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Bebop Spoken There

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Wednesday January 27

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYRIAKI PANTELIDOU & RAY CARLESS

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12,399 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 118 of them this year alone and, so far, 118 this month (Jan. 25).

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Funny Valentine - The Story of Chet Baker told by Mike Maran. Darlington Arts Centre.

Mike Maran (narrator), Colin Steele (tpt), Robert Pettigrew (pno).
If you've ever been drawn to the beauty of Chet Baker's music this is a must see production - a gem albeit, like the (anti) hero, a flawed gem.
On trumpet, Colin Steele captures the sound of Chet Baker to the nth degree. Every nuance, every phrase, could have emulated from the enigmatic icon himself. On piano, Robert Pettigrew, a name new to me, also displays a feel for the idiom even though he has no publicised jazz form.
Music apart, it's a one man show, written, performed and narrated by Mike Maran. In effect it is Baker's addiction as seen through the eyes of the drug itself. To quote a line from the play "...a hero and a heroin..."
That the script manages to 'inject' humour - e.g. "There's A Small Hotel" played in jail - without minimising the tragedy says much for Mike Maran. Jazz buffs may well feel they've heard it all before, and of course we have, so what? It's still compelling theatre and Colin Steele is pretty damn close to the real deal.
So where? I hear you ask, is this particular gem's flaw?
It may be a personal thing but, initially, Mike Maran's Scottish accent struck me as a wee bit incongruous given the subject matter. In fairness, as the narrative progressed the accent became less of a problem so maybe I'm nitpicking.
Judge for yourself - it's on at Alnwick April 21.
Lance.
PS: Because I had the drive from Darlo ahead of me I opted out of the question and answer session at the end which I think would have added to the experience. Maybe I'll catch it when/if it is done in Newcastle. A natural for Live Theatre.

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