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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).

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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.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Giles Strong Trio @ Gala Theatre, Durham, - March 1

(Review & trio photo courtesy of Brian Ebbatson. Individual photos courtesy of Malcolm Sinclair).

For the third concert of the 2019 Lunchtime Jazz series, the capacity audience at the Durham Gala was to be enthralled by a debut performance of the Giles Strong Trio, featuring the engaging and inventive playing of three musicians making their first outing together. Over the past 2 years (or more?) Giles and Roly have established a deserved reputation as a guitar duo, but this was to be their first opportunity to show their wares alongside the accomplished bass of Ian Paterson.

The setlist too was a new departure. “This was all new material for all of us,” said Roly, “so this was its first outing. Giles did most of the hard work on the arrangements, but I tried to take some of the burden with a couple of pieces”. “The bass too is important,” he went on, “it provides much more than just rhythm and harmony, it is the anchor that holds the whole performance together”.



This was clear from the first number, Gene de Paul’s I’ll Remember April, opening with a distinctive bass riff from Ian, leading Roly into the melody and an extended solo (‘That’s Jim Hall’, I wrote down immediately.) The bass then stood out while the two guitars took on the tune, each responding to and supporting each other’s solos. Then Giles came back to the theme and that riff to bring back Ian for the close.

This set the pattern for the arrangements to come. To my (non-musician) ear, Giles’ had sought to pare down the melodies to their essence, often carried by the bass, but used by all instruments to build their solos. Sometimes the interplay was between the two guitarists, sometimes between the bass and one of them, at others between all three. At different times each player led, followed, responded, soloed, stood out, then together they picked up the theme again and took the piece to its close.

Supported by Roly’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the jazz canon, Giles introduced each number, acknowledging the composers / lyricists, giving some of the background (the film, the musical, the first or most famous artist to feature it, the 40’s ‘back to nature living’ Hollywood experiment behind Eder Ahbez’s Nature Boy etc.).  

Then the music. Nature Boy, Cole Porter’s Love for Sale, Giles’ own Everything \was Beautiful,  Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach’s Yesterdays, Johnny Green’s Body and Soul, Fragos/Baker/Gasparre’s I Hear a Rhapsody, they were all vehicles for skilled arrangements, lyrical exposition, intense interplay and inspired improvisation, leaving the audience fully engaged, enthralled and warmly appreciative. There were two more compositions by the guitarists, Roly Veitch’s WT Blues, and Giles’ Billie’s Blues, both executed with the same freshness and invention as the standards and fully able to stand alongside them. (WT (Blues) stands for ‘Whole Tone’ as in whole tone scale, described by Giles as “made up of six notes with each note being a tone apart. It can sound quite restless because it doesn’t have a clear tonal centre, as compared to, for example, a major scale”. So enlightenment as well as musical inspiration for the audience!)
 
Billie’s Blues was to be the closer, but the audience wanted more, so the trio obliged with a full-length Alone Together (by Arthur Schwarz and Howard Dietz for the 1932 Broadway musical Flying Colours). For me the only disappointment was that Roly didn’t break into song at any point, but that in no way detracts from the quality or enjoyment of an excellent performance way to spend an early spring lunchtime.

Brian

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