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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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Book Review: Maxine Gordon - Sophisticated Giant.

There have been innumerable books written about our music (I've got three shelves full and that is but the tip of the iceberg) so, when I say that this is essential reading for anyone interested in modern jazz from the late thirties on, you'd better believe it!

More than a biography and not quite an autobiography, Maxine, Gordon's widow from his last marriage and mother of trumpet player Woody Shaw's son*, manages to successfully incorporate the great saxophonist's own handwritten memories of his life along with her own reminiscences and those of his contemporaries. Not just musicians such as Jimmy Heath and Sonny Rollins but also Alfred Lyons and Francis Wolfe who recorded the wonderful Blue Note albums by Dexter that set the standard for pre-Coltrane tenor playing.

Dexter recalls his early days with the big bands of Hamp and Satchmo. Central Avenue, and the tenor battles with Wardell Gray. His sojourn in prison after being busted. Information on his sparsely documented life in Copenhagen and his Oscar nomination for his role in the film 'Round Midnight. These are taken from handwritten notes the great man wrote and were collated into the author's narrative along with her own memories.

His drug addiction is neither dramatised, glamourised or glossed over. The author did her own research (Dexter refused to write in any detail about what he called his 'lost decade' - the 1950s) and tells it as she saw it. The love between them is never allowed to surface but is ever-present. I think readers would have liked a little more depth to their relationship.

I didn't want the book to end, I didn't want Dexter to die and I give thanks that I saw him in concert at Newcastle in the early 1980s (?) whilst wishing that I'd been able to go backstage and meet him even if it was just to shake hands or say hello and maybe tell him that, over the years, I've bought so many of his albums and loved them all.

Dexter and Wardell were, and still are, my all-time tenor heroes. From the early Savoy sessions, via the Blue Notes, to the most recently released Fried Bananas. I wouldn't be without any one of them. This book will sit proudly on my shelves - but it won't be gathering dust...

The final paragraph: As Dexter had insisted so often, "My life has a happy ending" had the tears forming at the back of my eyes.
Thank you Maxine.
Lance.

PS: It's the time of year when we drop hints to avoid embarrassing gestures of Christmas bonhomie - like, I've got plenty of socks, shirts and plonk - from well-meaning friends. So, tell your own true love that, this year, you don't want any more partridges in a pear tree, lords a-leaping or even five golden rings. No, what you want for Christmas this year is (apart from him/her) a Sophisticated Giant.

*Maxine mentions, almost casually, that she was in a relationship with Woody Shaw yet there is no mention as to how that finished and the Dexter romance began and led to their marriage. It must have been amicable as her son, Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III, provides a loving afterward to the book.

Maxine Gordon: A Sophisticated Giant - The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon. 2018, The University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-28064-9.

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