor and soprano and Deirdre on Stratocaster (I think) switching to Strat (I think) for one only, and a man – Steve on piano - to take the bulk of the solos, Alison taking only one herself.
The set comprised entirely original material from their excellent current album and a forthcoming album, not released until November but available to buy at the festival, including one composition each from Diane and Steve who, incidentally also had the best two shirts of the day.

Liane Carroll (piano/vocal)
This was the one I was least tempted by but, in terms of entertainment value, proved unmissable, the lovely Mrs Irene Birkett, choosing it as her gig of the weekend.
Introduced by Alan Barnes, you half expected her to start telling jokes, which she promptly did, giving the compere a run for his money. In fact, I reckon a pairing of the two could pull in crowds comparable to Nigel Kennedy a couple of years back.
Her humour was self- deprecating and I always appreciate humourists who can laugh at themselves. At times it was seriously near the knuckle and for an audience largely of the older persuasion, I’m talking risqué.
However, the humour belied the serious side to the music which was quite disarming, even as she interrupted herself to continue a joke.
She has a powerful voice, more comfortable in the lower register but her range makes her really soulful when stretched and I cringe when I hear Adelle do this. In fact, Liane Carroll may well be the singer godzillions of people around the world think Adelle is.
Her delivery and scatting are spectacular, on occasion sounding like two singers, but she avoids the senseless warbling and pointless vocal gymnastics prevalent in the age of the ‘talent’ competitions, always remaining squarely on the side of good taste. She can do sultry with power and grain.
All of Me, Autumn Leaves, The Nearness of You? That Old Black Magic, Summertime, My Favourite Things - you get the picture. And here’s a twist, a slowed down, serious version of Bring me Sunshine.
She claimed she never wanted to be a serious piano player but merely to accompany herself but she managed considerably more than that. As a self-confessed band loving philistine, with the possible exception of an equally witty saxophonist, I don’t think she needs anybody else.
She thanked us for coming and for staying but her quip that the Big Band couldn’t be arsed to turn up may have been just too much for one nearby gentleman who promptly left; or maybe not.

James Birkett Trio
James Birkett (guitar), Paul Baxter (bass), Tom Townsend (drums).
Between the bands on the mainstage, we’re entertained in the lounge/café/bar area by a certain North East guitarist, his regular trio and an assortment of willing musicians passing by, professional or novice, who join him to play their instrument or sing. This proved particularly popular this year and, I’m reliably informed by Mrs B, especially on the Sunday.
I did see people leave the main hall to guarantee good seats to see Dominic sing a bossa nova, Andy play acoustic guitar and sing Summertime, Scarboroughs’ very own Brian Smith playing The Very Thought of You and Summertime on harmonica, troubled that Liane Carroll had just done them both (must have been at the loo for the former) but I suggested James had probably done Summertime at every session, maybe even twice.
Son of Festival Organiser, Mark Gordon sat in on piano for a number of songs over a couple of sessions at least, and somebody whose name I didn’t get played some inspired clarinet on In a Sentimental Mood, wringing everything he could get from it on a protracted coda.

Brandon Allen Sextet
Brandon Allen (tenor), Nigel Hitchcock (alto), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Ross Stanley (piano, Hammond), Sam Burgess (bass), Ian Thomas (drums).
I’ve seen Brandon Allen twice over the last few weeks and both are amongst the top half dozen gigs I’ve seen this year. This band, he announced, was specifically to get together with these bad motherfv(&£?$, the expletive tailing off, perhaps remembering his mother, (on a visit from his native Australia)  was in the audience with his lovely wife and child.
Stardust with solos on 'bone, tenor and piano followed by Jobim's No More Blues with solos on alto, Hammond and drums. With a stellar cast like this you can keep the soloing varied, interesting and exciting.
Stanley Turrentine's Don’t Mess with Mr T followed which I recognised from my Jazz Funk days, proving it wasn’t all bad. Ross took another Hammond solo, the presence of a bass player relinquishing him of those duties and making him think he was at the seaside, so he ate a tray of seafood and a tub of ice cream with his feet, just because he can.
The assembled horns came in behind the maestro and up we all went to the proverbial next level.
Brandon confessed to Gene Wilder being one of his heroes as a child so, by way of tribute, they played Pure Imagination. Not a set high for me as it’s sometimes difficult to separate a song from its original context which proved the case for me though it was a bold idea.
He asked if there were any Cole Porter fans in the house. Anybody not? So in Love gave us the only full bass solo of the set, preceded by alto and 'bone. Brandon rightly praised Hitchcock as a major saxophonist but I’d also like to single out Mark Nightingale, an artist I’ve just missed on a number of occasions, for his outstanding musicianship, unsurpassed in my experience on one of my favourite instruments.
Legrand’s You Must Believe in Spring, followed by the mother of all set closers. I’ve never heard any band play Mingus’ barnstorming Boogie Stomp Shuffle from the sublime album Mingus Ah Hum but I’m sure it must take world class musicians of this magnitude to pull it off.
Within the space of a few weeks I’ve heard Brandon Allen playing Miles' Second Great Quintet and a track from Mingus Ah Hum, one of the highlights of my life so far watching live Jazz. It doesn’t get better than that. (Excuse me – atiushaw).
As always, the audience is largely us oldies which is a particular shame at Scarborough as it’s always a bold and ambitious mix of old and new with many bands you feel could really appeal to a younger audience as well, particularly a band like Vula Viel, though I’m told more traditional Jazz is ‘cool’ amongst young people again.
I’ve done a Friday, done a Saturday and now I’ve done a Sunday so next year I must try to get to the whole thing. It’s a great town, a great venue and a great festival.
Steve T.

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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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