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Bebop Spoken There

Andrew Hadro: "It seems to me that everybody just puts out an album, they go through the motions, spend the money and they just sort of throw it out there into the sea of CDs and hope something comes back" - (DownBeat June 2018).

Jonnathan Blake (Blindfold Test): “Maybe it's someone from New Orleans who has lived in New York for a minute.” (DownBeat June 2018).

Friday, May 25, 2018

Stu Collingwood Trio @ The Fire Station, Sunderland - May 24

Stu Collingwood (piano); Andy Champion (bass); Russ Morgan (drums).
(Review by Lance/Photos courtesy of Russell).
A good acquaintance of mine remarked that he thought I was too fulsome with my praise when writing reviews. As this was from a person whose opinion I respect, I gave the matter some thought and came to the conclusion that he was right!
However, by way of explanation, I'll admit that when I like something or somebody I'm not afraid to show it. On the other hand, if I don't like something or somebody, I just keep my big mouth shut. After all, this isn't God speaking and all criticism is 99% subjective anyway. My friend mentioned jam session reviews which is a different kettle of fish altogether. Often some of the participants are relatively new to the game and speaking as one who knows the 1000 deaths a person can go through before plucking up the courage to play or sing (or even draw the raffle!) the last thing I want to do is quench their enthusiasm (the legend of Charlie Parker and the cymbal incident with Jo Jones springs to mind*). 
Constructive criticism? Well-meaning words but, in practice, not always seen that way by the recipient. Also, I think most musicians know whether they've played well or not without being told.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

CD Review: Matt Anderson Quartet - Rambling

Matt Anderson (tenor & alto saxophones); Peter Lee (piano, keyboards); Will Harris (double bass); Jay Davis (drums) + Nick Malcolm (trumpet) tracks 1,2,6,9,10; Owen Dawson (trombone) tracks 1,2,6,9,10; Aubin Vanns (guitar) tracks 1,2,9,10
(Review by Russell). 
Rambling is Matt Anderson’s follow up to his 2015 debut recording Wild Flower. The saxophonist’s quartet – Peter Lee, piano and keyboards, Will Harris, double bass and drummer Jay Davis – with the addition of contributions from trumpeter Nick Malcolm, trombonist Owen Dawson, and guitarist Aubin Banns, further enhances the Yorkshireman’s reputation as an accomplished composer. The ten tracks on this Jellymould release were written by Anderson and the band leader has the grace and humility to state that track number four – Count Up/Tune Down – is based on John Coltrane’s Countdown.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Jam Session @ Dun Cow, Jesmond - May 23.

Mark Williams (guitar); Paul Grainger (bass); Russ Morgan (drums) + Kay Usher (violin); Paul Ruddick (alto); Matt MacKellar (drums); Kevin Green (soprano); Pete Gilligan (piano); Dan Garel (alto).
(Review by Lance).
There comes a time in a person's life when he or she realises something special is happening. In music, and jazz in particular, that moment sometimes happens and sometimes it doesn't.
Tonight it happened!
The jam was progressing nicely. Mark Williams, at his most sensitive, got the set underway with I Should Care and all three slugged it out on Solar culminating with a knockout solo from Russ - Solar power indeed!
Kay Usher swung On the Sunny Side of the Street following up with a faster than usual Willow Weep For Me- it worked.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Remembering Kay Rouselle

Drummer/Bandleader Ian Lawrence (Stocks) sent me this photo of the late Kay Rouselle singing with his big band and remarking that he rarely hears mention of her these days which is a pity as, at one time, not only was she winning beauty contests but also went on to become possibly the best vocalist to sing with the Don Smith Band at Newcastle’s famous ballroom, the Oxford Galleries.*
Ian believes Kay’s last big band gig was with his band. She sang with the band for a number of years playing gigs in both England and Scotland.
Although the band included many top local musicians such as Ray Harley and Arthur Mowatt, it didn’t, says Ian, stop Kay speaking her mind if she thought something wasn’t being played right.

Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club - May 21

Herbie Hudson (trombone, harmonica, vocals); Brian Chester (keyboards, trombone); John Carstairs Hallam (double bass); Fred Thompson (drums) + Roy Gibson (keyboards); Teresa Armstrong (vocals); John Broddle (vocals)
(Review by Russell). 
Blue skies at the coast! Folk paddling in Cullercoats Bay, some exploring Smuggler’s Cave others out at Crab Hill, a rare warm afternoon down at the coast. Meanwhile at Cullercoats Crescent Club if it’s a Monday it has to be Jazz in the Afternoon. JITA isn’t exactly JATP but its longevity has put the once thriving fishing village of Cullercoats on the jazz map. One o’clock in the bar, a choice of toasties, chips, a pint courtesy of one of the many local micro-breweries – on this occasion Queen of the Nile from the High Spen-based Olde Potting Shed Brewery.

CD Review: Jamie Shew - Eyes Wide Open

Jamie Shew (vocals, arrangements); Larry Koonse (guitars); Joe Bagg (piano and Hammond B3); Darek Oles (bass); Jason Harnell (drums)
(Review by Ann Alex).
‘This one’s a cracker’ said Lance as he handed over the CD, and it certainly is. Yet I reckon that it’s a miracle that it was ever made, as it’s literally a labour of love. Jamie Shew uses song to tell the story of her 20 year relationship with her husband, bass player Roger Shew, who sadly died of cancer. She traces their lives together in music, with good taste and a lack of sentimentality, and even manages to look to the future.

Monday, May 21, 2018

RIP Tony Pringle

John Carstairs Hallam has informed me (via Russell) of the death of Liverpool born/Massachusetts based cornet player Tony Pringle of the New Black Eagle Jazz Band. 
I must confess to being unfamiliar with him. Did he ever play at any of the Whitley Bay Jazz Festivals/Jazz Parties I wonder?
Reading his obituary in the Syncopated Times, which also included his own memories of those early days where he recalls how he got into jazz, I found myself in agreement with him when he wrote that being a jazz fan was like catching an obstinate bug that stays with you forever. 
It didn't matter that his obstinate bug was of the vintage New Orleans variety and mine was hatched on 52nd St. the end result was the same - incurable!
Tony Pringle passed away on May 4, aged 81. and will, I'm sure, be sadly missed by all who knew him.
May he Rest In Peace.
Lance.

Alter Ego @ The Black Bull, Blaydon - May 20

Keith Robinson (alto saxophone), Niall Armstrong (tenor saxophone, flute), Dave Hignett (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andy Hawking (keyboards), Tony Abell (bass) & David Francis (drums)
(Review and top right photo by Russell/other photos courtesy of  Roly). 
Following an absence, Tony Abell returned to the fold, reuniting with his Alter Ego bandmates at the Black Bull in Blaydon. It was as though he’d never been away. The sun shone over Blaydon, just as it had done all week. The pub’s beer garden, perched high above the Tyne Valley railway,   came into its own on an evening such as this. Singer-guitarist Gareth Beddard was just wrapping up his set to an appreciative beer garden audience as the Alter Ego boys went about their sound check in the adjacent lounge.

The Bud Plus: Budtet @ The Globe Jazz Bar - May 20

Stu Finden (tenor); Fiona Finden (sop/vocal); Jude Murphy (alto/flute/vocal); Dave Weisser (cornet/vocal); Lin Lee Wong (piano); Andrew 'Drew' Porritt (bass); Eric Stutt (drums).
(Review by Lance).
Budtet's guitarist didn't make the gig. Understandable as Budtet were a last-minute replacement after the all-girl Break Out Brass Band pulled out. So the octet became a septet albeit, like the band they were depping for, still with a strong - if not total - female presence.
The plus factor did remain with the addition of the legendary Dave Weisser playing muted cornet and singing in his inimitable way.
However, the star of the evening was the departing keyboard player, Lin Lee Wong. Ms Wong will be missed by both band and audience. Her final chorus on A Train a timely reminder of what we're losing.
The additional voice that Weisser's cornet brought filled out the front line giving Boplicity an ensemble sound that rivalled the original Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool recording.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

CD Review: Mark Kavuma - Kavuma

Mark Kavuma (trumpet); Mussinghi Brian Edwards, Ruben Fox (saxes); Artie Zaitz (guitar on 3 tks); Reuben James (piano); Conor Chaplin (bass); Kyle Poole (drums) + Michela Martin Lerman (tap dance on 1 track).
(Review by Lance)
"They resemble the finest amalgam of 50's Blue Note and Prestige line-ups" so said guitarist and sound engineer, Zaitz. It was enough for me, I was halfway there before I'd heard a note! I've spent the past couple of months playing Blue Note CDs on the car stereo so I've got plenty to compare with.
In a blindfold test, I'd have been fooled completely, convinced it had been recorded by the late Rudy Van Gelder in his Hackensack, NJ, studio as opposed to on board a ship moored on the Thames in East London!*
Maybe Lee Morgan, Freddy Hubbard or Donald Byrd blowing alongside Benny Golson, Jackie McLean or Stanley Turrentine. I can almost see the Blue Note honchos Wolfe and Lyon nodding their heads approvingly - just as I'm doing as I listen.

Alex Hitchcock Quintet @ the Jazz Café – May 17

Alex Hitchcock (tenor sax); James Copus (trumpet & flugelhorn); Will Barry (piano); Jay Davis (drums); Conor Chaplin (bass)
(Review by Steve H/Photo courtesy of Ken Drew) 
This was the third time in a week that  I had attended a Jazz North East gig. The first two, Deep Cabaret and Malby, Bonnet & Darrifourcq, although completely different in content, were both absolutely superb. Could the last in the triumvirate match the variety and quality of its predecessors? I am very happy to report that it did so and in spades. Although possibly the most conventional of the three, the jazz being of the ‘straight ahead’ type,  the enthusiasm and the calibre of both the music and the performers made it another night to remember.
All five were marvellous, from Hawkins’ very first tenor solo, Gift Horse, onwards.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pianos and how to break ‘em! - Paul Edis Trio @ Ushaw - May 18

Paul Edis (piano); Andy Champion (double bass); Russ Morgan (drums)

(Review by Jerry)
We were lucky to find a parking spot in front of this imposing old building and even luckier to find a seat inside. The Francis Thompson Room was packed and more chairs were being carried in right up to the gig’s start time. It is truly heartening to see so many people on a Friday, forsaking the bars, eateries (barbecues, even, on such a glorious evening!) or comforts of home to listen to live jazz. They arrived expectant, they left buzzing after a piano-themed feast served up by musical master chefs, Edis, Morgan and Champion! The trio, then with Adam Sinclair on drums, had given a similar master-class in Fenham last month (see review by Russell).

Niffi Osiyemi Trio @ Jazz Café - May 18.

Niffi Osiyemi (vocals); Alan Law (piano); Paul Grainger (bass).
(Review by Lance/Photos courtesy of Minnie F & Lance)
Niffi, a final year medical student and a first year (first rate!) jazz singer wowed a packed Jazz Café downstairs bar who roared their approval demanding, and getting, two encores! Not bad going at a venue that, on a Friday night, is sometimes noted for its indifference - not tonight though!
A choice selection of GASbook classics that varied from the tender to the not so tender to the frenetic - sometimes on the same number.
It's still a work in progress, there were a few hiccups but none to mar the overall kicks the listeners were getting and we were nowhere near Route 66.
Don't Get Around Much Anymore and Our Love is Here to Stay, were smooth, swingy songs that little prepared us for the Cry me a River to end all Cry me a Rivers. This wasn't a river, it was the North Sea at its most turbulent. The flood barriers well and truly breached!
By contrast, that well-known warning to philanderers - Makin' Whoopee - returned the room to sanity. It may have been around this point that Niffi dispensed with her stilettos, possibly prompting the tall, angular singer's next song, This Can't be Love which contains the appropriate line My head is not in the skies...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ada Francis: Final Year Undergraduate Recital @ The Boiler House, Newcastle University - May 17

Ada Francis (voice, Celtic harp) accompanied by Ben Richardson (keyboards); Luke Gaul (bass); Harry Still (drums); Alex de Alfaro (guitar); Megan Savage (vocals); Frankie Hay (vocals)
(Review by Russell) 
Her big day had finally arrived. Ada Francis sound checked right up to the last minute. After years of study, the softly spoken Scot surrounded herself with fellow student musicians. A large audience of family and friends materialised minutes before the scheduled five-thirty start. Examiners seated at the back of the room, her time had come…

Newcastle University’s final year undergraduate music recitals were in full swing at several campus locations; King’s Hall, the Recital Room and here at the recently opened Boiler House performance space. Some students drew the short straw – 9:30am can’t be the best time of day to perform, Ada hit lucky with her five-thirty time slot. On a sunny late afternoon, the recently converted boiler house (‘industrial chic’ the look) would forever be a fond memory for the soon-to-graduate Ada Francis.

Dom Pipkin @ The Forum, Darlington - May 17

Dom Pipkin (piano/vocal)
(Review by Lance)
The choices were multiple: Alan Barnes with the Paul Edis Trio in Fenham; the Alex Hitchcock Quintet at the Jazz Café; Dom Pipkin playing solo piano in Darlo and a few others. Tough calls all around. Alan Barnes is my favourite alto player and the Edis Trio are guaranteed to provide the perfect backdrop and much more, whilst the recent release by the Alex Hitchcock Quintet indicated that they are a band on the up and up and one to get in on the ground floor (albeit, the first floor at JC) saying "I was there!"
In the end, I opted for a drive down the A1(M)/A167 to Darlington.
Why? Well, as an indication of how frequent a visitor Alan Barnes is to the area - one of BSH's worthy constituents refers to him as "Barnsey!" (How familiar can you get?!) and I knew there would be plenty more opportunities.
I also knew that BSH would have representation at The Caff so, as I'd been mega impressed by Pipkin and his Ikos when they played Hoochie, I drove my Chevy to the Darlo Levee or, to be more precise, The Forum.
It was a wise decision.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Take the B Train

U.S. jazz legend celebrated at Birmingham conference
(Press release) 
The work of American composer, pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington will be placed under the spotlight at a three-day conference taking place in Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire this month.
Held between Friday 25 and Sunday 27 May, the 25th International Duke Ellington Study Group Conference will celebrate the life, music and legacy of the pivotal figure – often credited as the artist who brought jazz into the mainstream around the world.
Alongside themed panels of speakers, including Dr Harvey G Cohen (King's College London) and Dr Katherine Williams (Plymouth University), the event will showcase four concerts by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Ellington Orchestra, present numerous small group jam sessions and host the AGM of The Duke Ellington Society UK.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Gypsy Jazz concerts and masterclass with Daniel John Martin in June

Parisien-based gypsy jazz violin ace Daniel John Martin will be in the UK to do a few gigs with Mick Shoulder's Swing Manouche in June. DJM's playing a special gig at Preston Jazz Festival on June 8. to coincide with the UK premiere of Etienne Comar's new film biopic 'Django' Then he's coming over to the northeast. 
DJM and Swing Manouche are doing two dates in the area: 
The Vault in Hexham on Saturday, June 9 @ 8pm, £12. 
Claypath Delicatessen in Durham on Sunday, June 10 @ 4pm, £10

In addition to the concert, beforehand, Daniel is holding a jazz violin masterclass - "Keys to Jazz & Improvisation" at Claypath from 11am until 2.30pm.
Price is £40 per person which includes entry to the gig at 4pm.
All standards are welcome.

Malaby, Bonnet & Darrifourcq @ The Bridge Hotel – May 13

Tony Malaby (saxophones); Richard Bonnet (guitar); Sylvain Darrifourcq (drums)
(Review by Steve H/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew) 
With a lot of improvised music, it can sometimes take a while to settle into the groove yet once locked in then the audience can be taken on a unique journey which in my opinion no other genre can surpass.
Sunday night at The Bridge was a case in point. As the trio started their set the sun was streaming in through the upstairs bay window. At first, I was not only blinded by the light but also by the improvisation taking place on the stage. However, once the sun had begun to set, I was able to tune in and thoroughly enjoy the rest of the splendid evening.

Jazz Café Jam Session - May 15

(Review by Lance).
Once again, the Jazz Café jam session lived up to expectations - when does it not? The signs were good from the start. In Edis and Walker, we had two-thirds of Triptych on stage although there was little of that band's contemporary leanings present. Instead, with Grainger as the lynchpin, it was straight down the middle swing even if Falling in Love With Love did start off in waltz-time. You'd be so Nice to Come Home to had set the ball rolling but it was the filling in the sandwich that brought the house down. Take the A Train left the platform slower than is the norm and it looked like we were taking the scenic route until Edis refueled with an amazing left-hand tremolo that seemed to last from Penn Station to Sugar Hill way up in Harlem. His right hand wasn't idle either! Showboating, I know, but nonetheless impressive!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Eddie Henderson & his Quartet @ Pizza Express, Soho – April 26-28

(Comments by Tomasz Furmanek - photos courtesy/copyright, Mochles Simawi).
Picture One:
Soundcheck. Eddie Henderson is very clear about what he wants in music and he always gives it his full attention. He is listening in silence, fully focused yet deeply in thoughts at the same time, somehow. He will not comment on anything until musicians finish playing. And then, he will make his comment, precise and clear, on how they should play the particular tune and in which moment exactly.

Preview: DJAZZ: The Durham City Jazz Festival

(By Russell)
It’s back, June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Durham City’s new jazz festival returns for a second year! Last year’s inaugural DJazz long-weekend festival made an instant impact and the good news is the event will once again take place in many of Durham’s finest, and quirkiest, venues beginning on Friday 1st running through until late Sunday 3rd. A flaming June feast of jazz whets the appetite with the cold weather well and truly behind us.    

No fewer than thirty-three concerts will feature familiar regional names, familiar national names, and, perhaps, a few not so familiar. Zoë Gilby and Andy Champion have the honour of opening DJazz 2018 in the historic surroundings of Durham Castle. The Norman Chapel dates from 1080 or thereabouts making it Durham’s oldest intact surviving building. The Tyneside-based duo will kick-start the weekend at 7:00pm on Friday 1st. As this is the first performance of the three-day festival it could be advisable to make your way up to Palace Green in good time to be sure of a seat.

CD Review: Beverley Beirne - JJWTHF*

Beverley Beirne (vocals); Sam Watts (piano); Flo Moore (bass); Ben Brown (drums/perc.); Rob Hughes (sax/flute) + Jason Miles (B3 - 2 tks); Romero Lumbambo (guitar - 1 tk); Dean Brown (guitar - 1 tk).
(Review by Lance).
Jazz and pop music have always been unlikely bedfellows and rarely compatible. Even such greats as Sinatra and Ella never sounded comfortable when dipping their toes into the more contemporary chart-infested waters. Likewise, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart and, more recently, Bob Dylan were only moderately successful at interpreting GASbook material.
Never the twain shall meet, has always been my reaction despite an increasing tendency amongst the current crop of jazz singers to tackle post-Beatle material. With the possible exception of Postmodern Jukebox, I don't think it ever quite works.
Until now that is!

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Change is Gonna Come

It’s all change tonight on Radio 2. After thirty years presenting his weekly blues programme Paul Jones has called it a day. From tonight (Monday 14), starting at eight o’clock, one hour later than Jones’ old slot, it’s The Cerys Matthews Blues Show. Cerys’ studio guest is Tom Jones who’ll be talking about his love of the blues.

Jools Holland moves from ten o’clock to nine o’clock and the boogie-woogie piano playing host is joined by Elkie Brooks. From Vinegar Joe to her solo career, Elkie will be chatting about her life in the music business. And what’s more, Elkie will be singing a number with Holland’s band.


Meanwhile over on Radio 3 at 11:00pm Jazz Now presents highlights of the Christian McBride Big Band’s exclusive British concert appearance at the recent Cheltenham Jazz Festival – read Steve T’s concert review right here on BSH.  
Russell

Deep Cabaret @ Jazz Café - May 11

Steve Lewis (guitar, voice); Matt Robinson (clarinets); Maja Bugge (cello); Paul Sherwood (hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes); Ben McCabe (percussion, vocals); Jayson Stilwell (overtone vocals)
(Review by Steve H/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew.)
So a band comprising of a bass clarinet, drums, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, guitar, cello and assorted vocal techniques, playing a fusion of world, folk and jazz styles, in front of a sparse audience sounds like it could have been a recipe for disaster but as it turned out this musical kaleidoscope turned out to be a triumphant and highly enjoyable artistic extravaganza. Although the tunes are nearly all original the lyrics are taken from journals, poems, novels and quotes. Most of them, it has to be said, were of a fairly melancholy nature. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

CD Review: Glenn Crytzer Orchestra - Ain't it Grand?

(Review by Lance).
We're back in 'The Swing Era', that gorgeous period twixt Dixieland and bebop when big bands ruled the roost. To draw another parallel, and one closer to home, none of the tracks would sound out of place if performed at Mike Durham's Classic Jazz Party held annually just outside of Whitley Bay. In fact, at least one of the musicians has indeed played there - trombonist Jim Fryer.
Jazz historian Will Friedwald, who wrote the accompanying blurb, prefers to think of them as, "not so much recreations but rather reimaginings".  A pretty fair description, although A String of Pearls doesn't sound that much different from the original Miller version even down to the solos. But then again, who's going to improve on the original Bobby Hackett chorus?

Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The Good, Rick Astley and the Ugly.

(By  Steve T)
Rick Astley was the main reason I was able to persuade long-suffering, real music widow Mrs T to spend four nights at a Jazz Festival in Cheltenham. In the end, we decided two tickets with restricted viewing just wasn't worth sticking around for.
It seems to me the Festival has taken a giant step this year. Ever since I read Bill Bruford's autobiography, in which he described it as one of the leading festivals in the country, I've made the trip when they've had two class acts close together, which they've generally managed, though it was much easier when my in-laws lived just a little further up the M6. This was the first year I've needed to stay longer.
The good was especially good: Nigel Kennedy originally doing Hendrix, but hey, Nigel Kennedy; rising guitar wizard Rob Luft (or risen trumpet star Laura Jurd); Christian McBride (nuff said); man of the moment Kamasi Washington and classic funk from Tower of Power.

Tower of Power @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Town Hall - May 6.

(Review by Steve T)
I've said it before and hopefully, I'll say it a few more times, there's nothing quite like a classic funk band live. I've been lucky and I've seen many of them, including many of the greats, but there's a couple from the frontline I'm probably never going to see.
If I'm honest, Tower of Power are third-rate, which puts them round about the Average White Band and the Blackbyrds, which is still pretty awesome, and puts them ahead of most everything else, at least live.
They're best known for having one of the most awesome horn sections in funk; most of the bands had three or four players, they've always had five.

Joy Ellis Quartet @ The Globe Jazz Bar, Newcastle - May 12.

Joy Ellis (piano/vocals); Chris Montague (guitar); Henrik Jensen (bass); Adam Osmianski (drums).
(Review by Lance).
Q: When is a trio not a trio?
A: When it's a quartet!
The gig was advertised as The Joy Ellis Trio but, after counting twice and double-checking with the lady sharing my table, we both agreed that there were definitely 4 bods making it a quartet. Our curiosity turned to joy (as opposed to Joy) when we realised the ringer was none other than local boy made good, guitarist, Chris Montague.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Kamasi Washington and the Next Step @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Big Top - May 6.

Kamasi Washington (tenor), Ricky Washington (flute, soprano), Ryan Porter (trombone), Patrice Quinn (vocal), Brandon Coleman (keyboards), Miles Mosley (bass), Tony Austin, Robert Miller (drums). 
(Review by Steve T pictured with 'the biggest thing in jazz at the moment'.)
He was introduced as 'the biggest thing in Jazz at the moment' and I for one wouldn't disagree.
Opening piece, his father switched from flute with the other horns to soloing on soprano for a frenzied free-jazz workout, gaining in intensity under keyboardist Brandon Coleman, with both drummers giving it that. Things initially cooled down for the leader's solo, and amongst the innovative nature of his music, it's easy to forget what a fine musician he is, but he gradually brought it back up with some frantic sax playing.

Paul Taylor (solo piano) @ Gosforth Civic Theatre - May 10

(Review by Jerry)
BSH readers are aware that I know nothing about jazz: let me state from the outset that I know less about improvised music. And this was improvised music – “without further ado I’m just going to start playing”. Deprived of my usual reviewer’s navigational aids (pick up on something in the title, latch on to something in the performer’s intro, compare with other pieces in the same genre, mug up something on Google) I approach this journey into uncharted waters with trepidation.  Sticking with the metaphor, advance publicity for The Manchester Jazz Festival where Paul Taylor is appearing in July, refers to his performances as “rhapsodic journeys that lead listeners through twists and turns…,”  and I’d agree with that.

Three Piece Suites? Triptych @ Gosforth Civic Theatre - May 10

Paul Susans (bass); Rob Walker (drums); Paul Edis (piano/clarinet).
(Review by Jerry)
A very agreeable venue: easy to find, free parking, tables set out in jazz-lounge style and a good bar featuring Pennine Pale on draught. That made me feel at home!
We were promised a splendid set of “genre-busting tunes” and Triptych served up just that. Montage – an Edis original, from his solo CD, Just Like Me, – was first up, and very different in trio format. Louder and more dramatic here: it would still work well in a film but a different kind of film! Sketch 69A was penned by bassist, Paul Susans, resident of Hexham and familiar with the A69 after which the piece is named. A sonorous bass intro then a driving, rhythmic tune helped along, at first, by Walker’s brushes then intensified later when he switched to sticks and cut loose.

Omar @ Hoochie Coochie - May 11

Omar (vocal/keys); Lennex Cameron (vocal/keys); Hawi Gondwe (guitar); Darren Abraham (drums); ? (bass guitar); Samia (vocals).
(Review by Lance)
Back in the day, they were Stomping at the Savoy, Jumping at the Woodside or Rockin' thru the Rye. Last night, at Hoochie. they were doing all of those things and more within the square metre of space those fans on the dancefloor had managed to claim territorial rights to.
Hoochie's heavin', nobody's leavin'
Hot-legs and Hot-shots
Hindus and  Heathens
Highfliers and Hoi Polloi 
Here to hear the Real McCoy -
Omar!

Friday, May 11, 2018

CD Review: John Proulx - Say It

John Proulx (piano, vocals, arrangements); Larry Koonse (guitar); Chuck Berghofer (bass); Joe LaBarbera (drums); Bob Sheppard (ten/sop sax); Billy Hulting (perc): Melissa Manchester (guest vocals); Alan Broadbent (string arrangements); Gina Kronstadt (1st violin, leader); Susan Chatman (2nd violin); Rodney Wurtz (viola); Stefanie Fife (cello)
(Review by Ann Alex)
This is a real swinger, a happy, entertaining disc of skilled modern jazz, consisting of lesser-known jazz standards and jazz versions of pop songs, sung in a warm light-toned tenor. Proulx, who hails from Michigan and is a Grammy-winning composer, trained as a pianist and played for 15 years on the West Coast USA. He comes from a musical family and it wasn’t long before he started singing. This is his fourth CD, which he has produced independently. The tracks are:-

CD Review: Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet - Brother Raymond.

Jean Toussaint (tenor); Byron Wallen (trumpet); Dennis Rollins (trombone); (Jason Rebello/Andrew McCormack/ Ashley Henry (piano); Daniel Casimir (bass); Troy Miller/Shane Forbes (drums); Williams Cumberbatch Perez (congas/perc.) + Alec Dankworth (bass x1); Mark Mondesir (drums x 2); Tom Dunnett (trombone x2); Mark Kavuma (trumpet x1); Tom Harrison (alto x1).
(Review by Lance).
Updated hardbop and what a joy! Toussaint blows great tenor as he did, of course, in his younger days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. He still blows in that Messengers' tradition but with a more cutting edge to his playing. He's never slavishly followed Coltrane or Shorter but he hasn't ignored them either!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Darlington Jazz Festival: A Sunday Summary - May 6

With your regular Darlington reviewer indisposed Bebop Spoken Here is indebted to Tony Eales for providing a round-up of Sunday’s events at this year’s Darlington Jazz Festival. TE’s prediction that Hash Bar would be busy proved to be accurate. The mid-morning brunch session began with Giles Strong and Mick Shoulder playing as a guitar duo to a jam-packed room. Later, Shaun Henderson, fresh from occupying the Durham Alumni’s guitar chair in Central Hall the previous evening, linked-up once again with violinist Gordon Dyke.

TE wandered round to Joseph Pease statue to check out Graham Hardy’s Northern Monkey Brass Band and, to his delight, found Sue Ferris depping on tenor for the absent Jamie Toms. This being a Sunday, BSH’s County Durham correspondent made his way to church. The Paul Edis Trio (with sixteen-year-old Dylan Thompson depping on drums – yes, he’s more than good enough!) worked alongside Vocal Collective and festival guest star Alan Barnes.

A man with stamina is TE. The Keys on Skinnergate hosted the festival finale featuring trombonist Dennis Rollins’ Funky Funk Band, and, no surprise, TE was there! Well attended and loud, so said our County Durham man. A weekend of good attendances and fantastic jazz, roll on next year!     
Russell.   

Darlington Jazz Festival: Alan Barnes with Durham Alumni Big Band @ Central Hall - May 5

(Review by Russell)
Darlington Jazz Festival’s annual Saturday evening set-piece occasion in the Victorian splendour of Central Hall always draws a capacity audience and so it was this year with Alan Barnes performing alongside the magnificent Durham Alumni Big Band. The orchestra is worth travelling a distance to hear, add the name A Barnes to the programme and a sellout is assured. This year’s gala occasion came at the end of a clear blue sky day, a scorching sun raising temperatures beyond the seasonal norm pressing Central Hall’s air conditioning unit into action.

CD Review: Fred Farell - Distant Song

Fred Farell (vocals, lyrics); Dave Liebman (sop and ten sax, wooden recorder); Richie Beirach (piano).
(Review by Ann Alex).
In 1971 Fred Farell had his first singing engagement in a jazz club in Lakewood, New Jersey, and he later studied with pianist Richie Beirach in New York, singing in various NYC clubs and also writing lyrics. After experiencing a dramatic conversion to Christianity in 1978, by June 1980 he had decided to leave the jazz community. However in 2013 he looked again at the lyrics that he had written for the musical compositions by Liebman and Beirach, and decided to record the music and lyrics, and this CD is the result of that project.

Jam Session @ The Dun Cow, Jesmond - May 9.

Pete Gilligan (piano); Paul Grainger (bass); Russ Morgan (drums) + Jenny Kanellea, Debra Milne, Lindsay Hannon (vocals); George Sykes (tenor); Lin Lee Wong (piano).
(Review by Lance).
It had been a fair while since I'd heard Pete Gilligan - I don't get to Thailand too often these days - but I'm pleased to say that a diet of Thai cuisine hasn't done his playing any harm. He let it all hang out on the opening Witchcraft casting a spell on the audience with his bravura solo. the spell was only broken by the prolonged applause that said, "Glad to have you back Pete, even if it is only for a month or so." Grainger and Morgan picked it up as if it was only yesterday that they were setting fire to the Jazz Café's jam sessions and, even if no jammers turned up, it looked as though we were in for a good night.
Of course, some jammers did turn up with the first one being Jenny Kanellea who made her debut at the Dun Cow a couple of weeks back.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Kansas Smitty's House Band @ Ronnie Scott's - May 7

Giacomo Smith (alto); Pete Horsfall (trumpet/vocal); Alec Harper (tenor); Adrian Cox (clarinet/vocal); Joe Webb (piano); Dave Archer (guitar); Ferg Ireland (bass); Will Cleasby (drums).
(Review by Sebastian Scotney of LondonJazzNewsKansas Smitty's House Band at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival Photo credit and © John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk)
The Kansas Smittys are on a roll. Their Ronnie Scott’s date on Monday came after no fewer than four shows at Cheltenham. “We played a lot, we didn’t sleep a lot,” explained leader Giacomo Smith - and before long they’ll be off to play at a festival in Nantes in France.
Into my mind came a distant memory. I once reviewed a date of a small band led by Giacomo Smith at Boisdale Canary Wharf in April 2013, LINK

There I was five years ago in the role of “the-only-audience-member-who-sort-of-knows-when-to-applaud-because-this-music-needs-some-kind-of--response-dammit”, dutifully checking out the end just about every solo and every number. That was then, this is now. That was before the “Kansas Smitty’s” name had even been dreamt up, before their well-deserved success started to take wing. The formula, the bar which is their home and all that has worked just brilliantly. Audiences love this band. Everybody loves this band.

Rob Luft @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The Daffodil, May 4.

Rob Luft (guitar), Joe Wright (sax), Joe Webb (keyboards), Tom McCredie (bass), Mark Michelle (drums).
(Review by Steve T)
This was one of those posh bashes like what Zoe Gilby and Andy Champion played last year or the year before.
Pink sparkling wine on arrival, a tomato cut up with a few salady bits chucked on for starter, sea bass or - if you play the I don't like fish card - chicken in a delectable sauce that Mrs T let me taste, and a very lemony dessert. At £65 a head, do the maths.
A table shared with three other couples could have been tricky but proved to be the best table in the place, so all credit to them including, would you believe, a Chester le Street lad and fellow Old Johnstonian.

Christian McBride Big Band @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Town Hall – May 6.

(Review by Steve T)
I had their album Bringin’ It as one of my picks of last year; an unlikely choice from a self-confessed big band philistine, but I saw McBride with his trio in November and if anybody can make a big band cool it's him. 
The start had a stand-in on bass allowing a big introduction for the leader; apparently common-place in such situations. The band were all in white shirts, perhaps reflecting the weather outside, but McBride remained in a suit throughout.
Trumpet solo followed by Marcus Strickland on tenor, backed by the rest of the horns, followed by trombone, the audience now clapping along, before muted trumpets provided the backing with a short bass burst finishing the piece.

Body and Soul @ Dormans Jazz Club Middlesbrough - May 3

Richie Emmerson (tenor sax) Kevin Eland (trumpet) Rick Laughlin (keys & synthesizer) Keith Peberdy (bass) and Stuie Ellerton (drums).
The Quintet, comprising of local musicians,  maintained the high standards of guest bands at Dormans Jazz Club with an impressive performance, starting the evening with Wes Montgomery's Road Song followed by Good Bait and a fine version of a favourite one of mine Freddie Hubbard's Up Jumped Spring. The ballad, Young and Foolish, featured  Kevin showing his great skill on flugelhorn. After playing Speak Low bebop style, the first half was finished off with a very moving Chuck Mangione number Hill Where The Lord Hides with great solos from all of the band. Cantaloupe Island started the second half off in style and then a fast John Coltrane blues Mr.PC.

Darlington Jazz Festival: Jeff Barnhart & John Hallam @ St Augustine’s Parish Centre - May 5

Jeff Barnhart (piano, vocals); John Hallam (tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinet); Keith Stephen (guitar, banjo); Bruce Rollo (double bass, vocals)
(Review by Russell)
Darlington New Orleans Jazz club has been presenting the best in jazz – from ragtime to swing, all things New Orleans to Dixieland, hot dance music and a nod to the ‘revivalists’ – for more than two decades. Darlington Jazz Festival’s decision to change its established late April slot in the calendar to the first week in May meant that the New Orleans’ session could be incorporated into the festival with the prospect of benefitting from the wider publicity generated by a high profile, five-day event.

ECM Invasion

Just when this chap [me!] felt he had every CD in the world awaiting review along comes a package with, not 1, not 2, but 6 ECM releases! Like the fabled camel and the straw this was 6 CDs too many so, rather than just ignore such a prestigious label as ECM, I've linked them up to source so readers can read about them, listen to samples and, maybe, part with their euros.
Here are the links:
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin - Awase. ECM 2603.
Ketil Bjornstad - A Suite of Poems. ECM 2440.
Kristjan Randalu - Absence. ECM 2586.
Marc Sinan - White. ECM 2558.
Elina Duni - Partir. ECM 2587.
Steve Tibbetts - Life Of. ECM 2599.
Lance

Nigel Kennedy @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Town Hall, May 3.

(Review by Steve T)
I saw Nigel Kennedy at Scarborough a few years back and he did a set of Django - more or less - and a set of Hendrix - more or less. The former was great but the latter was immense.
I generally go to Cheltenham if there are two acts close together in the schedule. The early announcements met that, but the addition of Nigel Kennedy doing Hendrix meant doing more or less the whole festival for the first time ever became a Thing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Darlington Jazz Festival: Jazz Comes to the Quakerhouse - May 5

(Review by Russell)
Saturday afternoon at the Quakerhouse pub is a well-established session at the Darlington Jazz Festival. The CAMRA award-winning hostelry is home to Darlington Jazz Club’s bi-monthly gigs making it a home from home for organisers and regulars alike, the one difference being that the festival session takes place in the downstairs bar rather than in the upstairs room. The format is simple; squeeze in three sets (‘squeeze’ being the operative word) in the compact space at one end of the bar, plug in and play.

Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80 @ Sage Gateshead May 2.

(Review by Steve T)
Just like them [Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80] I stopped off for this on my way from London to Cheltenham -   Don't know why people don't turn up for Afrobeat gigs, because those who do seem to unanimously love them. Perhaps it's the politics or perceived misogyny, but even the more conservative Cheltenham audience appeared to have loved it.
For young, hip types, Afrobeat is part of their kitbag, like reggae for a previous generation, but mixing indigenous music with Black American Funk, rather than white, British guitar pop.  
The music is rhythmic, funky, jazzy, infectious, vibrant, hot, powerful, sexy, colourful, edgy and downright irresistible.
Despite poor ticket sales, the Sage wisely left the seats out and by the time everyone came down from Level 2, and the ever-dependable hip, young, student, alternative types turned up, there wasn't a still butt in the place.

Darlington Jazz Festival: Matt Roberts Sextet @ Voodoo Café - May 4

Matt Roberts (trumpet); Riley Stone-Lonergan (tenor saxophone); George Grant (alto saxophone); Chris Eldred (piano); Daisy George (double bass); Sam Gardner (drums)
(Review by Russell) 
Every year a handful of gigs are eagerly anticipated by your reviewer – Vasilis Xenopoulos playing the Traveller’s Rest in Darlington and Blaydon’s Black Bull, the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band’s sell out  ‘big name’ concerts, and, during the Darlington Jazz Festival, the returning trumpeter Matt Roberts playing a hometown gig above the Voodoo Café on Skinnergate. Friday evening’s 'Jazz After Dark' concert featured Roberts’ brilliant, youthful sextet playing the music of Kenny Dorham.

This year’s edition of Matt Roberts’ band wrought no fewer than four changes in personnel. The in-demand Leo Richardson couldn’t make it as his star is in the ascendant following the release of his album The Chase and his busy itinerary simply couldn’t accommodate Darlington. Roberts thought about it for a second before giving fellow Leeds College of Music graduate Riley Stone-Lonergan a call. A good choice, RSL was in fine form when heard recently in Durham. Pianist Chris Eldred was another obvious first call. With a cv including gigs with John Dankworth, Jean Toussaint and Bobby Wellins, appearances at Ronnie’s, the Bull’s Head and Soho’s Pizza Express, and a long tenure as pianist with NYJO, Eldred would surely cut it. 

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Submissions for review

Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to them all other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.
Lance

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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