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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)

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Today Tuesday September 26

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Black Bull, 98 Front St., East Boldon NE36 0SG. 1pm. Free. 0191 5365127. New residency 2 mins from East Boldon metro.
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Evening
Maine Street Jazzmen - Royal British Legion, West Jesmond Ave., Newcastle NE2 3EX. 8:30pm. £5.
Charles Gordon (solo piano) - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle. 10pm - midnight. 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, August 15, 2017

Book Review: Trevor Barre - Convergences, Divergences & Affinities (Compass Publishing 2017)

Not being over-familiar with the genre, free improvisation, it would be unfair of me to pass judgement on this well-written and equally well-researched historical treatise. Nevertheless, before moving on to the Press Release, I will make a few observations. Steve Beresford claims that Free Improv. is not jazz...some of it sounds like jazz but they're not playing it. This equates with what Charlie Parker said about Bebop, that it's not jazz. This has, forever, been the problem with any new art form and music in particular. The listener judges the 'new thing' using the values of its predecessor. Neither better nor worse, the key word is 'different'.
At one point, someone - it may have been the author - opines that everything that happened after the 1970s was a form of revivalism. Not just in jazz but all art forms. I'm saying that it was the author but it may actually have been someone I was discussing the book with. If it was, I apologise, but it may well be true.
A quote from the press release below is a good summing up: Written in a non-technical way, inviting newcomers to free improvisation to learn about what can initially appear a very opaque scene, as well as wanting to appeal to those older fans who like a good story, Convergences will attract, not repel.
The author's wife, when asked to define the differences between the '60s and the '70s said: "It was when trousers went straight".
The fact that a mouldy old figge [by today's standards] like me found it near-unputdownable says much for the writer. I'll certainly be looking at improv. with a less jaundiced view in the future thanks to Trevor Barre.
However, in case you think this is not without its pitfalls there are a couple of minor points I feel obliged to make.
1) An index would have greatly enhanced it as a tool of reference.
2) The regional scene isn't given quite as much attention as promised. In our neck of the woods, the North Eastern Musicians Collective and Spectro are mentioned briefly and there's an oblique reference to Sunderland. York and Leeds too are cited but I'd have liked more.
However, these are minor quibbles and - whatever your views - it's a very good read.
Lance.
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(Press Release)
Sub-titled The Second Wave Of Free Improvisation In England, 1973-79, this is Barre’s second book about English Free Improvisation, and follows his Beyond Jazz, The Golden Age Of Free Music in London, 1966-72, an account of the genre’s formative years. Beyond Jazz was well received and gained many favourable reviews in the press. In particular, it seemed that the book both shone a light on, and provided a much-needed account of, a music that had previously been next to ignored in the media. It was, in fact, the first such book of its kind, surprising given the lionisation of most other genres from the ’60s and ’70s.

 If Beyond Jazz suggests a Golden Age, then Convergences can be said to cover a seven-year Silver Age, when free improv developed and changed, whilst remaining challenging and provocative, England’s very own avant-garde, which paralleled and interacted with more popular strains like punk and post-punk. A fair amount of recorded evidence exists and is discussed in the book, and we are lucky that it is complemented by the contemporary magazine Musics, which is also studied in some detail as the house organ of the “movement”. The emergence of a “second generation” is studied, and the continuing work of the first, and the formation of several musical collectives/cooperatives across the country, gets the attention it finally deserves. The figures of Steve Beresford, Lol Coxhill and Terry Day are identified as key mischief-making talents that represent the serious fun that the music provided, and get their own dedicated sections in the book.

Written in a non-technical way, inviting newcomers to free improvisation to learn about what can initially appear a very opaque scene, as well as wanting to appeal to those older fans who like a good story, Convergences will attract, not repel.

Along with Beyond Jazz, Convergences, Divergences & Affinities continues the history of this fascinating and divisive art form. The two books together chronicle the first 15 years of English free improvisation, a hard to generify area of music that is still manifesting

As well as encouraging those new to the genre to listen without prejudice, the book will prompt veteran listeners to reinvestigate its roots, dig out old recordings and venture out to witness the music live – the best way, in Barre’s view – to appreciate its joys and challenges.

About the author
Trevor Barre has been a fan of the music since the early ’70s. Since retiring as a mental health practitioner, he has found the time to translate his enthusiasms into the written word. Many moons ago, he managed a record shop, which aided his burgeoning vinyl dependence. He has lived in London for 32 years, usually within striking distance of improvised music venues, is married, and has three children.

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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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