Total Pageviews

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).

Archive

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 Tuesday May 21

Afternoon

Jazz

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Kamasi Washington - Sage Gateshead, St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR. Tel: 0191 443 4461. 7:30pm. £30.00.

River City Jazzmen w. Maureen Hall - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NN. Tel: 01670 813983. 8:00pm. £5 (raffle inc.) Bob Wade, Gordon Solomon, Keith Stephen, Phil Rutherford, Tommy Graham.

Lindsay Hannon Band - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB.Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (donations).

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

Blog Archive

Subscribe!