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Bebop Spoken There

Vadim Neselovskyi, Professor of Jazz Piano, Berklee College of Music: “Every pianist has to deal with a very complex left-hand part at some point. This is the essential pianistic experience – to split your brain into two halves and execute two very different tasks at the same time.” – (Down Beat September 2017).

Roscoe Mitchell: “To me, improvisation is trying to improve your skills so you can make these on-point compositional decisions. That takes practice.” – (Down Beat September 2017)

Archives

Thursday September 21

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Rd., nr. Newcastle NE27 0DA. 1:oopm. Free.
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Tees Valley Jazzmen - White Horse Hotel, Burtree Lane, Harrowgate Hill, Darlington DL1 3AD. 1:30pm. Free. 01325 463262.

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Evening.
Maine Street Jazzmen - Potter's Wheel, Sunniside NE16 5EE. 8:30pm. Free.
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Courtney Pine: Black Notes from the Deep - Sage Gateshead NE8 2JR. 7:30pm. £25.60. 0191 4434661.
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Katie Mac (w. 6 piece band) - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. Free.
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Emma Fisk & James Birkett - St. Cuthbert's Church, Shadforth DH6 1LF. 7:30pm.
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Pocket Jazz Orchestra: Jazz & Tapas - No. 60, Arc, Dovecote St., Stockton TS18 1LL. 7pm. £10.
Tees Hot Club w. Alan Marshall (saxes); Kevin Eland (trumpet); Ted Pearce (keys) - Dormans, Oxford Rd., Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. 9pm. Free.
New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton TS18 4AW. 8:30pm.01642 678129.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

HTrio @ The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle - December 4

Mark Hanslip (tenor), Otto Willberg (bass), Andrew Cheetham (drums). 
(Review by Steve T/Photo courtesy of Ken Drew)
Having been floored by the unrelenting intensity of the JD Allen Trio, it will be some time before I dare miss another sax, bass and drums trio, and this one a mere fifty mile round trip. 
On the surface, they were the same thing, but in reality were worlds apart. Like the folky regulars downstairs in the Bridge who seemed to spontaneously burst into a version of Sloop John B which couldn't quite decide whether it was skiffle or novelty West Coast boy band; (oops, another sacred cow sacrificed).
Good evening ladies and gentlemen he'd intended to say but realised there weren't any ladies in da house. Not too many men either but such is the nature of this type of thing, though I'm not sure how people knew it would be so free; I certainly didn't. A late arrival bolstered the numbers to around sixteen including Jazz North East people and a lady who appeared to thoroughly enjoy it. It's also worth noting that the numbers more or less held up for the second part.

We got two set long pieces of roughly forty-five minutes, though I don't know how they kept track of time since the notion of an ending seemed entirely arbitrary. I certainly lost track of time, which is a good indicator. Neither piece was given a title and, chatting with the drummer and bass player (the smokers though I'm not) during the interval, I told them about a live Derek Bailey album where, when asked for an encore, he asked if they wanted him to do it again.
In the spirit of Miles at the Isle of Wight, I propose More of the Same for the second piece since what we got, as far as I can tell, was one continuous improvisation with a break in the middle, much needed by band and audience.

Once again Trane was the touchstone and, for the drummer at least, specifically Interstellar Space. Inevitably Ornette Coleman was the other major influence and I'm reminded that much of his seminal stuff was piano-less. Albert Ayler, another major Free Jazz saxophonist claimed that sounds were more important than solos and this was much in evidence here, Otto wielding his bow, Mark getting popping sounds from his sax, and Andrew with his chair of tricks, including a conveyor belt of sticks as he discarded or lost them, a tea towel, what looked like a log and a metal dish thingy.

Weather Report said “we never solo, we always solo” and this is far truer of HTrio. At least four times during part one it burst into something approximating rhythmic; in part two the drummer appeared to take a fully blown drum solo but his colleagues just continued. He told me he's a jobbing pop/rock drummer impersonating a jazz drummer. I thought he was doing a very good impression of Ginger Baker doing a very good impression of Elvin Jones.

Nowadays some academics and musicians engage in discussion about what percentage of improvisation is actually composition, though it's a spurious argument more about process, or even semantics. Some say it's on the spot composition but even that isn't straightforward. I recall the sax player spotting something the bass player was doing and adding his voice to enhance it and this type of performance hangs on how well the musicians know each other, including their style, traits, riffs, motifs, tendencies, habits, influences, thought processes etc. These three know each other well.

I generally prefer more melody amongst my improvisation, more recurring themes amongst my freedom and more jouissance among my plaissure. This may come as a surprise from someone who snipes at the random selection of song-smiths arbitrarily chosen for greatness by the mythmakers in the media. However, my preference is for songs, or at least melody as a jumping off point for music.

I don't spend a lot of time listening to this type of stuff for fun, but as a one-off, in a particular moment in time and space, on a coffee fuelled, alcohol-free Sunday night, it was riveting.
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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