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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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Emma Fisk’s Hot Club du Nord @ the Gala Theatre - April 5

Emma Fisk (Violin); James Birkett, Dave Harris (guitars); Bruce Rollo (double bass).
(Review by Brian Ebbatson/PHOTOS courtesy of Malcolm Sinclair)

Another full house for the Spring Gala Lunchtime Jazz Series, this one sold out back in January, such is the reputation that goes before Emma Fisk’s Hot Club du Nord. There were many first timers today, to the disappointment of regulars unable to get tickets. Across the river from the Studio the model trains slipped in, out and onwards from Durham station, while the colours of the trees down the Wear valley – the first greens of spring, the mauves, maroons and browns of winter – were resplendent in the spring sunshine. A clear blue sky with barely a cloud – that is until the encore.

The Reinhardt/Grappelli repertoire through from the 30s to the 50s (and then on with Grappelli’s various collaborations and groups) is a rich seam from which seasoned musicians such as these can fashion inspired new interpretations, so Hot Club du Nord’s sets, while featuring some of their recorded work, always feature something new for regular followers and much to enthuse newcomers to their music.
HCdN see themselves as paying homage to Reinhardt and Grappelli, so the set consists of Hot Club de France favourites rather than introducing their own compositions in the Hot Club style. Nothing wrong with that, especially as Emma takes pride in detailed introductions to each number, explaining its origin, when recorded and often some idiosyncratic story behind it.


The set opened upbeat with Fats Waller’s 1929 Honeysuckle Rose, a track featured on the CD Hot Club du Nord. James shared the lead with Emma on this first number, the audience seeming keen to show appreciation in anticipation, enthusiastically applauding every solo.  Johnny Green’s 1930 Body and Soul “written for Gertrude Lawrence, the first British star to appear on Broadway” (Emma) slowed things down for the second number, featuring all band members – an exquisite rendition.
Next came the first Django number, Swing 42, taking us forward to Django in wartime Occupied Paris, recorded (again Emma told us) with Hubert Rostaing on clarinet, Stéphane having stayed in London at outbreak of hostilities. Chugging Hot Club guitars, a lengthy solo from David, capturing Django’s percussive guitar tones, Emma soaring from deep notes to the highest octaves on her violin, this was getting very close to classic Hot Club de France.
Back to the 20’s for I Found a New Baby, first recorded by Clarence Williams in 1926, Bruce’s ‘slapping’ bass both in a featured solo and behind his fellow band members, capturing the feel of the earlier decade. Then the divine mid-‘30s Reinhardt – Grappelli composition Sweet Chorus, with Dave again taking two extended solos. Back to Fats Waller (and the ‘20s) for the ever popular Ain’t Misbehavin’, in James’ arrangement; then two ‘classic’ 1937 compositions from the two masters, Minor Swing and Daphne.
Over 100 people in the Gala Studio and music like this, so Emma cooled down the atmosphere with a magical rendering of  A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, a favourite of Stéphane’s enforced sojourn in wartime London (also on the HCdN CD). Then - as is their wont - the quartet closed the set with the 1925 jazz-age favourite Sweet Georgia Brown, another feature for Bruce’s bass, the band capturing the twenties feel once more.
The lengthy applause called for an encore, and although time was up, the audience called for Nuages, written by Django after being captured on the Swiss border and forcibly returned to Paris after his second attempt to escape the Occupation. “This graceful and eloquent melody”, as Django’s biographer wrote, “evoked the woes of the war that weighed on people's souls—and then transcended it all”. Transcendence, at least for a short time, for the audience, then back outside to the (much lesser) woes of our current reality, and a clear blue spring sky.
Brian E
PHOTOS

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