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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 Thursday April 27

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Rd., Holystone, Newcastle (ish) NE27 0DA. 1pm. Free.
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Evening.
Maine St. Jazzmen - Potters Wheel, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5EE. 8:30pm. 0191 4888068
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Dave Weisser & Alan Law - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm. £5. (Students free).
BABMUS Presents - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. £3 (£2 students).
Strictly Smokin' Big Band - The Millstone, Haddrick's Mill Rd., South Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 3DB. Free. 7pm. Open rehearsal.
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Emma Fisk's Hot Club du Nord - Lubetkin Theatre, East Durham College, Willerby Grove, Peterlee SR8 2RR.7pm. £8. 07425 145549.
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Paul Skerritt Band - The Pennyweight, Bakehouse Hill, Darlington DL1 5QA. 9pm. Free. 01325 468411.
Jazz Workshop w. Matt Roberts - Art Gallery, Crown St., Darlington DL1 1ND. 6pm. £5. Registration required. Part of Darlington Jazz Festival.
Richie Emmerson Quartet w Richie (tenor); Ted Pearce (keys); Alan Smith (bass) + drums tba - Dorman's, Oxford Rd., Middlesbrough. 9pm. Free.
New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - The Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees. 8:30pm.
Pocket Jazz Orchestra + Noel Dennis (trumpet) - The Ship, Church Lane, Redmarshall, Stockton TS21 1EP. Free. 8pm.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Jazz Christmas Carol @ Ushaw College. Dec 17

(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
County Durham’s jazz fans turned out en masse for this stellar occasion at Ushaw. The ‘never miss’ were joined by the ‘rarely miss’ and ‘others’ swelled audience numbers to such an extent that the majority of seats in the imposing Exhibition Hall were occupied shortly before the eight o’clock start. Alan Barnes’ A Jazz Christmas Carol attracted an audience of hardcore fans, musicians (‘night off’ entered in the diary months ago), and, no doubt, enthusiasts of Charles Dickens.
The Alan Barnes’ All Star Octet was just that – ‘all-star’. Last week’s announcement of this year’s British Jazz Awards (poll winners and the top five) couldn’t have been more opportune. Barnes himself won best clarinet, Mark Nightingale top trombone and Clark Tracey, drums. The other five members of the Octet – Karen Sharp and Robert Fowler, reeds, Bruce Adams, trumpet, Dave Newton, piano and Simon Thorpe, bass – placed in the top five in their respective categories.

Barnes played the part, attired in Victorian night clothes, looking a right old Dickensian! Brandishing a candlestick holder, bandleader Barnes extinguished the flame, the reading would now commence. Spectacles perched, our Dickensian read passages, stopping from time to time as a thought occurred, sharing an idea, an observation, unfailingly hilarious. The jazz? Ah! Music of such quality, the nonchalance of it all masked their mastery. The band members laughed along, whether they were hearing the joke for the first time or the umpteenth. The audience loved it, some scarcely suppressing a giggle in anticipation of a one-liner. Barnes’ long-time sparring partner Bruce Adams, himself a wit, chose to hold his counsel, steadfastly refusing to rise to the bait – Barnes describing a Dickensian feast of turkeys, hams, suckling pigs, and more, looked along the line at the ‘portly’ trumpeter (A Barnes’ description) asking: Has anyone been to lunch at Bruce’s house?

The jazz was superb. The Ghost of Jacob Marley (along with the Ghosts of Christmas, Past, Present and Yet to Come) the musical/literary device linking sections, featuring members of the band/cast. The Start of It heard a three clarinet frontline intro of Barnes, Karen Sharp (later cast as an unlikely Bah Humbug on baritone) and  Robert Fowler. To the left of Barnes stood Sharp and Fowler, then Adams and trombone master Mark Nightingale. Taking the opportunity to extol the talents of one of the world’s great trombone players, Barnes looked at Dave Newton seated to his right and wondered out loud why he wasted his time tinkering at the piano! Hoots of laughter, cue Mark Nightingale, one of the great trombone players.

Picking up the bass clarinet Barnes said: I don’t know what this is, but earlier I caught Dave Newton smoking it. I confiscated it and found I could get a tune out of it!  And how!
The frontline played acoustically. The cavernous Exhibition Hall, with its ornate vaulted roof, posed no problems in projecting the sound. The purring rhythm section (the bearded professorial looking Newton, the smiling bassist Simon Thorpe and the lugubrious award-winning Clark Tracey, drums) offered a master class of its own. And so, we came to The End of It. Barnes closed the book, spectacles to one side, the band went out swinging on  God Bless Us Everyone.

Dickens done, Barnes’ All Star Octet left us with a few Christmas tunes (Bah Humbug!). The Christmas Song, the rhythm section boys soloing by way of introduction on Winter Wonderland and a sprinkling of Blue Monk on Santa Claus is Coming to Town. A five-star entertainment, Merry (Bah Humbug!) Christmas!                                        
Russell.
Alan Barnes (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Karen Sharp (tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet), Robert Fowler (tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet), Bruce Adams (trumpet), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Dave Newton (piano), Simon Thorpe (double bass) & Clark Tracey (drums)

1 comment :

  1. Summed up artfully, Russell - a great gig; the album is a cracker too AND there is still time for Santa to deliver it to your Christmas stocking! Available for a miserly sum of £10 here: http://www.woodvillerecords.com/A-Jazz-Christmas-Carol.htm

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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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