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Bebop Spoken There

Branford Marsalis: "You talk to the old guys about it [52nd St.], and they say the music part was great. Every other aspect of it [pay, hours, conditions] sucked" - (DownBeat, May 2019).

Archive

Today Sunday April 21

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux Carré Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. 12 noon. Free.

Blues

Beefy La Slap - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 3:00pm. Free.

Alex Fawcett Band - Tyne Bar, Maling St., Newcastle NE6 1LP. Tel: 0191 265 2550. 4:00pm. Free

Evening

Jazz

East Coast Jazz - Exchange, Howard Street, North Shields NE30 1SE. Tel: 0191 258 4111. 6:00pm. Free. Monthly jam session.

Swing Manouche - Black Bull, Bridge St., Blaydon NE21 4JJ. Tel: 0191 414 2846. 7:30pm. £7.00. Blaydon Jazz Club. Note new, regular start time.

Blues

Sour Mash Trio - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9:00pm. Free.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Preview: 16th Great North Big Band Jazz Festival March 1-3

(Review by Russell)

Last year's Great North Big Band Jazz Festival was cancelled at the last minute due to snow-bound roads leading to and from Chester le Street. As several bands were facing lengthy journeys in potentially dangerous driving conditions festival director Bill Watson reluctantly took the decision to call the whole thing off. No such concerns this year - just look at the tropical weather!

Beginning at eight o'clock on Friday (March 1) with a concert performance by Musicians Unlimited and the Festival Band, the GNBBJF continues throughout the weekend - 11:00am starts Saturday and Sunday! - with the curtain falling early evening on Sunday. No fewer than thirty-two bands will be in competition mode across the weekend vying for a coveted prize. 

Saturday's non-stop action features senior bands (including several first-rate university outfits) with Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra kicking things off. NUJO, as the band is known, is the only band to have competed at every edition of the GNBBJF. This year's NUJO line-up promises to set a high standard. Band president Tom McDonald and the ebullient sax man Matt Green have been busy knocking the sections into shape with the likes of trumpeter Tom Alcorn and guitarist James Cuxson set to impress the adjudicators. 


Leeds usually sends a battalion of bands. Not content with one big band, it's an away day for three or four of them. Other Yorkshire-based bands will make the trip, Lancashire is sure to be represented (the Managers Big Band among the ante-post favourites), previous winners Durham University, of course, Dave Hignett's Tyne Valley Big Band will be there (it could be a thirty-strong ensemble!) and, if previous years are anything to go by, there will be a few raiders from the Deep South.

Sunday, eleven o'clock it's schools and youth bands. Now then, if you don't shed a tear as a 3'6" tall youngster blows a two-bar solo to rapturous applause you ain't human! Bands from County Durham and the wider region will be joined by others from much further afield (Shropshire has been known to send a decent band or two). It all adds up to a fantastic weekend of big band jazz. 

The Great North Big Band Jazz Festival takes place at Park View Community Centre on Church Chare in Chester le Street DH3 3PZ. The venue is just off Front Street, take the side street between the PDSDA charity shop and Bon Bons Sweets and Shakes and the entrance is directly in front of you. Frequent buses from and to Durham and Tyneside pick-up and set-down on Front Street. Chester le Street railway station is on the East Coast mainline. The venue is five minutes' walk down the hill from the station.    
    
A weekend ticket (available on the door) costs £15, day tickets are available at £12, and under 16s get in for a fiver. The Great North Big Band Jazz Festival is one of the outstanding events in the calendar. If you haven't been to the GNBBJF before, make this the year, you won't regret it!  
Russell.    

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