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Bebop Spoken There

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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Issie Barratt with Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra featuring Steve Waterman @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall. July 16.

Issie Barratt (composer/conductor), John Warren (composer/conductor), Steve Waterman (trumpet) with Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra: Paul Edis (keyboards), Andy Champion (double bass & electric bass), Adrian Tilbrook (drums), James Russell (tenor sax), Lewis Watson (tenor sax), Rod Mason (alto sax & flute), Andy Bennett (alto sax, soprano sax & clarinet), Bill Sneddon (baritone sax), Alan Bravey (bass trombone), Keith Norris (trombone), Chris Hibbard (trombone), John Millgate (trombone), Dave Connolly (trumpet), Graham Hardy (trumpet), Sean Hollis ? (trumpet), Matt Roberts (trumpet). A stroll through the grounds of Auckland Castle, a visit to Wetherspoon's Stanley Jefferson (named in honour of the great Stan Laurel) and a pint of Ferryhill Brewery's First Yard before it was time to walk across the Market Place and into the Town Hall for tonight's eagerly anticipated concert.
The north east's premier big band has worked with Ms.Barratt on more than one occasion over the last year or so and this was an opportunity to revisit some of her fiendishly difficult charts.
It was, however, the orchestra's long-time leader John Warren who got things under way with 'Park Bench Story' . A now familiar piece to north east audiences, it afforded solo space to Steve Waterman and the jovial Rod Mason, trumpet and alto respectively. Barratt took up the baton to run through 'Hold Down the Moon' from the 'Astral Pleasures' CD and tenorist Lewis Watson delivered the goods with his first solo feature.
Warren introduced a township number, 'Sanae Stomp', written to celebrate the many fine South African musicians exiled in England during the 1960s - James Russell, tenor and Andy Bennett, alto, stepped up to the plate. The first set drew to a close with an extended work from the pen of Ms.Barratt. The solo spotlight shone on altoist Rod Mason and he produced an outstanding effort. The second set began with, effectively, the Steve Waterman Quartet playing the trumpeter's own composition 'Destination Unknown', thus allowing the rest of the boys in the band extra time in the bar (or should that be 'time to compose themselves into a state of Zen-like meditation'?). The tune has become something of a party piece for this virtuoso musician with its circular-breathing coda that has to be heard to be believed (those of us fortunate to be at Waterman's small-group gig at Newcastle's Side Cafe in March were more than a little impressed on hearing it then) and tonight's rhythm section - Edis, Champion and Tilbrook - enjoyed the experience as much as the audience.
The full orchestra reassembled to perform Warren's reworking of JJ Johnson's 'Lament' and Barratt's composition 'Noneffency', the world premiere of which was heard last autumn in Stockton and made possible by being commissioned by Jazz Action. A towering work, tonight's outing featured searing solos from Watson, Waterman, Andy Champion (playing electric bass and sounding, at times, not unlike Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke) and baritone saxophonist Bill Sneddon. Sneddon's part was compulsory, so said Barratt, she herself being a baritone saxophonist! Barratt and Warren work well together and the band more than does justice to their material - a case of 'Friends in Jazz'. Issie Barratt and John Warren have created a website devoted to promoting the work of comtemporary composers. Visit www.fuzzymoonrecords.co.uk Jazz Action, the regional jazz development agency's website is: www.jazzaction.co.uk Russell .

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