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Bebop Spoken There

Dewey Redman: "When Trane came to Bop City in San Francisco and told me he liked the way I played, I stayed high off that forever." - (Downbeat June 1980.)

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Nick Brignola: “I got to talk to John Coltrane before he was John Coltrane!” – (Jazz Journal April 1991)

Archives.

Today Wednesday January 18

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.
Ruth Lambert w. Alan Law Trio - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. No cover charge.
Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:30pm. £3.00. Note earlier start and a small increase in admission.
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Tees Hot Club - Cleveland Bay, 718 Yarm Rd., Eaglescliffe, TS16 0JE. 9pm. Free.
To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Cookers @ Sage Gateshead - November 14.

David Weiss, Eddie Henderson (trumpets); Craig Handy (alto); Billy Harper (tenor); Danny Grissett (piano); Cecil McBee (bass); Billy Hart  (drums).
(Review by Lance/Billy Harper photo courtesy of Pam Young).
It had been some 18 months since these gentlemen of the road last appeared at Sage Gateshead and, as the minutes ticked by I began to think it might be another 18 months before they got here - well done British Airways! In the event, the delay was only 45 minutes and it soon became obvious that jetlag wasn't going to be a problem.
Because of the later start, the concert was one non-stop set without the customary intermission which, no doubt, affected the bar takings.
It was a cracking set composed mainly of originals by Harper and McBee with the only ringer being Freddie Hubbard's The Core which was also the closer. 
Listening to these venerable musicians (Grissett at 41 and Weiss at 52 the new kids on the 52nd St. block) was like seeing the Battle of Hastings through the eyes, or rather eye, of King Harold. They'd been there, done it and got the tuxedo. Not that they were wearing tuxes tonight. Grey lounge suits as befitted the music - casual but not sloppy.
Billy Harper, a most prodigious tenor player, whom I first encountered playing a tune titled Fingers on a Thad Jones/Mel Lewis LP. Last night, I swear, he'd grown an extra ten fingers since that first encounter. Down the middle tenor, occasionally  looking to the outside with shimmering sheets of sound. My kind of saxophone playing. Craig Handy wailed as only alto saxophonists can - my kind of wailing.
David Weiss (no, I haven't missed the er off) played with the fluency of a Clifford Brown or a Lee Morgan - my kind of trumpet playing. By contrast, Henderson played with a fuller tone albeit with less notes. Nothing wrong with that, he made every note count. Also my kind of trumpet playing.
Danny Grissett was a new name to me, Faced with stepping into the shoes of George Cables must have been a daunting prospect but the shoes fitted. My kind of footwear. Cecil McBee, a bass playing, jazz composing legend. 81 year old and still walking the dog. My kind of bassman.
Which just leaves Billy Hart. Did I say 'just'? When the (drum) roll is called up yonder he'll be there and pretty close to the right hand of you know who. Hopefully not  for a long time yet. To describe him as phenomenal is an understatement and I'm not just talking about his lengthy, yet imaginative, drum solo at the end but the backing he gave the soloists and the ensembles. When it comes to driving he could give my taxi driver a lesson [don't ask!] No wrong turns with Billy Hart. He knows where he's going and how to get there. My kind of legend. 
My kind of band.
Lance.

4 comments :

  1. Not surprisingly given their horrendous journey and the increased pressure put on the band by their delay I thought the performance was a little undercooked. Despite the obvious class of all the band members the gas could have been turned up a couple of regulos

    ReplyDelete
  2. The musicianship spoke for itself and I liked it a lot but didn't love it. Maybe my expectations were high; how often do you sit in a well short of full Sage 2 level 1 with Sir Lancelot, Lord Paul, Admiral Hardy, Lord and Lady Clark, Duke Bream, Viscount Russell, Count Eales, a lady and a princess whose names I don't know (not to mention the other Steve), and apologies to everyone I've missed.

    Funny story. Following a stint with pre- Headhunters Herbie, Eddie Henderson became one of the big names in Jazz-funk.
    Mahal was one of my favourite albums of the (sub) genre and featured a track called Cyclops which some bright-spark DJs started playing at 45. This wasn't an isolated incident and I wish I could remember the other record which suffered this indignity. I believe Cyclops even came out on a 12" single (probably unknown to him) pre-sped up.

    I often wonder how this happens: did somebody play all albums at 45 just in case? Did the same person play all singles at 33? I have visions of Lance digging his 78s back out.
    It's probably far less interesting and somebody just thought it was a good record but too slow for the dancefloor. I always preferred it at the speed he recorded it at but I love the idea of young people googling 33, 45 and 78.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm with both Steves on this. I had been anticipating this gig with tremendous enthusiasm (especially as I had missed the band's previous Sage appearance), but it fell some way short of my expectations. Certainly the nightmare journey from Germany that the band had suffered won't have helped, and the rushed preparations perhaps accounted for some of the sound problems, but I just felt that there was an overall lack of focus in the performance as a whole and in many of the solos. I don't usually have a problem with long solos (and I've sat through some monsters in my time), but there were occasions here when I sensed that the musicians were recycling ideas without much sense of structure or direction. Artists of the quality of Billy Harper and Craig Handy (indeed, all seven members of the band) are rarely going to play badly, and they didn't do so here, but equally there were few real heights in anybody's performance.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to have been at the gig, I remain in awe at the musicianship of all the artists, and there were a handful of standout moments (Eddie Henderson on his ballad feature was beautifully measured), but "even great Homer nods", and nobody was on consistently top form throughout the concert. Which won't stop me going to see them again if the opportunity comes round.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I took an old friend from Edinburgh as a birthday treat, who hasn't seen them before. We both thought they were outstanding and I actually thought it was a better gig than last years, good as that was.

    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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