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Bebop Spoken There

Randy Brecker: "It's still a thrill for me today to stand out front of a big band as the soloist and hear all that sound going on behind you. It brings the best out of me" - (DownBeat June 2019).

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2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The voting is open between now and May 31 to enable site visitors to nominate their choices in the various categories of this year's APPJAG awards which can be done here.
BSH was very proud to be nominated and to win the 2018 Media Award and hope we can have your support again this year.

Today Wednesday May 22

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.

Julija Jacenaite & Alan Law - Jazz Café, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 261 5618. 2:00pm. Free. Café Mezzanine (first floor, access via crafts shop).

Evening

Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £1.00.

Blues

Moonshine Sessions - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 8:30pm. Free.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music 2017 @ Black Swan Bar & Venue - September 30

(Review by Steve T/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
Julien Desprez took to the stage armed with a guitar and pedals and went straight into what I guess you could call an extended riff, lasting sufficiently long enough to make me wonder whether it would be the whole piece or even set. Europeans don't seem to have the same rush to get to the hook that we do, perhaps it’s a result of our preoccupation with pop music that we seem to do it better than the rest of the world.
Suddenly! he began striking the guitar intermittently, creating an explosion of sound. Long-suffering but eternally patient guitarist observer Mrs T joked he has anger management issues but another lady admitted to actually being a little scared. We were taken on a journey in sound utilising the full arsenal available to a modern day guitarist. He was up and down out of his seat like Westlife through a string of big key changes, when resolution was finally offered, it ended just as it had begun.
Is it Jazz? Is it music or just sound? Is all sound music? Was he playing guitar or could it just as easily have been a keyboard? Or a computer? Does it matter?
Artists generally say they prefer a response - any response - rather than indifference. They want us to love it but would rather we hate it than have nil response. Job done.
Next up, Schnellertollermeier (Andi Schnellmann (bass), Manuel Troller (guitar), David Meier (drums)a straightforward power trio, right? A bit more for the average music listener to hang on to. Very much a group effort, so more Cream than Hendrix, with the powerhouse drummer, obligatory in Progressive Jazz Rock. 
At times reminiscent of Discipline era King Crimson, there were lots of layers of sound, complex poly-rhythms, some bowed bass and much repetition, giving it an industrial feel, perhaps drawing on kraut rock or math rock, subgenres anathema to my field of expertise, maybe because they deliberately jettison any claim to soulfulness, so crucial to the tradition of Black American Music.
Rather than any Hendrix type blowout, the guitar sound remained more indie pop. A bit 'punk' my wife claimed, a major trigger word for me, but this wasn't punk at all, this was real. The crowds watching the pop/rock guitar covers band in the pub up the road, or Elvis with Nirvana at the 02 Academy would have done themselves a favour visiting the Swan instead of deluding themselves theirs was an act of rebellion.

Guitar joined by sax on the surface seemed more accessible than solo guitar but, when saxophonist Mette Rasmussen joined Julien Desprez, this proved the most difficult and challenging set of the evening.
Think Ornette and James Blood Ulmer on superskunk, turned up to twelve and furious over something. Steve H argued vociferously she's up with the best saxophonists he's ever seen anywhere ever and I have no argument with the level of virtuosity, but it's never enough on its own. Just when you thought they'd finished, they came back fiercer, faster, furiouser.
Not the sort of thing I would listen to more than once, but maybe that's the point.

Many, young and old, clearly couldn't get enough of this stuff but, those of us for whom this wasn't an entirely comfortable zone, Troyka (Chris Montague (guitar), Kit Downes (keyboards), Joshua Blackmore (drums) proved a welcome respite.
Not that their music is in any way straightforward or easily accessible. Lots of funky, syncopated drumming, lots of Progressive Jazz Rock and more pedals than a tandem tour, with weird sounds coming from guitar and keyboards alongside a warming approximation of a classic Hammond organ sound. If the earlier band were more Trio of Doom, that would make Troyka more akin to Lifetime.

So, much to cherish for anyone who likes John McLaughlin and/or Tony WIlliams and something for Jaco and Larry Young people too, Troyka also reminding me of post Jaco Weather Report at times.
Some had the night of their lives, others didn't. Some were sufficiently intrigued for it to be essential, others weren't. 

2 comments :

stevebfc said...

I had been looking forward to this gig from when it was announced Julien Desprez being one my favourite guitarists and Mette Rasmussen one being one of my favourite saxophonists and I certainly wasn't disappointed by either performer. I still stand by my hyperbole of the evening about how great I think the pair are. The opening solo set by Desprez was so dynmamic and creative that it did disturb my friend but the excitement of having no idea about what was going to happen next was for me exhillirating. As for Schnellertollermeier they were more Swiss rock and roll rather than Jelly Roll. Troyka had the disadvantage of coming on after the amazing Desprez/Rasmussen set so it took a while to adjust their stuff but a few minutes I managed to retune and enjoyed the rest of the set immensely

Steve T said...

Great - some discussion.
I remember I used to play Dancing Queen (my wifes of course) after Tranes 57 mins of My Favourite Things, 2 tracks off Judy Mowatts Black Woman after Petrushka, and Spice Girls after Ravel.
I guess you do it in reverse.

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