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Bebop Spoken There

Steve Fishwick: “I can’t get behind the attitude that new is always somehow better than old”. (Jazz Journal, April 15, 2019).

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite & Katz Communications) You’re the BEST!

Holly Cooper, Mouthpiece Music: "Lance writes pull quotes like no one else!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.


16527 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 407 of them this year alone and, so far, 29 this month (June 12).

From This Moment On ...


Thu 13: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 13: Indigo Jazz Voices @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:45pm. £5.00. Upstairs.
Thu 13: Musicians Unlimited @ Dorman’s, Middlesbrough. 8:00pm.
Thu 13: Jazz Guys @ Tynedale Beer & Cider Festival, Corbridge. 8:00pm.
Thu 13: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 13: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guest band: Musicians Unlimited

Fri 14: Mark Williams Trio @ The Old Library, Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland. 1:00pm. £8.00.
Fri 14: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 14: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 14: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 14: Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. ‘Ella & Ellington’. 7:30pm. £18.00.
Fri 14: Customs House Big Band @ Customs House, South Shields. 7:30pm. Donations (online, min. £3.00.).

Sat 15: Keith Barrett & Andrew Porritt @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 12 noon. Free. A Cullercoats Festival event.
Sat 15: NUJO Jazz Jam @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Sat 15: James Birkett & Emma Fisk @ Sunderland Minster. 7:30pm. £15.00., £8.00. (u16s free). ‘The Great American Songbook’. A Bishopwearmouth Choral Society event, conductor David Murray.
Sat 15: Jude Murphy & Dan Stanley @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 16: Jason Isaacs @ Stack, Seaburn SR6 8AA. 1:00-2:45pm. Free.
Sun 16: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 16: Gaz Hughes Trio @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm. £10.00.
Sun 16: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 16: Gaz Hughes Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 16: Jazz Jam @ Fabio’s Bar, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Mon 17: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 17: ‘Tower of Power’ @ The Library Bar, Saddler St., Durham . 7:30pm.Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Tue 18: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Victoria & Albert Inn, Seaton Delaval. 12:30pm. £13.00. ‘Jazz, Sausage ‘n’ Mash’…’with Onion Gravy’!
Tue 18: Jam Session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Stu Collingwood, Paul Grainger, Tim Johnston.
Tue 18: Libby Goodridge & Ben Davies @ The Lost Wanderer, Leazes Park Road, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £6.00. Triple bill, inc. Goodridge & Davies (jazz).

Wed 19: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 19: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 19: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Claude Werner Quartet - Splinter @ The Bridge

Claude Werner (ten), Mark Williams (gtr), Laurence Blackadder (bs), David Carnegie (dms). This is what it's all about! Quite a night – arguably the best yet music-wise and indisputably the best yet crowd-wise in the Sunday night Splinter @ The Bridge Sessions. So crowded was it that some tables had to be removed to allow more chairs to be placed. In fairness it must be said that the audience was augmented by a contingent of maybe 20 from the Västra Götalands Ungdomssymfoniker – a Swedish youth orchestra who, earlier, had given a concert at The Sage – nevertheless, it all added to the ambiance and the Scandanavians certainly enjoyed it going by their response and the ensuing CD sales. The Swedish contingent made it a truly international affair as, on stage, we had a Chilean saxophonist, an Irish guitarist, a Barbadian drummer and a Cumbrian bass player. Roll over Esperanto – Music is the universal language. In a band of such quality it is impossible to single out one supreme moment – there were just too many. However, when Laurence played his soulful bass introduction to Daydreaming the whole room knew they were in for something special. Laurence has a sound on bass that is all his own. It's pizzicato with a legato feel to it if that makes sense. On guitar, Mark, who I suspect is one of identical triplets so many gigs does he enhance, once again showed why he is in such demand whilst David displayed yet another side to his fine technique – humour - in a burst of exchanges with Claude that brought roars of approval. This really was phenomenal as they came in swinging, trading phrase, counterphrase and paraphrase - two fighters slinging punches and going for it in the last round of a title bout. Claude encompasses the whole gamut of modern tenor playing from early Coltrane to 'Sheets of Sound Trane' with a bit of Rollins thrown in to the mix - not to mention his own highly individual approach. He also dabbled sparingly with an effects board which produced some interesting delays and reverbs and other electronic alchemy. The keyword here is 'sparingly'. All of the pieces were originals by Claude and many are on his CD Thoughts and Recollections which I'm pleased to say appeared to be selling well tonight.
Another superb evening at the Bridge Hotel. In March it's: 7th. ACV, 14th. Alter Ego, 21st. Safe Sextet and 28th. Splinter roll on...
Photos of this and previous gigs. Lance.

More on Stepneys Tuesday Mar. 2.

Gateshead College Foundation Degree in Popular Music & BA Hons Degree in Contemporary Popular Music staff and students present an evening of jazz standards, Latin, jazz funk and jazz pop from three marvellous bands. 'The Splint'a's' The evening opens at 7.30 with a set from our in house function band 'The Splint'a's' - a collective of rhythm section, wind players and vocalists who perform a rich mixture of standards, light pop, funk and function tunes. Harder Snails Exciting 9 piece band comprising 5 piece rhythm section, 3 horns and 3 vocalists. The set includes jazz standards, Latin jazz, jazz funk and jazz pop (performing tunes recorded by Michael Buble, Daniel Merriweather, Spyrogyra, Chick Corea, Maxwell and more). Cordoroy Pillow Guaranteed to make an impression. This sophisticated band (5 piece rhythm & 2 vocalists) will present a programme of jazz fusion (performing tunes recorded by Chick Corea, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny, Bobby Cauldwell and more) Technical support will be provided by music technology students. Tuesday 2 March, Stepneys Bar, Newcastle 7.30 start 3 Bridge View, Stepney Lane, close to Manors Metro Station. 10 mins walk to the City Centre and Quayside.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Anybody looking for a drummer?

Great Blog. Really good to see how popular jazz is in the North East. My name is Dan, and I am writing to ask if you know of any regular open mic/jam sessions around the Newcastle area? I've been playing the Drums for 4 years now, and was quite disappointed that the Sage seem to have chosen not to have a jam session slot at this years Jazz Festival - I sat in last year and I am trying to find somewhere to play with some new musicians. I'm really keen to put a band together or play in other scenarios really. Contact me: I'm 19 from the Newcastle area. Last year, I played at the Jazz jam session at The Sage with Dave Weisser and received a review in your blog about it. I am the Dan of that afternoon, and thank you also for the review. Dan Reed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Sage Gateshead Jazz Festival Preview - Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra w. Jason Yarde.

Already there is a buzz about this years Festival - the sixth - that wasn't there this early in previous years. On my recent trip to London several people mentioned it to me which bodes well.
The concert previewed here is a truly mouth watering combination. Those who recently saw Jason Yarde with the VOTNJO at Darlington will know what to expect. For those that didn't, such as myself, I can't wait. Directed and conducted by John Warren who supplies much of their repertoire the band contains a lot of the north-east's big hitters such as Lewis Watson, Paul Edis, Andy Champion et al. Add Jason Yarde and it is a recipe for musical success of the very highest calibre.
Jason Yarde, you may remember, played a major role in the Thelonious Monk Town Hall Project presented at the Sage last year - or was it the year before? Whatever, it was a night to rememember and not least because of Jason's alto solos.
Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra with Jason Yarde. Sat Mar. 27 Hall Two. 6:00 pm. £7.
Tickets for all concerts from The Sage Box Office, or by telephone 0191 4434661, or online
PS: There's a Festival preview in the March edition of The Crack.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Spice of Life

Wednesday nights at The Spice are never dull and never without a twist. The twist tonight came when Emma Smith, intent on doing Beautiful Love (in E minor), was joined by Ian Shaw and the pair went into the most amazing version of Centrepiece I've ever heard. They sang and they scatted in a Bach fugue-like manner. It was something else. Unlike Samson, Ian Shaw's vanishing locks have not weakened the power of his delivery. Emma did good too trading cut and thrust with Ian and not losing out.
The night began sedately enough with Paul Pace and You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To.
Paul sets the mood with a Sinatraic vocal and cool announcing. Behind him the trio of Alex Hutton (pno), Simon Little (bs) and John Blease (dms) tell the singers waiting (metaphorically) in the wings that they have nothing to fear re the backing. Paul also sang That Old Devil Moon later on.
Kate Windsor got the ball rolling with That's All, This Can't Be Love, No More Blues, the Very Thought of You, Exit Song and an uptempo Sunday.
The feeling was there.
Next the headliner Kate Eden.
Kate comes on firing to the hip with Hallelujah I Just Love Him So, Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Comes Love, Close Your Eyes, My Lean Baby, Good Morning Heartache, Yip Harberg's Down With Love and the amazing line that goes, "Give it back to the birds and the bees and the Viennese" finishing up with Wardell Gray/Annie Ross's Twisted. Would Wardell ever have imagined his solo would have been vocalised and sung in a London pub sixty years after he recorded it?
Michelle from New York sang a bouncy Spiderman that was kind of like a female Bobby McFerrin.
That rare species known as the male vocalist got up and crooned Stairway To The Stars. This was John ? who had been listening, I guess, to Mel Tormé he looked a bit like Jimmy Carter (former president) but probably was a better singer.
SARAH ELLEN HUGHES - a keen supporter of BSH sang But Not For Me. Sarah was the only singer tonight to sing the verse. She scatted and phrased the lyric cleverly.
Sarah is back in the main spot on June 2.
Esther Bennett did Loverman and a lady introduced as 'Yotz', I think, gave Moondance a blast. (Yots Koutsouvelis of Jazz UK fame - tomorrow they have Vasilis Xenopoulos!)
Then came the grand finale with Ian and Emma.
There may have been better nights at The Spice but they can't have been much better!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ian Carr - Celebration of a life in music. Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London.

I'd forgotten just how brilliant Nucleus were but at tonight's celebration of the life of Ian Carr Nucleus Re-visited & guests gave the packed auditoreum a timely reminder. Led from the piano/keyboards by Geoff Castle they produced a powerful sound that raised the bar out of sight and that is no reflection on the great music that preceded Nucleus of which more later. I'm not going to list all the pieces but the opener - Mr Jelly Lord - told us we were in for one helluva finale. Tim Whitehead, who'd performed earlier on soprano and bass clarinet with Guy Barker in Ian's Northumbrian Sketches, had some blistering tenor solos but for me Mark Wood's blast on Roots stole the night although perhaps I'm letting parochial pride colour my judgement. Ray Russell came on and 'burned' Midnight Oil whilst John Marshall joined Nie France for some powerful percussion on Lady Bountiful a 5/4 explosion. The final Things Past began reflectively before breaking loose with Tim and Mark once again cooking. On trumpet, Chris Batchelor had the unenviable role of Ian Carr - he did it faultlessly. Likewise Phil Todd on soprano and flute also had moments to cherish. Rob Statham was more than just a bass player. For me he was the standout on the Northumbrian Sketches suite. The evening began with Dorian Ford playing Ian's Icarus on the bar area grand piano. A very complex piece played well. More solo piano kicked off the concert proper. Nicki Yeoh, a former student of Ian's played her own Two Bears Dancing and The Healer. A very talented young lady watch this space. Michael Garrick Sextet were next up. Michael Garrick (pno), Norma Winstone (vcl), Henry Lowther (tpt), Art Themen (ten), Dave Green (bs), Trevor Tompkins (dms) and, later, Don Rendell joined on tenor and flute for an updated look at their pad from way back. In particular, Webster's Mood, dedicated to Ben had some outstanding Art on tenor, Don on flute and an expressive vocal by Norma. The delights were too numerous to mention but an uptempo piece appropriately entitled The Torrent got the ventricles pumping. Which just leaves the Northumbrian Sketches. Introduced by Morse's sidekick, Kevin Whately, the strings, led by Sylvia Slany and conducted by Mike Gibbs, were sumptuous enveloping the listener in a reverie of seascapes and pastoral landscapes. I imagined the view from the top of Garleigh Moor near Rothbury or waves on the beach at Bamburgh. The solos from Guy and Tim were excellent yet... it didn't fully connect with me. Possibly it was because I'd had a long day's travel and got rather wet in the process but overall it was a little too soporific for me. And yes, I know it was me not the music - I was tired (please feel free to select your own alternative!) Even so, nothing could detract from what was a perfect tribute to a musician and a gentleman. Lance.
PS: I should also mention that the biggest round of applause from both the musicians and the audience was accorded to Coleridge Goode. Wheelchair bound Coleridge now aged 94 and a former colleague of Ian's beamed with delight at the recognition given by all present.
PPS: Tonight it's the Spice of Life - lots of variety.

Whatever Next?

Saw a ukelele in a store window described as a Les Paul Ukelele. Please tell me there isn't a Barney Kessel Banjo. Lance.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jazz Aristocracy @ The Cherry Tree

It was almost like a jazz BAFTA when I passed through the portals of 'The Tree' tonight. Celebrities of a previous golden jazz era abounded. There was Gordon Solomon, Jackie Denton, John Hedley, Germaine Stanger to mention but a few. The excuse for this galactic assembly was to celebrate Andy Hudson's birthday. I wished him a couple of happy returns.
The main event of the evening - apart from the Moules Frites & Aioli - was tenor player Mick Donnelly's debut at the venue.
I'd never heard Mick Before but, nor had I eaten Moules or Aioli until tonight although Frites I have had a long term relationship with.
I'm pleased to say that neither Mick nor Les Moules (mussels actually) disappointed me.
Mick has that big tough tenor sound reminiscent of someone like Arnette Cobb although with more than a hint of today about it.
They kicked off with Time After Time just as I started on Black Pudding Croquet with Sauce Gribiche. Both went down a treat.
Take The A Train had more booting tenor whilst Nature Boy was softer, more sinuous and with a latin feel to it. Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year and I Thought About You finished off the first set as I was finishing off Les Moules.
It goes without saying, although it shouldn't go without saying, that the Paul Edis Trio were superb in support and Paul's solos didn't cause any pain at all.
For the second set they got down to business and sent the room into orbit with a driving version of On The Sunnyside of the Street. It was all systems go with Doxy, St Thomas, Yardbird Suite and When Sunny Gets Blue - one of those ballads to end all ballads. This latter tune was sheer magic that even Cantaloupe Island couldn't match although my Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mascapone came pretty close.
As I left I exchanged pleasantries with some of today's jazz royalty - David Carnegie, Claude Werner, Dr Nicola and Judith the violin.
Quite an evening.
Mick Donnelly (ten), Paul Edis (pno), Mick Shoulder (bs), Adam Sinclair (dms)

Soliloquy by Savash Saka - In Memoriam

It's just over a year since my nephew Sav died tragically at the age of 42 ; some of you will have known him or heard me talk about his fantastic musicianship on guitar and latterly on drums. I was just listening to him playing guitar on this haunting piece he wrote some years ago for his duo, Passion Dance, (with Robin Jones) and thought some of you might like to hear it - think of it as a sort of 5 minute meditation on the chance nature of existence - or not! You can also listen to Sav knocking 3 bells out of his Roland Electronic drum kit by visiting - it's worth a listen, he was a committed pro and he was very good. Please don't hesitate to let me know what you thought of Sav's piece or anything else come to that. George Milburn.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mark Williams Trio.

Mark Williams (gtr), Paul Susans (bs), David Carnegie (dms).
The Sunday evening Splinter @ The Bridge gigs are tailormade for Mark Williams - just about every one so far has displayed a different side to his talents.
Remember how Sammy Davis Jnr. would sing a song and do impersonations of various other singers then, when it came to the final chorus he would say dramatically "And this is me!"
Tonight, Mark Williams did just that - metaphorically speaking that is - he is a man of few words. Tonight Mark, the real Mark Williams, unveiled his true self with a couple of sets that set The Bridge on fire.
With Paul Susans (bs) and David Carnegie (dms) Mark played imaginative originals that incorporated Paul and David as equal thirds with himself. Gentle and conventional until the set closer which was a belter. No other word for it. Close your eyes and images of a jazzified Cream may pass by as all three went for it.
The second set saw Paul move from double bass to precision (or was it a jazz?) as the trio launched off into orbit. By comparision the first set was Fenwicks' Tea room - this one was Fillmore East.
Three men in a boat jumping overboard, swimming frantically in different directions then returning each one telling his own tale of adventure. It was organised chaos that all came together beautifully when it needed to.
Mark was on top of his game but what about David Carnegie? He kicked ass and good.
Paul Susans? He can mix it with the best of them and who cares if it's in 9/8 or whatever.
On stage we marvelled at Mark's dexterity - so light-fingered as to be almost unbelievable.
Even so there was someone else even more light fingered than Mark in the audience - the person or persons unknown who nicked 3 of the table candlelights.
Another good one. Next week the Claude Werner Quartet. Don't be surprised if Mark and David are on this one too!

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE! The Herald-Tribune will want this one..

The Vieux Carre Jazzmen's Mardi Gras Celebration at The Boardwalk, Whitley Bay.
Norma Barnes scoops 1st prize for her home-made Mardi Gras mask. Judge, Helen Moore, Community Arts Development Manager for Blyth Valley Arts & Leisure said, "there were lots of excellent masks, including one with a Newcastle United theme which could have won. However, Norma's got the nod when I looked at the reverse side of the mask to see it was made from a corn flakes packet - well done Norma! "
Brian Bennett.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

WJRK @ Trinity Church, Gosforth.

Mike Durham (tpt/vcl), Derek Fleck (clt.alt/vcl), Brian Chester (pno), Keith Stephen (bjo), Phil Rutherford (sousa), Kenny Milne (dms).
One thing about WJRK is their repertoire - I think Mike Durham once told me they had over 600 - maybe even 720 (tunes) - in the book. If so, it is no surprise that they are able to avoid the flogged to death numbers so beloved of many trad bands.
Indeed, tonight, the only numbers that could be said to have suffered from over-exposure were Savoy Blues and Tiger Rag. However, some creativity from Brian Chester and Keith Stephen, the world's least baddest banjoist, respectively, gave validity to the old warhouses.
Other tunes included Egyptian Ella, Bimbo on a Bamboo Island, Let's Misbehave - this was quite unique as it had a scattish vocal from Derek Fleck - Buddy's Habits, Jackass Blues, Cake-walking Babies - there were other quite obscure numbers too which made for a pleasant albeit not earth-shattering night.
On sousaphone Phil Richardson, on occasion, had the agility of a string bass and his tone on solos was positively sonorous.
The drum stool was occupied by Kenny Milne, all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland. Unfamiliar with much of the material Kenny kept a low-profile whilst doing everything that was asked.
Mike Durham, these days, sounds more like Humph than Humph both playing and announcing.
Vocalwise the mic system didn't do him justice likewise the lighting system didn't help Brian.
The band wore ties with red peppers on them - I kid you not! -and in many ways they sounded like Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers without Jelly Roll Morton.
Despite a few gliches here and there which emphasised the fact that this is a band that isn't playing together as frequently as it deservedly should be I enjoyed the evening and the reasonably sized audience trotted home contentedly.
Next month, March 13, is the big one - Daryl Sherman with the Digby Fairweather Quartet. I can't wait even if it is just to see how Daryl finds the transition from the Waldorf Astoria, New York, to Trinity Centre, Gosforth.
No I'm looking forward to them both - See and hear her from the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, New York City in this YouTube clip..

Beatles To Bowie Exhibition

Very impressed by the 1960's photographic exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle even if the jazz content was limited which I suppose reflected the era.
However, there was one glaring error.
The photo of the John Barry Seven showed local trumpet hero Bobby Carr but the caption read 'd. 1962'.
If that is the case then it must have been Bobby's ghost playing "I Remember Clifford" with the Newcastle Big Band in the 1970s.
Maybe it was Clifford Brown playing "I Remember Bobby"!
Can anyone remember when Bobby actually died?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sage Gateshead Jazz Festival 2010 Preview - The Stan Tracey Octet

Stan Tracey C.B.E. has worked in many different settings ranging from backing such greats as Stan Getz, Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins and many more via solo and small group sessions to leading a big band playing his own compositions and arrangements. However, amidst all these different settings, the one that stands out for me is his Octet.
More than a small group, less than a big band, the octet seems to capture the best of both mediums.
I first heard them at Scarborough in 2007 and was completely floored. At Gateshead this year the line-up is virtually the same except Guy Barker is on trumpet - a plus point - or six - in anyone's book.
Alongside Barker, Mark Nightingale, (tmb), Sammy Mayne (alto), Simon Allen and Mornington Lockett on tenors make for an unbeatable front-line. With Tracey senior on piano, Tracey junior (Clark) on drums and, most likely, Andy Cleyndert on bass this is an absolute dream line-up.
Like Duke Ellington, Stan Tracey's alma mater, he writes to the strengths of his sidemen which, given the strength of his sidemen, gaves him much strength indeed!
I'm looking forward to this one even if it means foregoing Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra - I bet that, afterwards, two buses come along at once!
The Stan Tracey Octet. Hall Two 8:00pm. Friday March 26. £7 - £18.50.
(There is a Pre-concert talk where author and broadcaster Alyn Shipman takes Stan Tracey on a journey through his life and music from the early days of modern jazz in this country. This is in Hall Two and is free to ticket holders for the Stan Tracey concert.)
Tickets for all concerts from The Sage Box Office, or by telephone 0191 4434661, or online

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Maine Street Jazzmen @ Rosie Malone's

Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl/hca), Brian Carrick (clt/ten), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
After their triumphant tour of Leeds, the Maine Street boys and girl came out to play at Rosie Malone's today with a surprise guest on clarinet - Brian Carrick depping for Jim McBriarty. Playing a steel clarinet that it is said once belonged to New Orleans legend George Lewis Brian gets that vintage sound so beloved of the purists with perhaps a touch of Sidney Bechet's soprano added.
He also played equally vintage tenor giving us an indication of what Coleman Hawkins may have sounded like before he joined Fletcher Henderson.
However, with Ray Harley blowing trumpet there was no danger of returning too close to the Delta and the result was their usual driving Dixieland.
Olive, as per, was in good voice, Herbie joined her for a vocal duo on Deed I Do as well as soloing on trombone and harmonica.
Malcolm Armstrong, a tower of strength on piano ably abetted by Alan and Tommy.
Oh and, in the absence of buddies B and M, I won a bottle of California's finest in the raffle!
A convivial afternoon. There were even ladies dancing!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Benny's Last Goodbye

If you are given to trawling the Pound Shops as I am you may stumble across a DVD by Benny Goodman described as "His Last Performance" filmed and recorded at the Tivoli in Sweden. Flash the cash whilst it is there - I bought it a few years back for a fiver - it is a fitting tribute to the one time King of Swing. That the tone may have become slightly thinner and the well worn standards played a thousand times before doesn't detract from the fluency of his playing. Benny even appeared to be enjoying himself - the famous ray conspicuous by its absence and replaced by, of all things, a smile! Behind him, the Swedish quartet swung sympathetically as they worked out on Lady Be Good, Poor Butterfly, The World Is Waiting for The Sunrise, Send in the Clowns, It's Easy To Remember. Jimmy Maxwell, a longtime Goodman trumpet associate played I'm Confessin tightly muted before Benny joined him for Don't Be That Way that somehow segued into Stomping At The Savoy. The guitarist, Harry Pepe, had a nice Charlie Christian feel to his solo. I Should Care was a piano solo for Don Haas who played brilliantly throughout. Maxwell was replaced by Svend Asmusen on violin who teamed up with Benny for If I Had You and a faster After You've Gone. They both went for it culminating in a blistering albeit chaotic finale. Maxwell returned to join Benny and Svend for Air Mail Special before, after demands for more, the 'king' played a few bars of his theme tune Goodbye. It's well worth a pound (I think I saw it in Wilkinsons for 99p if the recession is still hitting you) and a fitting reminder of one of jazz's all-time greats swinging off into the sunset. Benny Goodman (clt), Jimmy Maxwell (tpt), Svend Asmunssen (vln), Don Haas (pno), Harry Pepe (gtr), Charly Antolini (dms), Peter Witte (Bs).
PS: I opted out of the Chilli tonight because of the 'Fog on the Tyne'.

Plenty New Under the Sun (Ra)

The Sage Gateshead Jazz Festival is now but just over 5 weeks away and, on paper, looks likely to be the best yet. There are so many good things happening that it is nigh impossible to encapsulate them all here so I intend to take an occasional look at some of them individually between now and March 26 which is the opening night.
This is the night when Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra pay tribute to their spiritual inspirations - the Cosmic Jazz of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane.
However, this is more than the sincerest form of flattery it is an original concept in it's own right mingling their sounds with those of dub innovator Coxsone Dodd, exotica pioneer Martin Denny and more.
Expect outré costumes, theatrics and visuals in a mix of ska, reggae, hip-hop, dub-step, rock and outer -spatial sounds - "an unforgetable ride across the galaxies", the brochure tells us, featuring some of the UK's finest jazz musicians. Well, at Gateshead, you wouldn't expect anything less.
To whet your appetite for what's in store click here.
The only downside to this concert is that it clashes with the Stan Tracey Octet in Hall Two of which more later.
Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra Hall One. Friday March 26 7:30 pm. Tickets £19.50 from The Sage Box Office, by phone 0191 4434661, or online at

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Farewell Jake Hanna

Sad to learn of the death of drummer Jake Hanna. Jake was one of the great allrounders. Whether booting the Herman Herd, handling the demands of a TV broadcast, or gently coaxing Marian McPartland Jake did it all professionally and swingingly. In her semi autobiographical book All In Good Time Marian devotes an entire chapter to Jake. She describes how, after sitting in on an Anita O'Day gig she was tremendously excited by the immediate rapport between Jake and herself and by the easy relaxed feeling he created. He subsequently worked with Marian's trio for the next two years. She says that, when he handed in his notice he gave her a Waring Blender!
Caught him at the 1985 North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland where he swung a Herman small group along.
I think he may have been with Woody on one of his earlier visits to the UK.
Jake died Feb 12 age 78.

Get Me To Debenhams on Time

Man about town and batchelor at large Russell informs me that Brian Carrick's Heritage Hall Stompers or parts there of play a gig in Debenhams at the MetroCentre on Saturday 20th February. 12 noon start, free admission.
Billed as the Heritage Hall Stompers Trio, they play at the Debenhams' Wedding Show !!!

It Never Rains But...

Thursday February 25 is one of those days when you don't want to be twins but triplets! Apart from the Graeme Stephen Septet at Gateshead Old Town Hall and Ruth Lambert with the Custom's House Big Band at Blaydon news has just come in of the following free gig at Bishop Auckland College! Fenner Sisters and Band - Thursday 25 February 7.00pm - 8.30pm.
Woodhouse Lane Bishop Auckland,
County Durham DL14 6JZ TEL: 01388 443126 (ext 2311) FAX: 01388 443075 WEB:
The Music Foundation students who organised the event would appreciate your support and. although there isn't a bar it is permissable to bring your own.
Hopefully the 3 gigs are far enough apart in distance and style not to have an effect on the attendance figures.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year

Colin and Jeanie Aitchison and the China Coast Jazzmen wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Year of the Tiger. Colin and Jeanie. Photos.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Zoe Gilby Quintet - Splinter @ The Bridge.

Zoe Gilby (vcl), Mark Williams (gtr), Noel Dennis (tpt/flg), Andy Champion (bs), Richard Brown (dms).
There was a time when I was in danger of becoming slightly blasé about Zoe. I'd heard her that many times I felt she had peaked - admitedly a very high peak. However, tonight, she blew the blaséness well and truly away.
I say this, not just because she 'cited' yours truly in I Only Have Eyes For You (I knew she'd come round eventually!) but because tonight was simply the best I've ever heard her sing. Perhaps the salty Lowestoft air had added an extra something to her larynx. Whatever, our girl was absolutely at the top of her game.
Perched precariously atop golden slippers with heels not quite as high as Grey's Monument, Zoe not only looked fantastic but sounded likewise as she led us starry-eyed from Love for Sale, via Funny Valentine (natch), Night in Tunisia, Lover Come Back To Me, her own poignant Your Words, BSH's occasional correspondent George Milburn's Take It and I Didn't Know What Time It Was, to Cole Porter's I Love You. This was a blistering first set and it wasn't just Zoe who set the room on fire.
Noel Dennis too was on form he has developed into very much his own man. His solos were a delight throughout. Only regret - a little more flugel next time.
By his own standards Mark Williams was relatively subdued although he did have moments of glory both solowise and as accompanist - he will have the spotlight next week with his trio - don't miss it!
Andy Champion, was a tower of strength, as always, such is his bowed dexterity I often wonder what he'd be like on cello - there haven't been too many jazz cellists. On drums, Richard Brown has become another force to be reckoned with on the percussion scene.
The general consensus during the interval was that not only was Z singing better than ever but her stage presence too was near perfect.
That Old Black Magic kicked off the second set and once again we knew there would be no troughs just more peaks.
Zoe's take on Secret Love began a la Doris Day before seguéing into Carmen McRae's raunchier version; skull blowing moments too from Noel, Andy and Mark.
Some Cat's Know - Peggy Lee sang it on her Mirrors album and Lieber and Stoller wrote it. You want songwriters? Those two guys are up there with the greats (Love Potion Number 9 etc). Zoe gave it the Peggy treatment - I think Mrs Barbour would have approved.
Darn That Dream and Centrepiece finished the night off and I left singing I Only Have Eyes For You.

Two Photography Exhibitions in Newcastle

At Northumbria University's University Gallery there is a ''last chance to see'' Jane Bown's superb photographic portraits of artists, musicians, writers and others. The exhibition includes a double portrait of George Melly and Maggi Hambling (on another occasion Melly sat for a portrait by Hambling) and portraits of others with, in some cases, a tangenial link to the jazz world such as Woody Allen, Philip Larkin and Spike Lee.
The show runs until Saturday 19th February.
Down the road at the Laing Art Gallery (until Sunday 18th April) is ''Beatles to Bowie: the 60s exposed''. As the title suggests, the exhibition, drawn fron the National Portrait Gallery's collection, is largely devoted to the pop stars of the time. There is some jazz interest in the form of a double portrait of Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Georgie Fame outside of the Flamingo and a group portrait of the abstemious Temperance Seven.

St Valentine's Day Double Diva Delight Tonight.

Tonight - St. Valentine's Day no less - has the Zoe Gilby Quintet as this week's "Splinter @ The Bridge" gig. Zoe will front her usual suspects in the form of Andy Champion (bs), Ric Brown (dms), Graeme Wilson (ten) and Mark Williams (gtr). Zoe starts doing it at 7:30/7:45 pm. -----
Down the road a'piece at the Bascule Bar, St Peter's Basin the Ruth Lambert Trio will also be wooing the Valentine Faction. With Ruth will be Paul Gamblin (gtr) and Paul Susans (bs).
This is going to be a tough choice. However, that mother of Invention Russell has pointed out that by judiciously throwing one's self down Dog Leap Stairs one could then catch the Link Bus along the Quayside to that part of the Tyne Riviera known as St Peter's Basin and thus grab a set from both girls.

Another lyric.

Manhattan and the line that goes..."The city's clamour can never spoil, the dreams of a boy and goil..." Larry Hart of course. Lance.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ian Carr Concert Update

LondonJazz have posted details of the Feb 23 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London, concert in celebration of the life of Ian Carr. It should be an evening of epic proportions and I am looking forward to it immensly. Front row seat (A10) no less.
LJ also announce the release of a previously undiscovered session by the Rendell/Carr Quintet.
If the picture on the cover of the CD looks familar it is because it is one taken by former Vieux Carré trombonist Jack Goodwin and subsequently displayed on Bebop Spoken Here where it too was 'discovered' by the producers of the CD and used with Jack's permission.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Radio 3 Sees The Light

Next week, starting Monday Feb 15, BBC's much maligned jazz coverage takes an upturn.
Each weekday they are broadcasting at noon (repeated 22:00hrs), in their 'Composer of the Week' series, a 60 minute program entitled "Bebop".
Now I'm not quite sure how Bebop comes under the heading of COTW but that's the BEEB for you and I for one don't intend to put my head into the mouth of a gift horse.
To cut to the quick it is 5 half-hour programmes devoted to the development of the music we love.

An Excellent Show But... Sinatra Live @ The Sands (Actually the Grand Opera House York.).

This show had the potentially winning formula of the best of lyrics, beautifully interpreted through great familiar arrangements, and a smooth swinging band with powerful brass and a stand out rhythm section.
There was no doubting Stephen Triffitt's laid back relaxed style, working the stage with confidence and that rare knack of making every listening woman think the love words were meant for her alone, as did Sinatra!
The first half, he explained was he, Stephen, singing in his style some great numbers, and great they were.. Summer Wind, Night & Day, Please Be Kind & many more including that lovely Victor Young number Street of Dreams.
So far so good.
The second half, however, as the title of the show indicated it would be, was a mock up of The Sands, which simply meant everyone had changed into Dinner Jackets and he, Stephen, cracked a good few asides, Sinatra style.
WHY? we weren't in Las Vegas, we were in York for God's sake! and didn't need that bit of fantasy, perhaps it was to provide variation and justify the show's title. My biggest gripe was the silence between numbers, apart from generous applause, no audience reaction, and none sought. It was fine whilst he was singing and the band were playing but what was needed was an intimate night club atmosphere where there were no footlights between audience and performer. But, oh dear, in a cool theatre - a Grand Opera House no less - with many empty seats we did need to be wooed for that gap to be bridged. I got the impression that he didn't actually need an audience, he had his band and talent...end of !
The odd way of leader Nigel Hailwood in introducing each member of the band individually by name right at the very end meant 17 bursts of applause...but what of their pedigree?
The 2 guys I spoke to afterward had been with Syd Lawrence for years, we needed to know that.
Most of all, in a band with so much talent, some solos downstage would have been good too.
Am I being picky? well when you have seen the great band shows of the past you know what works!
It was still worth seeing and I hope Lance or one of his cohorts picks it up in South Shields.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New release from Tommy Whittle.

Tubbs, Ronnie, Danny Moss may be gone but there are still a few Grandmasters left on the British tenor scene.
Don Rendell, of course, Vic Ash and a personal favourite - Tommy Whittle.
Tommy's two recent (ish) CDs on the Spotlite label have brought home to me just how wonderful a tenor player he still is. Now in his 80s he blows with the zest and enthusiasm of youth.
The tone is rounder and perhaps more related to, say, Lucky Thompson than the Getzian approach he once favoured yet the playing is as melodic and lyrical as ever.
On "The Tenor Connection" , rated in Jazz Journal's Critics Poll as no. 3 in the New Releases of 2009 section, Tommy pays tribute to some of his favourite tenor players - Lucky, Lester, Byas, Zoot...
With Mark Nightingale on trombone, Richard Busiakiewicz on piano (how much would Pee-wee Marquette demand to announce that name correctly at Birdland?) Jim Richardson, bass and Bobby Worth drums this is one of those discs that can stand, head held high, on either side of the Atlantic.
Listen to Tommy's wistful exploration of Lucky's A Lady's Vanity this is musical confection of the highest order. Likewise The Things We Did Last Summer his gentle exposition of the melody gets to the very heart of the song I almost believed I'd found an explanation for that 'sudden Summer rain' so convincing was his playing!
I'm already in danger of wearing it out.
PS: It is quite a while since Tommy was last at Blaydon and it would be lovely if Roly were to bring him back one more time but, needs must...
I note Tommy, along with Karen Sharp is at Boston Spa on March 27 which also happens to be the weekend of the Gateshead Sage Jazz Festival... How I'd love to have seen this coupling at the Festival but I guess it is not cutting edge enough for the Sage although Whittle and Sharp does sound a bit cutting edgy...

Maine Street Jazzmen @ Rosie's

Olive Rudd (vcl), Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl), Jim McBriarty (clt/vcl), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms).
Despite the demise of the River City Jazzmen - chronicled elsewhere - today it seemed as though they'd never been gone. On stage at Rosie's there were at least three former members from three different editions of the RCJ plus a couple of RCJ occasionals. There was even one of their former drummers in the audience.
Like the River City, the Maine Street Jazzmen are firm in their belief that good jazz should also be good entertainment and that's what today was all about.
As I passed through the portals of Rosie Malone's I was engulfed by a Kid Ory-like upward glissando on Savoy Blues - Herbie Hudson 'callin' the chillun home'.
For a moment I though it was 1954 and I was in the Beverly Cavern out in LA. But no, the music may have been caught in a timewarp, a most enjoyable timewarp I hasten to add, but this was definitely South Shields 2010 - the cigarette littered pavement told me that.
The musical timewarp ambience continued with Jim McBriarty's vocal on Nobody's Sweetheart; almost sacrilege to use a mic. it should have been a megaphone. I love the line "... painted lips, painted eyes, wearing a bird of paradise..." could the era be better typified?
Ballin' the Jack brought back memories of school dances and of buying a 78rpm version by Ory in a record shop in Hawick (Scotland) - still got it.
Olive strutted her familiar repertoire - Some of These Days, Swing That Music, Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland, I Double Dare You , winners all but it is a long time since I heard her sing I Thought About You (request for next week.)
Ray led the ensembles and soloed with his customary vigour and Jim, when not waxing lyrical over birds of paradise played his, as ever, flawless clarinet solo's. Rhythm section were solid Jackson with Malcolm making out like Bob Zurke of the old Bob Crosby Bobcats.
It was a good afternoon. You guys who haven't stowed away on the ferry don't know what your missing in sunny (ish) South Shields.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alan Glen Trio Take it to the Bridge One More Time.

Alan Glen (pno), Jim Crinson (bs), David Carnegie (dms).
Dave Weisser (tpt/vcl), Doug Fielder (ten), Barrie Ascroft (pno), Jim Crinson (bs), Mathew Office (gtr), Eric Stutt (dms).
There are some nice things that happen monthly. Counteracting the bills there are things like a favourite magazine dropping through the letterbox, your paycheck going into the bank, the wife going to stay with her mother for a few days; an endless list. My monthly fix is when the Alan Glen Trio play the Chilli.
This is always an eagerly anticipated event even if tonight raised some initial doubts.
Doubts, I hasten to add, that were hastily dispelled.
In a nutshell, Pope, John, couldn't make the gig - presumably he had some Papal duties to perform - and regular Chilli Bull fiddle man Jim Crinson stepped into the breach totally unrehearsed.
The 'boy' did good! Jim handled everything that was dished up and emerged with his reputation untarnished.
Love For Sale, I Should Care, a Glen original entitled Big Deal in Ocho-Rios, Alone Together, What's New, It Could Happen to You and Autumn Leaves. A set list to salivate over and when played by Maestro Glen it is as near to perfection as you'll get on a cold night in Heaton (substitute Heaton with anywhere).
The flurry of notes, the (seemingly) eleven fingered chords, the sheer inventiveness of his improvisations - his fingers leave few notes untouched as he shows what can be done with the well-tempored klaviarchord - all serve to remind me why each monthly visit from the trio is eagerly awaited. Anyone with a modicum of interest in jazz should have been here tonight to witness an artist re-writing modern jazz piano.
David Carnegie, once again, as he did with Extreme Measures on Sunday, demonstrated his all-round versatility (of which we'll hear more).
Jim Crinson? He came off that stage a star.
Earlier, the Take it to the Bridge gang had played a set that had Dave working out on My Foolish Heart - he really got his chanting chops into this one.
Doug played a gentle, probing, tenor solo round the sequence keeping the mood going whilst, on guitar, young Mathew also had his say. I think Dave should let Matt play a trio/quartet feature with the rhythm section, give him a chance to fly.
In the final set the band did things to In Your Own Sweet Way and Whisper Not before David Carnegie returned to the stage - on piano.
The number was a blues in F - Blues For Duane.
David took the Freddie Hubbard tune to the cleaners. I can honestly say that this was the best blues piano solo by a drummer I've ever heard unless Harley Johnson's a drummer.

Milestones Jazz Club - The steady beacon which shines for jazz in Lowestoft, first Sunday evening of each month, at The Hotel Hatfield

(I'm grateful to Hil for forwarding me this review of Zoe's recent Lowestoft gig.
I said, “There is, in this writer’s opinion, a great gig coming up that should not be missed.”
Well, it is gratifying to occasionally be proved correct. Zoe Gilby, supported by Andy Champion (bass), Simon Browne (piano) and Brian McAlister (drums), managed with ease to entice out a large number of local jazz fans on a cold ‘most easterly’ night, and this included our contingent of SJF representatives.
All of the first set was taken by Zoe showcasing a selection of her fine repertoire, often very much as a front line jazz instrument, backed up with just Andy Champion on double bass. Not easy to do I imagine, but this lady made it look effortless.
During the second set Zoe was backed by the trio in more conventional style. If you are sorry to have missed this great evening, then watch for further appearances and try to include her in your diary of ‘must have’ dates - we believe you will not be disappointed.
You can hear and learn more via this link - Zoe Gilby.
The next gig at Milestones is on Sun 7th March 2010 when the feature will be the ever popular Jim Mullen Organ Trio.
For more info about current & future presentations go to
Stephen Mynott.

Tonight @ The Chilli

The long awaited return to the Chillingham by the Alan Glen Trio takes place tonight (Feb. 10). With Alan on piano will be John Pope (bs) and David Carnegie (dms).
In support the resident "Take it to the Bridge" led by former Stateside trumpet/vocalist Dave Weisser will set the scene for the main event and the Jam session that follows.
Mouthwatering prospect ahead.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The River City Story by Gordon Solomon.

This is a copy of a 2005 article from Just Jazz International magazine by trombonist and leader of the River City Jazzmen, Gordon Solomon. It is re-printed here as a tribute to the band after they'd called it a day earlier this year. Lance. "The RCJ was formed in 1955, making this year, 2005, the 50°’ anniversary for the band... "
"It was in fact Gordon Solomon who first coined the nick-name Sting,-- due to Sting’s insistence on wearing a striped yellow and black rugby shirt on stage, making him look like a large wasp!Some years later..."
"In the trumpet chair is Ray Harley. Ray learned his trade in the City of Coventry band before playing in the Mecca and Top Rank dance bands of the period..."
A fascinating tale of a popular band. There are many more stories out there like Harry Stephenson playing clarinet with a spider dangling from the bell let's hear them from you.

Graham Hardy Quartet @ The Cherry Tree Restaurant Jesmond.

The Cherry Tree prides itself on its high quality food and fast efficient service so it comes as no surprise to find that the Osborne Road restaurant is now ranked number one in the North East on the Tripadviser website.
Last night, this was coupled with a very high class musical ensemble comprising some of the best musicians in the North East: Graham Hardy (tpt/flug), Mark Williams (gtr), Neil Harland (bs) and Rob Walker (dms).
What a concert they played !
Their playlist included, My Romance, El Baile Del Loco (a Graham Hardy original), I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free (don't we all?), How Insensitive, The Very Thought Of You (beautiful solo from Graham), In A Mellow Tone, The Melon Felony (another Graham original), and finishing with But Not For Me.
Every member of the band contibuted to a memorable evening greatly appreciated by an audience which included two large parties on the mezzanine floor.
Future bookings:
Monday Feb 15: Mo Scott with Rod Sinclair (first appearance at the restaurant ) and Neil Harland,
Monday Feb 22: Mick Donnelly (first appearance ) with Paul Edis, Mick Shoulder and Aden Sinclair.
Monday March 1 Zoe Gilby with her Quartet.
Book tables now on 0191 2399924.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tonight's Tasty Offerings.

At the Cherry Tree Restaurant, Osborne Rd., Jesmond, tonight trumpet/flugel player, Graham Hardy is the Chef's Choice. Served up with Mark Williams, guitar, Neil Harland, bass and Rob Walker, drums, this promises to be nonpareil muso-cuisine. Down beat served circa 7:30 pm. ----- In neighbouring Heaton's Corner House Hotel the Vieux Carré Jazzmen are served ready salted from 8:45 pm.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Extreme Pleasures From Extreme Measures - Splinter @ The Bridge

Gary Turner (ten), Mark Williams (gtr), Stu Collingwood (keys), Stuart Davies (bs), David Carnegie (dms).
Another good turnout at the Bridge Hotel for Extreme Measures. As I pointed out in my previous post, in years to come you'll want to tell your grandchildren about this band. They are simply the best in their chosen genre - jazz/rock/funk.
Tonight saw the first appearance with the band of Stuart Collingwood who has taken over on piano, or 'keys', - to use the current buzz word - from Ben Gilbert.
Totally different stylistically from Ben, Stu and the band have gelled together well to bring a different dimension to the music. Stu has also added a couple of his own pieces to the library both of which were premiered tonight.
Out front, Gary and Mark sell excitement. Mark is well known on the scene - he pops up anywhere from the Cherry Tree to The Chilli and can adapt to any situation. Catch his trio at this venue in two weeks time in a Splinter/JNE co-promotion.
Gary Turner is less predictable rarely being seen with other bands. Unless I'm missing something I find this strange as he can blow modern with the best of them.
With EM they each tend to begin with laid-back, meandering, probing phrases that gently lull the listener into a false sense of security before, almost imperceptibly, building up to a wild guitar thrash or a Coltranic 'sheets of sound' tenor blast that has the heart pumping out a cardiacal rhythm faster than a David Carnegie drum solo which brings me to David Carnegie.
David is not just a powerhouse drummer, he can do subtle and often does, but it is as the driving force behind EM where he excels. Constantly urging the soloists forward he drives them to unbelievable heights before taking off on his own helter-skelter multi-rhythmic ride.
Last, and by no means least and dispelling my doubts about his availability, Stuart Davies provided the bass guitar anchor that keeps it all within the extremities of the measure.
If the Sunday nights continue at this level I guess the Bridge is here to stay.
PS: Next week the Zoe Gilby Quintet.

It's Worth Taking Extreme Measures to Hear Extreme Measures at the Bridge Tonight.

Top jazz rock funk band Extreme Measures play the Bridge tonight as part of the Splinter @ The Bridge series of gigs.
With David Carnegie leading from the drums and such luminaries as Gary Turner on tenor, Mark Williams, guitar, Stu Collingwood, piano, not sure about bass as Stuart Davies I think will be away, It will be a night to remember.
This is one of those bands that you will tell your grandchildren about so start now - tell your kids to go out and procreate.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


To say I'm shocked and saddened at hearing of the death of Johnny Dankworth is an understatement.
His music and I go back a long way and, even now, 60 years later, I have to be honest and admit that I've still not got around to thinking of him as Sir John or even plain and simple John. To me, and just about every modern jazz fan of a certain age, he will always be Johnny Dankworth.
In the 1950s the Johnny Dankworth Seven were frequent visitors to Newcastle and I recall seeing the band many times at the Odeon Cinema - in those days live music was allowed on a Sunday but the latest films weren't so the Odeon and the Essoldo featured Band Shows by all the top bands of the day.
The Seven also appeared at the City Hall and, believe it or not, the Memorial Hall (The Mem) in Wallsend.
The Dankworth Seven would be high on any list I drew up of the best British bands.
When the small group folded Johnny introduced the first of his many big bands. I seem to recall his was the first band where each section wore different, very bright, coloured jackets.
Although he was a forward thinker the Dankworth bands always swung and bore comparison with any band anywhere.
Other memories I recall were of a Festival Hall concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra where he, and the band, performed a work by himself and Mattius Seiber 'Improvisations For Jazz Band & Symphony Orchestra'.
Another time at the Festival Hall the band backed the phenomenal trumpet player Maynard Ferguson whilst back in Newcastle he did the business at the City Hall behind Anita O'Day.
In the 1980s he fronted a quintet for a Channel 4 broadcast that included son Alec on bass. This was recorded at Newcastle University Theatre and was split with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
There were other concerts I attended although, unfortunately, I missed his last appearance at the Sage Gateshead Jazz Festival 2 years ago.
He was one of those people, like Ronnie Scott and Humph, who you think will be with us for ever but although he's gone the music will live on. I'm already reaching for some vinyl of those Esquire tracks by the Seven.
Sincere condolences to Dame Cleo, Jacqui and Alec Dankworth.
Sir John Dankworth died today (Feb 6) in hospital aged 82.

(Even) Better Than the Bridge! PAUL EDIS SEXTET – Jazz in the café at the Queen’s Hall Hexham. Friday Feb. 5

PAUL EDIS piano, ADAM SINCLAIR drums, PAUL SUSANS bass, GRAEME WILSON sax, GRAHAM HARDY trumpet/flugel, CHRIS HIBBARD trombone. My first time at this venue: it will not be the last – I commend it to you. “In the sticks”, yes, but, at 25 minutes drive from Chester-le-Street, hardly an odyssey!
With 50 – 60 people, plus musicians and staff it was standing-room only by 8.00 last night so be early if you want a table.
A full-house made for a good atmosphere – a kind of cross between Blaydon and The Cherry Tree. People clearly like to eat as part of the package and most were finishing eating at 7.30, when we arrived. It looked good – more cottage supper than haute cuisine but it required wifely restraint to keep me from trying the corned-beef pie, served in wedges you could chock a 147 with!
Friendly staff and good ales (Allendale beers in bottle) completed the picture. As I was driving, the ale, too, was off-limits. Shame! At 8.00, the lights dimmed and “Out of Nowhere” the band launched into exactly that and the applause which greeted solos by Graeme, Graham and Paul, showed that the audience know, and like, their jazz. “Ah,Um”, a Mingus-inspired original introduced a more baleful note and showcased Chris Hibbard on trombone as well as giving Adam and Paul Susans some space in the “fours”.
This was followed by Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” which, with a slow, mellow flugelhorn solo, lived up to the title. In contrast, “Black Orpheus” with trombone again to the fore (how expressive an instrument in the right hands!) built up in rhythm and volume to something akin to carnival firecrackers. They closed the set (where can you go after firecrackers?) with some “kamikaze jazz” (also used at the Bridge) – Graeme Wilson’s “Up Late”, with stomping crescendos and a clever finish: a musical exclamation mark! Again, as at the Bridge, the second set opened with “All the things you are(n’t)”, complete with fugue intro: a case of “Welcome Bach?” An aberrant mobile phone added a novel “obligato” at the end of the piece but the audience seemed to love it all.
Also very well received was Paul’s “suite” in four parts which, when premiered at the Bridge, was so fresh as to be still untitled – a defect which has now been remedied. Inspired by post pantomime stress disorder it is now fittingly entitled “It’s behind You!” – which title, apparently, was suggested by Adam Sinclair. And very good it was – even better than at the Bridge, the first and the last bass notes sandwiching 26 minutes (yes, I timed it) of varied moods and virtuoso playing.
The second and third sections (waltz and ballad?) best illustrate the variety with “Favourite Things” from the “Sound of Music” popping into my mind at times in the waltz, while the ballad took me back to Ellington’s mood from the first set. “Angular” featured more excellent solos most notably from Graham Hardy on trumpet and finished the night with upbeat humour sending the audience home happy. A special mention for Paul Susans (deputising at short notice for Mick Shoulder) who contributed much to the solid rhythm section as well as some solos and a key part in the suite. A really enjoyable gig: I would go back for more of the sextet and (given a lift) some pie, beer and Hexham hospitality!
Jerry Edis.

Friday, February 05, 2010

John Hallam & The Roly Veitch Quartet @ The Saville Exchange, North Shields.

John Hallam (clt/ten/bar), Jeremy McMurray (pno), Andy Champion (bs), Roly Veitch (gtr), John Hirst (dms).
When I was young(er) if someone had asked me to choose my dream concert line-up I may well have came up with; Artie Shaw's Gramercy 5, the Stan Getz Quartet/Quintet, the Gerry Mulligan Quartet and possibly a Benny Goodman small group.
Nobody ever did ask me and, although they are now all dead, tonight the dream came true in the form of John Hallam.
On a wet night in North Shields the somewhat less than capacity audience who braved the unpleasant conditions were rewarded with an evening of musical magic from Manchester's John Hallam and the local Roly Veitch Quartet.
Deep Purple and Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans - both had a Shavian fluency about them - the phrasing and, most of all the sound, were neo-Artie. Later John switched into Goodman mode for Stealing Apples.
On tenor he achieved the cool, without being cold, feel of Stan Getz. Whether on the uptempo Blues in the Closet or the almost sensuous take on A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square he conjured up an image of Getz's classic 50's small groups.
The same effect on baritone 'cept this time it was Gerry Mulligan who provided the inspiration. Line For Lyons, a few Ellington's including Love You Madly and I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart - all that was missing from this "Mulligan's Stew" was a Chet Baker vocal (wonder where we could have found one of those in this band?).
Behind John, the Roly Veitch Quartet provided not just the kind of support a strolling player needs but they also held their heads up high individually.
Roly, modest and restrained as ever, on his mildly miked-up Epiphone was the epitome of taste and tasty solo flights. Jeremy McMurray, this was his kind of gig and his solos proved it. Andy Champion - the jury returned on Andy a long time ago. The verdict was unanimous: 'guilty as charged of being one of the best bassists around.'
And on drums! John Hirst. A young man capable of crossing many genre and able to say more in his four bar exchanges than some others do in a ten minute solo.
This was an evening of sheer pleasure and a laudable attempt to introduce the Saville audience to jazz sans banjo.
Next month Daryl Sherman and Digby Fairweather.

Rosemary Squires Cancer Appeal Show

Forgive this rather bold approach but those who live within reasonable distance may like to know that, as a feature of her Diamond Anniversary in the business, there is to be 'An Audience with...LIFE IS A SONG' Rosemary's current touring show - as a Charity Matinee for the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Appeal at the Epsom Playhouse on Wednesday 21st April 2010 at 2.30pm. Tickets £10.50 from 01372 742555 or 742227.
So why not take a half day off work, get someone else to feed the cat, or whatever, and come along to a family afternoon of music and fun. Naturally she wants to maximise the benefit for this worthy charity.
However, should you be faint hearted or want to take the easy way out (joke!) then Liz Biddle of Upbeat Management, would be delighted to receive donations! (Liz by the way is not promoting this as an 'Agent' - on the contrary she is sponsoring at her own expense).
Donation Cheques should be made out to 'Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Registered Charity 1095197 and sent to Upbeat Management, Larg House, Woodcore Grove, Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 2QQ.
Though, if you can make it, Rosemary would much prefer to see you there if only for a chat after and, by the way, bring your neighbours and friends or, if you belong to any local organisation perhaps to publish details of this event in any newsletter, parish or church magazine etc.
Thank you,
Frank Lockyer (Husband and Manager)
PS:Please visit Rosemary's refurbished website @

Here There and Everywhere.

Truly a vintage night, tonight, with something for everyone so you pays your money and you makes your choice.
For discerning diners with an ear for piano jazz in a Buddist Monk mode (that's Bud Powell and Thelonious) that Stanley Steamer Harley Johnson plays solo at the Cherry Tree Restaurant in Jesmond.
Over at the Jazz Café on Newcastle's Pink Lane the Safe Sextet play their brand of hard bop whilst in North Shields, at the Saville Exchange, John Hallam is with the Roly Veitch Quartet.
Paradoxically, Mike Durham who is the guiding light behind the Saville's Jazz Program is himself performing at Gateshead Fell Cricket club with his West Jesmond Rhythm Kings.
Out in the sticks, the Paul Edis Sextet are at the Queens Hall, Hexham, and the TG Collective are at Hamsterley Village Hall.
That I had such a choice every night!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

River City Jazzmen R.I.P.

The sad news that the River City Jazzmen have finally called it a day brings to a close an era that, to my knowledge, ran for about 60 years.
Failing health and a shortage of stylistically compatable players have caused trombonist Gordon Solomon to finally say 'enough is enough'.
However, before it is too late I'd like to ask anyone, either players or fans, to mail me their memories and photos so we can put together a lasting memorial to the band.
For example, can anyone recall the names of the founder members?
Let's hear from you.
Extract from an article by Peter Gascoigne ca 1960s.
"...the River City Jazzmen are a team of fine musicians who are very much jazz-based, but also include a fair amount of comedy, both spoken and musically, in their programme. They run sessions at two pubs in Newcastle. One at the Bridge Hotel on Mondays, and one at the Corner House Hotel, just in the suburbs, on Wednesdays."


Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl/hca), Jim McBriarty (clt), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Tommy Graham (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
I had to miss The Chilli last night because I'd got The Fever. This morning, the ague had subsided but so had the lights on my automobile which meant a look under the bonnet. This of course brought the neighbours out in force each offering their own pearls of wisdom none of which proved to be very helpful. The problem, we decided was neither in the fuse box nor in the bulbs - after all two bulbs wouldn't go simultaneously would they?
Eventually, we gave up and I took it to a specialist in car electrics whose lair was within walking distance of Rosie Malone's where, as is their wont on Thursday afternoons, the Maine Street Jazzmen were strutting.
I managed half an hour in the company of Gosling the Guitar (ret.) and heard some good bouncy dixie on such numbers as "I'm Beginning to See The Light", "My Mother's Eyes" and "Swannee River" plus vocals from Olive on "Jeepers Creepers" (inc. the verse) as well as "Swing That Music".
This took things to the end of the first set wherupon my phone rang.
It was the car people.
My car was ready.
What was the problem?
Two bulbs had blown simultaneously!

Maureen Hall & Rendezvous Jazz @ Ashington Jazz Club. Feb3.

Maureen Hall, vocals, Barry Soulsby clt, Alan Smith tpt/flugel, Ian McCauley tromb, Bill College bass, Jim McEwen drums & Mac Smith piano.
Snow and tv football meant that numbers were down. It was quite understandable that our "travellers" did not risk it. By "travellers" I mean those from the likes of Cramlington, Morpeth and one guy who comes down from the Borders.
Maureen's established line up has been together for a while and, like good wine, gets better with age. A well thought out programme by Maureen meant that everyone was featured. Ian sang the old favourite Avalon, including his version of the lyric! Barry did The Old Bazaar in Cairo, which is a testing tongue twister. Maureen and Barry also did an appropriate duet - Ice Cream. What a smart turn out - black and silver music waistcoats no less.
They certainly delivered a great evening for the regular few.
John Taylor.

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