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Bebop Spoken There

George Shearing: "Speaking about Johann Sebastian Bach I think he'd be a real jazzer if he were alive today. I mean any man who has two wives, twenty kids, gets kicked out of the church for being too harmonically radical and drinks beer can't be all wrong can he?" - (Crescendo March 1984.)

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Today Thursday December 12

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 12:00pm. Free.

Note earlier time for this week only!

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Evening

Jazz

Hot Club du Nord - Lubetkin Theatre, East Durham College, Willerby Drive, Peterlee SR8 2RN. Tel: 0191 518 2000. 7:00pm. £10.00. (£5.00. under 18s). 'Jazz at the Lubetkin'.

Gala Big Band - Gala Theatre & Cinema, Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA. Tel: 03000 266 600. 7:30pm. £10.00. (£8.00. concs.). ‘Gala Big Band Does Christmas’.

Durham University Big Band - Dunelm House, New Elvet, Durham DH1 3AN. Tel: 0191 334 1777. Free. 7:30pm. ‘Jazzy Christmas’.

Indigo Jazz Voices - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £5.00. (£2.00. student).

Maine Street Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Hollywell Lane, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5NJ. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:30pm. Free.

Tees Hot Club w. Gus Smith (vocals); Dave Stansfield (tenor sax); Ted Pearce (keys) - Dorman’s Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 8:30pm. Free.

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm. £2.50.

Blues/Soul/Funk/Etc.

?????

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

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Remembering Nigel Stanger

"Nigel Stanger is one of the finest musicians I ever worked with. He was one of my teachers. When he played, he played with joy and great passion. I shan't forget the lessons he taught me and I shan't forget him" - Sting's eulogy to Nigel Stanger.
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Today, March 15, 2009, marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of Nigel Stanger--arguably the finest jazz altoman from these parts. He also blew good tenor and, on occasion, both saxes together à la Roland Kirk.
His pedigree was impressive - a host of name blues bands; John Mayall, Alexis Korner, Georgie Fame, The Animals and in later years, backing Jimmy Witherspoon, The East Side Torpedoes and The Crosbys.
However, it was the Sunday lunchtime sessions back in the 1970's with the Newcastle Big Band - a sometimes unwieldy organisation that, nevertheless, drew crowds to the the University Theatre of a magnitude never seen before or since - that I remember him best.
As well as blowing lead alto, Nigel was Bird personified in his solos as he built upon Charlie Parker's historic base to forge a voice of his own. I felt very privileged to sit in the same sax section.
Where Nigel really came into his own and I think Germaine Stanger would probably agree was in San Sebastion. Transported away from the familiarity of Tyneside to the well known Spanish Jazz Festival, his playing seemed to lose whatever imaginary inhibitions it may have had and he really flew in the balmy Spanish night air. Nothing was incapable of being expressed as he created with fiery, white-hot, unbridled passion through the medium of his Selmer and, later, Yamaha horns.
He played good jazz piano too. A very talented guy who will always be sadly missed.
In passing, I ought to mention that Nigel also had some considerable architectural skills but that is another story ...
Lance

16 comments :

Roly said...

Yes - fond memories of those marvellous Sunday lunch big band sessions at the Ncle Uni Playhouse foyer. It used to be heaving - packed out. Sting on bass, Nigel, another fine alto player (Cormack Loame was it?), animated Andy Hudson at piano and conducting things. John Hedley playing bursts of Nola. Plus a plethora of local players.
Heady days. Am I getting nostalgic in my old age? I fear so.
Roly

AndyHud said...

It's hard to believe that the Big Band last roared regularly in Yes! the 70's.

Nigel was not just the powerful and innovative player that Lance describes and honours, but was much more of a renaissance man.
A good deal of the arrangements and a not insignificant part of the humour which was the hallmark of those Sundays emanated from Nigel's stage whispered asides.
I remember him as a wit with a rather edgy and sometimes wicked humour... Or on other occasions a source of wordy and byzantine tales always punctures by his huge giggle at the end.

He is much missed and may he rest in peace..though I expect it will be quite noisy and a good deal funnier than we all perceive peace to be.
Andy

Gordon Solomon said...

So many emotions from one saxophone! Nigel could conjure up all of them in one solo. He could effortlessly change from phrases which left you feeling really sad to red hot exciting passages that had your hair standing up. I've never heard anyone else do that.

russell said...

Hi Lance

I remember on a Sunday lunchtime in the bar of the University Theatre hearing Nigel Stanger play Hammond organ every bit as well as he played alto.It must have been a Last Exit session with Nigel sitting in.

A great talent.

Roly mentions another alto player.Was it Cormac Loane ? I think he went to London.What ever happened to him ?

Russell

Hil said...

Very many happy memories of the Sunday lunch time big band sessions.
I can remember my oldest son aged then about 3 rendered speechless at the volume of sound. His Dad contributing to the volume..;o)

RIP Nigel.

Hilary Gilby.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lance,

Apart from Nigel playing with the Newcastle Big Band, and blowing up a storm, I do remember hearing recordings of a session at the Gosforth Hotel (Pub) On Gosforth High Street, that had my father, Nigel, Grahame Shephard (Clarinet & Tenor) & Don Eddy on drums, can not remember who the bass or piano was, but these live recordings sounded great, what a shame they have disappeared, another bit of local jazz history gone...maybe someone can remember these sessions...I was only 17 when I was a member of the Newcastle Big Band, and remember fondly those sessions at the University Playhouse, wonderful musicians, wonderful days, so lucky to have been a part of it.

Colin Aitchison (Hong Kong).

Roly said...

Mentioning The Gosforth Hotel - I remember some sessions there - a quintet with Cormack Loane alto, a fine trumpeter plus R/Secn. It was a quintet playing all the bebop heads - Anthropology, Confirmation, Donna Lee etc.
Anyone remember these and who the others were?
Roly

Lance said...

Trumpet player was Peter Volpe now resident in France. He's on the big band reunion photo next to Cormac - in those days he had more hair - didn't we all?
Pete has promised to add to these comments but his 'MySpace' doesn't seem to like us!
He's playing really well these days going by some tracks on 'MySpace' - I'll try adding them again.

James Caird said...

I first met Nigel when he joined my year in the School of Architecture. He was soon an augmentation of the Dave Brown Quartet, in which I played the bass, to Quintet (or even sextet when he blew alto and tenor at the same time). He gave the band a completely new dimension. We drove all the way to San Sebastian in 1969 with Andy Hudson as roadie. Six of us plus luggage, drums, bass and saxes in 2 cars... and the rest is history.

Lance said...

Thanks James also for bringing to mind Dave Brown who was with us in San Sebastian with the Newcastle Big Band.
I remember him saying "Anyone got the latest Test Score?"
Nigel replied, "We're in Spain, they don't play cricket."
Dave replied with, "Ok - anyone got the Bull Results"!

Steve Andrews said...

I first met Nigel around 1974 - I was about 21 and full of myself, and was astonished when I heard Nigel show HOW the alto could be played. A defining moment in a way for me - since then I've tended to stick to tenor and only use the alto for big band and dance work, or "pretty" playing! He was always kind and supportive, as was Germaine who I was lucky enough to play alongside several times (I remember her singing "But Not For Me" wonderfully).
In 1978 my then band, The Savannah Syncopators, somehow managed to blag a £200 grant from Northern Arts to transcribe Duke Ellington's first extended work, Creole Rhapsody. My good friend Kevin Elliott did the hard work writing it out from the record, and we presented it at a concert in Newcastle Students union (I think). The piece has a section featuring Johnny Hodges, playing some superfast stuff (Yes, at that time he could!!!), and none of our three saxes, including me, could play it. So I thought of the most agile alto player I knew and rang Nigel, more in hope than expectation, because it was hardly his sort of thing. To my delight, he happily agreed to play. The band rehearsed it for weeks, but I could never get Nigel to rehearsal because he was so much in demand, until just before the gig. He obviously hadn't looked at the music and made a right "BBC Dance Orchestra" (Henry Halls) of the solo part, so I was worried to say the least. I needn't have concerned myself, on the night he blew it effortlessly as though he'd played it for years. A nice man, and a great musician. Somewhere I've got a very rough tape of that concert, by the way.

Nico M said...

I met Nigel at Oxford University in 1963, just after he had made the decision to leave a struggling unknown band "The Animals" and take up his Oxford place. Within a year the band was at No 1 & Nigel & I watched The Animals front for Chuck Berry at the Hammersmith Odeon. It must have been bitter-sweet for him.

I looked for him on-line this morning because yesterday I met with a lady who I had not seen since 1964 & she reminded me of a gig we went to together.

It was at the Whisky A Go Go in London, John Mayalls' Blues Breakers in terrific form, Long John Baldry guesting, Nigel on saxes & a very young Eric Clapton on guitars. Nigel blew a terrific two saxes at once (alto/tenor) solo a la Rahaasan Roland Kirk. At 3am seventy uniformed Mr Plod piled in and the floor suddenly was awash with small packets (in those days 99% weed & hash). Most exciting and a splendid end to a memorable gig. I am very sad to hear Nigel has died RIP.

Paul said...

Wow, all these comments on Sunday sessions at N/c Uni Theater really take me back, though the great music has lived on in my head ever since. I was the one on the door collecting the cash (and hiding it from any passing coppers). What a line up Andy had in that band, Sting, John Hedley, Gerry Richardson, Ronnie Pearson (also sadly now lost to us) and of course Nigel who always gave a stunning performance. Who was that American sounding guy who used to guest on vocals ? Oh happy days and very fond memories.

Lance said...

The 'American sounding guy' was actually Dave Weisser, formerly of Connecticut. Dave can be heard singing and playing trumpet with his musical associates on Wednesday nights at The Chillingham pub on Chillingham Rd., in Heaton, Newcastle circa 8:00 pm.

Chris Yates said...

The Nigel Stanger tributes made for very interesting reading indeed...yes, he was a remarkable player right enough.
Re-Gosforth Hotel line-up, I believe the late John Pearce was the pianist and often it was Gerry Richardson on bass (but possibly not always..memory blurs) Graham Sheppard (whatever happened to him?) often played baritone sax too.
Re-Savannah Syncopators UK premiere of 'Creole Rhapsody', it was part of a Jazz North East series at The Canteen (Ncle Univ. Students' Union went bust and Andy Hudson took it over as a music venue, c.1978 re-naming it as 'The Canteen'). JNE did a series of Sunday nighters and part of our programme was a special Northern Arts grant for original composition, which included the Savannah Syncopators' transcribing and performing Ellington's 1930 'Creole Rhapsody', original electronic music from the Alan Glen Complex and original music performed by the Newcastle Big Band with Don Rendell and others, no doubt Henry Lowther guesting.
Best, Chris

David said...

I also have fond memories of Nigel playing at the Corner House in Newcastle on a Sunday night in the 1980's with Little Mo's band and guests such as Jimmy Witherspoon and of coure his own band the Nigel Stanner quartet. Chas Chandler was a close friend of Nigels would often attend. A very sad loss and a genuine guy.