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Number 22 in World Jazz Blog Rankings

Number 22 in World Jazz Blog Rankings

Bebop Spoken There

Howard Riley: “When I started out playing jazz back in the late 50s, early 60s, if you wanted a gig you had to learn some standards.” – (Jazz Journal April 2017)

Eric Harland: “I love swing and I’m always going to swing but I also know that you can take a hip-hop groove and improvise with that just like you would with a swing pattern.” – (Jazz Journal April 2017)

Today Sunday April 30

All Day.
Darlington Jazz Festival - details.
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International Jazz Day - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. From 2pm 'til late. Free - details.
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Strictly Smokin' Small Band - Gateshead Beer and Music Festival - Gateshead RFC, Eastwood Gdns., Low Fell NE9 5UB. £12 admission to beer festival. Band play 1:45pm - 2:35pm.
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Afternoon.
Joel Byrne McCullough - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 12:30pm. Free.
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.
Evening
Nick Ross Orchestra (Glenn Miller) - Forum Theatre, Queensway, Billingham. 7:30pm. £22 (£20.50 conc.).
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Interview with Ellery Eskelin

Russell interviewed saxophonist Ellery Eskelin ahead of the New Yorker's UK\tour and the Jazz North East/Jazz Coop gig at The Globe, Newcastle on October 14. 
Hi Ellery
You were raised in the Baltimore area and fortunate in being able to work with the likes of Gary Bartz, Bob Berg and Tom Harrell. It would appear that Baltimore had a healthy and vibrant jazz scene at the time?
Hello Russell,
Yes, I was raised in Baltimore but for the record, I did not work with the musicians you’ve mentioned.  They performed in Baltimore and occasionally I would have the opportunity to sit in with such recognized folks.  I feel that Baltimore had a wonderful tradition but I don’t know that the jazz scene was as vibrant when I was coming up in the ‘70s as compared to the ‘40s and ‘50s.  My feeling is that things changed dramatically in the 1960’s not only in Baltimore but all over.  Popular tastes changed, television became a dominant force and youth culture became more emphasized. 
And what is the city like these days?
I’m not sure I can give an accurate assessment, as I have not lived there in over thirty years.  But I do get back from time to time for performances and teaching seminars and my sense is that there are some very dedicated folks who are taking this seriously, creating and maintaining a scene. 

Gene Ammons was an early influence. Who put you onto him?
My stepfather bought me my first Gene Ammons record when I was about 14 years old.  I think he had heard Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt play live a number of times.  I later heard Sonny Stitt play live but regrettably never Gene Ammons.

In the 1980s you relocated to New York. Did you go there with a definite plan or did you play it by ear, as it were?
Well, my plan was to stay although I didn’t really know exactly how that would work.  I had enough money saved from being on the road (with trombonist Buddy Morrow) that I knew I could last a year even if I had no work.  But fortunately I was able to gain enough traction and so here we are.

Looking at your resumé, drummers figure prominently in much of your work - Jim Black from way back, Han Bennink, Gerald Cleaver, Gerry Hemingway, Bobby Previte. All of these guys have played gigs in the north east of England, so we know how good they are. One senses that they’re important to you, is that right?
Sure thing.  Rhythm is the basis of this music.

Trio New York explores the Great American Songbook. In a recent interview with online journal Point of Departure you said swing is ‘not a historical practice to be left behind’. A further revelation ‘amplified sound is often ruinous to the music’ suggests you have a real affinity with the so-called ‘tradition’ yet you are working in a contemporary creative field of music making. Do your peers share your thinking on these matters?
I’m not so sure.  I don’t know that folks necessarily disagree with me on this but I do know that the general orientation of the music has changed rather strongly over time.  This is, of course, natural.  But as I am now 57 years old I’m recognizing that it’s important that I share my experience and values.  If things are taken too much for granted we lose important aspects of our culture.

You are a regular visitor to Europe. Have you ever considered an extended stay?
That’s crossed my mind but as I have a family here in NYC I’m not inclined to make such a major change.  Also, as challenging as NYC can be I do feel very strongly that the great variety of people and approaches to music available greatly fuels my creativity.

Your British tour, organised by Kim Macari’s Orpheus project, will see you working with guitarist Chris Sharkey and pianist Matt Bourne. One assumes you know little about them and their approach to improvisation. Will you have some time to get to know the guys, or will you simply hit the road and see what happens?
We will take some time before the first concert to get familiar with each other and try some things.  But I think we all share the attitude that the music will reveal itself in the performances.

The final date on your tour - Newcastle, October 14 - is familiar territory for this blog and Chris Sharkey. Chris hails from Gateshead just across the river. You’re sure to be given a tour of the hot spots! Enjoy your visit, we look forward to hearing you at the Globe on October 14. Thanks for taking time out to speak to Bebop Spoken Here.     

Thank You Russell, I’m looking very much forward.
Ellery Eskelin Trio: The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm £10/£8 concessions. JNE/Jazz Coop.

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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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