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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 Saturday September 23

Scarborough Jazz Festival - Day two of three.
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Evening
Bradley Johnston (solo guitar) - Cherry Tree, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 2AE. 7:30pm. No cover charge.
Rockafellas - Billy Bootleggers, 28 Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free.
Tobie Carpenter Organ Trio - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm. £10.
Thin Man + Jon Gordon - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm. Free.
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Nikki Iles & Stan Sulzmann - Great Hall, Hexham Abbey, Hexham NE46 3NB. 10pm. £10/£8.
Pat McMahon Trio - Tannery, Gilesgate, Hexham NE46 3QD. 01434 605537. 9pm. Free.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

AMBLESIDE DAYS – A celebration of world class contemporary music Thursday August 31 to Sunday September 3, 2017












(An appreciation by Hugh C/Photos - apart from final one - courtesy of Nadja von Massow https://nad.works/

Nestling below Fairfield, where West Coast meets East Coast at the Northern end of Windermere, lies Ambleside, perhaps an unexpected location for a venue boasting world class musicians in the line-up. 
Some thirty-seven years ago, Derek Hook, one-time rock drummer and butcher, first opened Zeffirellis, a compact complex of cinema, vegetarian restaurant and jazz bar.  Over the years Hook has managed to attract a host of jazz luminaries to perform at Zeffirellis, many of whom were represented at the festival.  In 2016 Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker and Iain Dixon played at Zeffirellis as part of the Lake District Summer Music Festival.  It was following this event that Derek Hook had the idea for a celebration of the best in contemporary music.
The festival was dedicated to the late John Taylor (piano) who had been a long-time supporter of the venue and in 1992 had composed and recorded (with John Surman) a suite of music, Ambleside Days, a commission by Zeffirellis with the assistance of Northern Arts.

The festival ran over four consecutive days, taking place on the small stage in the main cinema.  Each evening performance consisted of two sets, a 60-minute set, followed by a long interval (to permit rearrangement of the stage) and a second 90-minute set.  The only permanent fixture on the stage was the Steinway B, chosen by Derek Hook with John Taylor in the early days of Zeffirellis to replace an old Bluthner grand piano.
Each set over the course of the festival involved a different mixture of musicians, all of whom had an association with Zeffirellis and a connection with John Taylor - either having played with him, been taught by him or just revered his work.

Thursday evening commenced with Crème Anglaise, a five-piece band led by John Helliwell (of former Supertramp fame) on tenor sax.  Mike Walker featured on guitar (as he did on many of the sets).  The band set the bar high for those following, a particularly poignant rendition of Georgia sticks in my mind.  The second set featured the appropriately named Ambleside Days Quintet (Simcock, Holland, Walker, Sirkis, Sulzmann).  Fine solos were interspersed by sensitive ensemble playing.  Naturally, Ambleside Days featured as one of the pieces played.

Friday commenced with (yes, you guessed it) the Ambleside Days Trio (Simcock, Holland, Walker) on a crowded stage already filled by vibraphone and drums in readiness for the second set.  The trio gave us Simple Goodbye in memory of John Taylor.  This piece was composed by Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker before John Taylor's death and then named It Could Have Been a Simple Goodbye.  During and after this piece there was not a dry eye in the house or on the stage.  The second set featured New York vibes maestro Joe Locke with his quartet comprising Simcock, Sirkis, double bass player Darryl Hall (all the way from the South of France) and joined by special guest, saxophonist Tim Garland, sporting a vibrant silver and black jacket.  The memory of fellow vibes player Bobby Hutcherson, inspiration and mentor to Joe Locke, was celebrated by Locke's Make Me Feel Like It's Raining – based on a response by Bobby Hutcherson to an interviewer who asked what he (Hutcherson) wanted  a new, unfamiliar piece of music to do for him.

Saturday featured a trio of Simcock, Locke and Garland in the first set.  The second set featuring The Printmakers (Norma Winstone, Nikki Iles, Mark Lockheart, Mike Walker, Steve Watts and James Maddren), whose CD Westerly was actually recorded in Derek Hooks' other venue: Yewfield  - a vegetarian guest house conveniently located just outside Ambleside and concurrently providing accommodation to the musicians involved in the festival.

Sunday's offering was An Evening with Dave Holland, Holland playing unaccompanied double bass in the first set and joining with Norma Winstone, Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker for the second set, with other musicians joining later in the evening.

The musicians spoke eloquently of the feeling of “family” associated with the event itself and Zeffirellis.  Indeed, many of the musicians not playing in a particular set were present in the audience with other family members.  The family feeling was extended to the audience, who were mingling freely with artists in the small bar area before, in the intervals and after the gigs.  The intimacy of the venue (and comfort of the cinema seats!) lent itself to what one might consider the “chamber jazz” featuring on stage.

I was not able to be present for the whole festival (despite the tempting reduction on a festival pass).  The two days I was there, however, were very special.  Other BSH regulars may be able to add a comment regarding the gigs I missed. 
I understand from conversations at the festival that this sort of event may be repeated in the future – I certainly hope so!  Furthermore, the concerts were recorded for promotional purposes – perhaps consideration could be made to making selected recorded material available in the future.

The original CD by John Taylor and John Surman, Ambleside Days, is sadly out of print – but used copies can be obtained from the usual fluvial sources priced from £95 upwards!
Hugh C. 
Photos.
Personnel:
Dave Holland  - double bass
Norma Winstone – voice
Nikki Iles – piano
Mike Walker – guitar
Stan Sulzmann – saxophone
Gwilym Simcock – piano
Joe Locke – vibraphone
John Helliwell – saxophone
Mark Lockheart – saxophone
Tim Garland – saxophone
Steve Watts – double bass
James Maddren – drums
Asaf Sirkis – drums
Darryl Hall – double bass

5 comments :

  1. You've summed it up perfectly Hugh. We were at the Saturday night gig with Locke/Garland/Simcock trio and The Printmakers. The trio were stunning - Joe Locke on vibes & his interplay with Gwilym Simcock's piano was extraordinary. The Printmakers managed to follow it up with a compelling, entirely different set. Gig of the year.

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  2. Enjoyed reading your review, Hugh. It made me think I should have been there.

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  3. From the Twitter photo it looks like "A Great Day in Ambleside"

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  4. Fantastic venue, fantastic atmosphere, and yes the weather was pretty good too.

    Made me feel like it was raining...

    but when we went outside, it wasn't!

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  5. I am reliably informed there WILL be a repeat next year.

    Watch this space!

    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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