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Bebop Spoken There

John Medeski: "Like Mingus or Ellington, he [John Zorn] pulls people out of their zones and encourages them to do more than they would do on their own." - (DownBeat, December 2018).

Today Tuesday November 20

Afternoon

Classic Swing - The Ship, Front St., Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 1pm. Free.

Evening

?????

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

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Soft Machine @ Sage Gateshead - Nov. 6

John Etheridge (guitar); Theo Travis (tenor/soprano/flutes/keys & things); Roy Babbington (bass guitar); John Marshall (drums).
(Review by Lance/photos courtesy of Russell).
This wasn't Sage Gateshead. When we sashayed through those swing doors we were transported, Doctor Who-like, into a bygone era (albeit not price-wise). In Sage One they were back in the Golden Sixties. Were they golden? I don't remember.

For those that did remember they had P.J. Proby, The Fortunes, The Searchers and several other of those 'whatever became of' acts who's sounds first hit the airwaves from somewhere offshore. Those pirates of the high seas who broadcast from outside of the three-mile limit didn't have a Blackbeard although they did have a Blackburn (Tony) helping to plunder the pockets of the record buying public.


However, Team Bebop was above all of this, we were in the relative intimacy of Stage Two. We'd moved up a decade for the jazz-rock supergroup - Soft Machine.
Despite having Soft in the name, it wasn't. After the first few opening bars I was prepared to up and off but, it gradually took form, and I too had stepped back in time remembering hearing bands like Mike Westbrook, Graham Collier, Nucleus, Colosseum, etc.  all of whom must surely have laid their imprint on this band - or was it vice versa?

Etheridge, I'd heard many times. With Grappelli at Sunderland Empire; a lunchtime solo gig at a café in the Royal Albert Hall; gigs at the Corner House and yet, I never did get to hear him with Soft Machine or, if I did, I must have forgotten.

So tonight was, in a sense, catch-up time and it wasn't long before, after my initial shock, I was in the fan club (metaphorically speaking). Etheridge remains a master of his craft. Genres mean nothing, he just lays it down. Clapton, Hendrix, McLaughlin, Metheny, you name it. A wag in the audience, after one of the most blistering guitar solos ever, shouted "That was on a par with McLaughlin", before qualifying it with. "I didn't say better I said on a par with!"
Perhaps Steve T had given him a menacing glance.

Babbington and Marshall I'd heard before, possibly with John Surman in the 1980s but Travis was a new experience and a very pleasant one too on soprano, tenor and flute. I was less enamoured of his electronic tinkering although, in truth, it didn't hurt that much.

As a band, the sound comes across as tight, conveying the impression of being a bigger group. Tender moments were at a minimum and when they were they quickly grew into something bolder, even menacing and explosive. Music of the spheres that wasn't spherical often turning into, to quote Etheridge's own description, 'a good old rave-up' which it truly was.
A great night with a great band that didn't need to split their trousers*
Lance.
*Reference to P.J. Proby's claim to fame!

3 comments :

Phil D said...

Not the original band of course, but featuring 2nd generation players from the mid 70s, playing original and some Mike Ratledge tunes including 'Out-Bloody-Rageous'.

Wasn't sure what to expect, but thought that they balanced the explosive stuff pretty well with flute led tunes.

Just great to hear some fusion jazz rock again - very enjoyable.




Steve T said...

Since Etheridge also leads the Zappatistas, it't worth noting that it's oft said the whole Canterbury Progressive Rock scene (of whom the Softs were one of two leading bands) came from, not just Zappa, but specifically the Uncle Meat album, though I don't know how this applies to Caravan (the other).

Steve T said...

Looking through the Rocking the Classics book, I came across something I either didn't know or had forgotten. The guitarist immediately before and after Etheridge's seventies stint was Allan Holdsworth, one of a tiny number of guitarists ( Django, Hendrix, Paco Delucia, Al DiMeola) some actually do think as good or better than McLaughlin

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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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