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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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Theatre by the Lake" in Keswick An evening with John Hallam and friends, featuring "Spats" Langham. March 21.

(Because it happened before the Gateshead Festival and arrived after the Festival Ray Robson's review of a concert at Keswick's "Theatre by the Lake" got buried. However, I've brought it forward so those who know Keswick can wallow in its pastoral tranquility and say "I wish I'd been there - maybe in May for the Keswick JF..." - Lance)
John Hallam (clt/sax), Thomas "Spats" Langham (gtr/bjo/vcl), Roy Cansdale (bass), Paul Adams (dms)
 Perhaps a long way to travel from Newcastle to listen to Jazz, but an excellent Sunday lunch at The Sportsman In Laversdale on the way plus the thought of listening to two such accomplished musicians as John Hallam and Spats Langham inspired us to make that journey.
And it was well worth the effort!
A full house in the fairly atmospheric studio was entertained initially by the humorous intro of Paul Adams and the thought that not only were the band being filmed, so were we the audience, for a musical promotion of some sort. However thoughts of stardom were quickly forgotten when the jazz began ...
The superb playing of John Hallam on clarinet and sax was mixed admirably with Spats' marvelous guitar playing, accompanied by excellent rhythm work by Roy and Paul.   Spats sang vocals on a few tracks, in that inimitable "twenties" style he so personifies - ah,  you could close your eyes and go back in time ...
Add a couple of banjo solos from Spats which were well received, and all of a sudden the night had flown over, it always seems to when you are enjoying yourself ...
There are other events at the "Theatre" as part of the Keswick Jazz Festival, Sun 9 to Wed 12 May, well worth a visit, especially the "Evans-Hallam Magic Five", we saw this "new" band at Jan Grasmere Jazz weekend, and they just blew us away... John H is joined by James Evans (both on reeds) with superb pianist Tom Kincaide and 3 great rhythm guys.
Ray Robson.

You might want to watch BBC4 on Friday evening...

20:00 From Russia with Love1/8. Charting the evolution of popular music, starting with the sounds of 20s and 30s America.(R) 
20:50 Astaire and Rogers Sing George and Ira Gershwin. Songs written by brothers George and Ira Gershwin for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. (R) 
21:00... Sings the Great American Songbook. Artists performing their interpretations of tracks from The Great American Songbook. 
22:00 Arena - Frank Sinatra.
23:35 Judy, Frank and Dean. Legendary TV concert film featuring Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. (R).
Re-shown in the early hours.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kairos 4tet - Schmazz @ The Cluny.

Adam Waldmann (sop/ten), Ivo Neame (keys), Jasper Hoiby (bs), Jon Scott (dms).
On the plus side I stayed until the death which I don't always manage at Schmazz gigs. Sometimes when I hear the more contemporary sounds associated with Schmazz gigs I feel the parade has passed me by!
Tonight, however, the music was within the bounds of comprehension.
Good players all although I would have liked to hear more tenor from Waldmann - Adam gets a good sound on the instrument. Still his soprano playing was okay, facile and creative. 
On keys, Neame had some monumental flights likewise Jasper the Bass and drummer Scott.
Four great musicians, excellent  original compositions yet... ...somehow it didn't totally gel for me.
On a non-musical note and this is a crit that applies to many local bands - is it really necessary to introduce the band five times during a gig?
On another, more sombre note, Paul Bream announced that Schmazz has lost its supportive grant from the Arts Council...

Ruth Lambert Quintet @ Queen's Hall Hexham this Thursday April 1 - No foolin'!

Just received some news straight from the horse's mouth - i.e that fine vocal thoroughbred Ruth Lambert - that she is in concert with her quintet this Thursday April 1 at Queen's Hall Hexham.
The quintet comprises, Ruth (vcl), Graeme Wilson (ten), Paul Edis (pno), Neil Harland (bs) and Tim Johnston (dms).
Start 8:00 pm.

Farewell Herb Ellis - Aged 88.

Sad to hear, once again via LondonJazz, of the death of Herb Ellis pictured left at Newcastle Playhouse in 1984. Herb visited Newcastle frequently. First with Oscar Peterson and Jazz At The Phil then with Peterson and Ella. He also came with the Great Guitars package which included Barney Kessel and Charlie Byrd.
A great player capable of playing in a variety of styles but at his best in a trio setting where his melodic scope and harmonic knowledge was shown at its creative best.
Herb Ellis died March 28 in Los Angeles.

Tonight Schmazz @ The Cluny - Kairos 4tet/Big Band @ Ryton/1954 Band @ Customs House

Tonight looks good at the Cluny for the latest Schmazz gig. The Kairos4tet are more accessible than some of the Schmazz offerings and I personally am looking forward to hearing them live. If you're not sure, check them out on MySpace. Click here. Listen to Russell's Resurgence. I don't think this refers to our boy Russell as, as far as I know, he resurged long ago. 8:30 pm.
The Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert are charitying at Ryton Comp. School in aid of MS. 7:30 pm £5.
At the Customs House itself in South Shields, the 1954 Band pay tribute to Ken Colyer and Chris Barber.
7:30 is the time to stomp off and it's £10 (£9 conc.) there is also a meal deal at £19 which gives you two food courses plus the concert.

Reflecting on the Festival

It was a great weekend no doubt about it and Gateshead Council, The Sage and promoters SERIOUS are to be congratulated for putting it all together.
The exposure given to young local musicians must surely have had a beneficial effect on them and hopefully, in years to come they themselves will be in Halls One or Two - just practice man practice.
The only disturbing thing for me was, where does the audiences who flock to the Sage concerts in their numbers hang out for the rest of the year? Why are they not seen at the local pub/club gigs?
Is it a snob thing? Who knows? What I and others in the jazz world know is that, like in sport, you need support at grass roots level to create the superstars or is it now a case of Music College to Sage bypassing the club scene?
However, I digress - Rhapsody In Blue is still uppermost in my mind - phew!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Zoe and Andy Spice it up on Wednesday.

Our favourite voice and bass duo - Zoe Gilby and Andy Champion are on at The Spice of Life, Cambridge Circus, London, this coming Wednesday March 31. Catch them if you can they're a great duo and the Spice is my favourite London Jazz venue.
Which brings me to remark that the last time I was there was the day after I attended the Ian Carr Memorial Concert which I'm told raised £7,000 for the Alzeimers' Society.
A worthy sum for a worthy cause.

Saturday at the Sage Gateshead Jazz festival Gwilym Simcock and Massed Voices

‘I Prefer The Gorgeous Freedom’ 
The main item of this concert was the large, black–clad, community choir singing this piece,’I prefer the Gorgeous Freedom’ which was a blend of classical and jazz themes on the concept of freedom.  The piece was beautifully sung and accompanied by Gwilym Simcock’s Quartet - Gwilym (piano), Klaus Gesing (sop/bs clt), Yuri Gouloubev (double bass) and James Maddren (drums).  But I suspect that ardent jazz fans would probably have enjoyed the first item of the concert best, which was an extended original piece of exciting playing. This began with the lyrical piano and gently brushed drums and after an effective build-up and climax, returned to the same quiet satisfying ending. 
The rest of the concert, all on the theme of freedom, included a piece written by an internee at Guantanamo Bay, two poems set to music and a spiritual.  The Guantanamo piece was very dark, with brooding sax and sinister drumming which reminded me of the drip of water you’d expect to hear in a torture camp, or the tramp of boots.  I enjoyed the two poem pieces, which were settings of Yeats ‘Isle of Innisfree’ (back to my schooldays) and of ‘No Rack can torture me’ by eccentric 19th Century American poet Emily Dickinson.  The Yeats was very effectively sung by a female solo voice in a folky style.  The spiritual would be recognised by all television watchers as the theme tune of the film review programme, Billy Taylor's ‘Freedon Song’ (‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’). 
All told, this was an enjoyable afternoon’s concert, but hardened jazz fans may have had reservations.  For myself as a jazz beginner and a sometime singer, it was a great afternoon.
Ann Alexander.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Splinter Group - Splinter @ The Bridge. A brief review by J and K.

You missed one of the best nights ever at The Bridge. Never have so few been as fantastically, excitingly entertained by so many.
Solos to lift you out of your seat and all music written by band members.
John and Kathy.

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra - Gateshead Jazz Festival

Tommy Smith, Konrad Wiszniewski, Paul Towndrow, Martin Kershaw, Bill Fleming (saxes). Ryan Quigley, Cameron Jay, Richard Iles, Tom MacNiven (tpts). Chris Grieve, Phil O'Malley, Michael Owers, Lorna McDonald (tmbs). Brian Kellock (pno), Graeme Scott (gtr), Calum Gourlay (bs), Alyn Cosker (dms).
Picture left is by official Sage photographer Mark Savage and is not for use in events unrelated to The Sage.
Most people that I spoke to, including myself - yes I talk to myself - had reservations about the wisdom of including Rhapsody in Blue in a jazz festival programme. The same people probably questioned the validity of last years pairing of Guy Barker with the Northern Sinfonia and look how wrong they proved to be!
Ah yes! they exclaim but that concert was Duke Ellington based - a man of much greater jazz credibility than George Gershwin.
Enter Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and, after Tommy had paid a moving tribute to the late Chris Yates, the band struck up and all misgivings were blown away.
This was, quite simply, the finest big band concert I'd ever been to since those Halcyon days when Basie, Ellington, Kenton or Herman seemed to be forever here.
This was no bravura performance by Oscar Levant but featured Brian Kellock who took Gershwin's tune down some mean streets that George didn't know existed.
And, unlike the original, Tommy Smith's arrangement opened it up to a host of soloists including himself who let rip at least thrice. There was an amazing trumpet battle between Ryan Quigley and, I think, Tom MacNiven (actually Cameron Jay!). This was mind-blowing - JATP plays Rhapsody in Blue. For me Ryan and Paul Towndrow were the undoubted number ones of The Festival appearing in so many different settings.
But great as all the soloists were - Konrad Wiszniewski (ten), Martin Kershaw (alto) also had extended moments as did a couple of trombones - it was the writing that did it.
So varied and imaginative - at one stage a mambo-like rhythm lifted the tension to such an almost unbelievable high I wanted to jump into the aisles and shout "OO!"
Follow that next year Roz!
Talking about 'following that' - the second set tribute to Buddy Rich proved to be slightly anti-climatic -  Buddy's band at its height would have been hard-pushed to follow what had gone on previous. This is no disrespect to Cosker as Alyn is no mean drummer himself but, for me, I suppose it was the familiarity with the originals - every school, youth, rehearsal band in the country plays Love For Sale - and nothing new was really added. Likewise Buddy himself did West Side Story to death so although it was all done immaculately it proved to be a downer after Rhapsody.
But nevertheless, on the strength of that first half alone, this concert will remain in my head for years to come...

Meanwhile, on the Concourse...

Of course all the action wasn't confined to the concert halls. Some of the best things occurred on the Concourse where one could eat, drink or just listen to some of our better local performers.
Pictured left are the combatants (!) in the vocal invention performance. This was bizarre to say the least but entertaining and good fun for the performers and audience alike.

I'd nipped over to the Hilton to catch the set by Zoe Gilby and Andy Champion but coincided with their interval which was a very nice interval - minor seventh -then returned to the Concourse where our other great diva Ruth Lambert along with Paul Gamblin (gtr) and Paul Susans (bs) were strutting their stuff.
Time After Time, Easy Street, Beautiful Love, My Heart Stood Still just some of the gems.

The Sage's own youth band Jambone rounded off the afternoon fronted by mentors Ryan Quigley and Paul Towndrow.
This was a tremendous set that set the pattern for the evening concert by the SNJO to follow. Needless to say the two mentors were in top form but so also was our boy Harley Johnson on piano and Loretta from Egglescliffe School on tenor plus some others whose names I missed.
Great band - awful shirts!
(With apologies to those bands/performers I've missed out.)

The Raymond Scott Experience - the Stu Brown Sextet.

This was an oddity - a mainly pleasant oddity. The Raymond Scott Sextet was a quirky little band popular in the 1930s. Their music bore a superficial resemblance to the John Kirby Sextet but without the innate jazz credentials of the latter. Nevertheless, they were tuneful and much of their music was infectious - not least because of the titles: War Dance of the Wooden Indians, Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals, New Years Eve in a Haunted House etc.
From my seat in the stalls of Hall Two I watched clips of a forthcoming documentary on Scott by his son, Stan Warnow, who introduced the concert. The clips faded and the stage lights came up to reveal the Stu Brown Sextet who then went into some of Scott's original scores playing it absolutely authentically.
There were more clips this time of  Looney Tunes cartoons of which Raymond Scott provided the background music plus a slide compilation of drawings by schoolchildren who had drawn them as a reaction to the music played.
The Stu Brown Sextet played their contemporary versions of Scott classics and, as Scott was a pioneering force in developing musical electronics so the sextet did likewise.
One doomy theme played on a 'Wind Synthesiser' was commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council - why wasn't I surprised?
Still it was an enjoyable couple of hours of escapism that drew attention to the memory of a largely forgotten figure.

Artistry in Pastels

Among the highlights of this years Festival are the the wall displays of paintings by Gina Southgate done last year live at the On The Outside Festival at Gateshead Old Town Hall.
Stunning, imaginative, accessible images of improvisers on stage and now on canvas.

RIP Diz Disley & Kenny Baldock.

LondonJazz reports the deaths on the same day, March 22nd, of two stalwarts of the British jazz scene, both of whom were born in 1931.

Diz Disley was a well known figure in the north-east mainly through his association and friendship with local trombonist Ronnie McLean who worked with Disley in Dusseldorff back in the 1950s.
In fact Diz was playing with Ronnie's band at Newcastle's New Orleans Club the night the police raided it and subsequently closed it down. Not that this was anything to do with Disley - some irregularity in the liquor licence I think.
He was frequently 'up north' with Stephane Grappelli and can be seen in the photo - the guitarist on the left is a young Martin Taylor.
Kenny Baldock was one of those unsung heroes who went through his career providing a solid foundation for just about every modernist of note. Happy memories of hearing him many times and places from the old Flamingo Club in London to Newcastle's Corner House.

Abdullah Ibrahim's Ekaya @ The Gateshead Jazz Festival

Abdullah Ibrahim piano; Belden Bullock bass; George Graydrums;Cleave Guyton alto sax; Keith Loftis tenor sax; Andrae Murchison trombone; Jason Marshall baritone sax.
I came in on a high from the previous two concerts (Brass Jaw and Jason Yarde with VOTNJO) this was to be the icing on the cake - and it was. The only trouble being that there was too much icing and not enough cake.
It all began with Abdullah playing beautifully and serene. One of the signs of a good pianist, jazz or otherwise, is in the touch - the feeling that is created when fingers hit keys. Abdullah has that.
Bass and drums joined him and added their own ingredients to the mix. The result still beautifully serene.
On came the horns and I thought that now we're going to get that infectious swing the program notes referred to.
Instead it was rich harmonies that drew up pastoral images and so, for the first hour of this two hour, uninterrupted, concert the tapestry unfolded - beautiful and serene.
I began to feel restless. True that, in this sea of tranquillity, there were a couple of suggestions of turbulence when the tempo upped and the horns were let loose but they were small islands and it soon returned to the neo-funereal.
This was a unique experience for me. Never before have I heard so much beautiful music yet left without a spring to my step.
It was left to Gerry Richardson's Big Idea to do that afterwards in the Northern Rock Foundation Hall.
Sadly, I could only stay for a couple of numbers as the Metro beckoned but nevertheless, they gave me the uplift I needed.

Afternoon Delights @ The Gateshead Jazz Festival

Where do I begin - there were so many? Well, Jason Yarde (pictured left) with the Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra was one. He blew up a storm on alto and soprano and the VOTNJO were with him every bar of the way. In particular, Adrian Tilbrook excelled.
Tremendous set.
Prior to Jason and the VOTNJO I'd caught BRASS JAW at the Gateshead Heritage Centre which is actually the former St Mary's Church.
This was the gig of them all to date!
Ryan Quigley (tpt), Paul Towndrow (alt), Konrad Wisniewski (ten) and Allan Beauvoisin (bar).
The program mixed originals with piece's like Sting's Walkin' on the Moon, Cedar Walton's Bolivia and a balladic Falling in Love All Over Again.
This latter number had Paul at his most rhapsodic verging on the Johnny Hodges meets Freddy Gardner - sumptuous.
Ryan was marvellous - if he'd been around in Joshua's time the wall's of Jericho would have come tumbling down without any help.
Likewise the other two saxes - tremendous.
Apart from the music there was also improvised choreography as the quartet wandered around the former church in different directions making the most of the magnificent acoustics. Loved every minute of it.
In the Jazz Lounge I heard, Horn Dogs and Extreme Measures both of whom were superb whilst on the concourse the Kettle Quartet, for me, got the nod.
PS: Still pondering on Abdullah Ibrahim. So, for the moment, I'll just say that the audience loved him.
Picture bottom left of Brass Jaw is by official Sage photographer Mark Savage and is not for use in events unrelated to The Sage.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

VOTNJO with Jason Yarde at the Sage Gateshead Jazz Festival.

Well-known standards apart, I always feel inadequate commenting on jazz performances as I lack the necessary critical vocabulary and knowledge of the genre. But, to adapt a well-known saying,: I know nothing about jazz, but I know what I like. And last night’s VOTNJO/Jason Yarde gig, I loved!
      I had not heard of, or heard, Jason Yarde before (all right, I’ve admitted my ignorance already!) but I will remember the name now! His performance on sax, his amazing compositions and his hyperactive stage-presence, made for a memorable evening. 
His pre-concert talk had mentioned diverse influences such as hip-hop, reggae and (his parents’) James Brown, and the pieces performed reflected that variety. Jason also explained that, when composing for big bands, he liked to motivate and “engage” all the individual musicians by ensuring that there was something challenging or a bit different for them to tackle at some point in each piece: no slouching back in the “comfort-zone” a large group might otherwise encourage. This too was evident on stage where the musicians were, at times, visibly on tenterhooks but, at the same time, thoroughly enjoying every moment as the time flew by. The talk also shed light on the aforementioned hyperactive stage-presence: although loving classical music, Jason did not fancy the “conservatoire” approach as a student and opted, instead, for a performance arts course where other disciplines – dance especially – came into play. No wonder, as a conductor, he makes Izzy Barratt look immobile!
      I enjoyed the shorter pieces (the first, I think, was called “Tag”) which preceded the main course – the suite (apologies, Lance, if that sounds like a gastronomic paradox!), “Four letter words for four letters heard”. These gave a flavour of what was to come with varied rhythms and changes of volume (full volume was mighty impressive in the superb acoustics of the hall!) and some great sax playing by Jason himself. In the suite, Jason the sax-player gave way, for the most part to Jason the conductor, but the band ensured that no vacuum was left in the music. It was all powerful stuff with many excellent solos on trombone, trumpet and various saxophones. Outstanding, for me, was the section where Sue Ferris had a long flute solo – maybe because it brought back memories of when our house was seldom without some solo flute on the go! A cack-handed compliment, perhaps, from a self-confessed ignoramus, but Andy Champion seems to get better and better every time I hear him, as well. I also liked the part where all but the rhythm section downed tools and clapped (rhythmically), which typified, for me, the “fun” nature of the whole performance.
      I can’t wait to hear more! 
     Jerry Edis.

Unprogrammed Jazz Festival Event This Morning.

11:00 AM. Hall Two. GUY BARKER relates his memories of the late SIR JOHN DANKWORTH to ALYN SHIPTON.

Friday, March 26, 2010


The evening started with the best of intentions. Rather than go to see the Stan Tracey Octet with all the serious jazz fans I know, I took my family to see Jerry Dammers and the Spatial AKA Orchestra. The  five star review in The Guardian had promised an accessible mixture of jazz, ska and reggae, ideal for the jazz resistant men in my life. 
Well the concert started with ‘After The End of the World’ and went down from there. Too many songs were based on repetitive, monotonous grooves, with the undoubtedly talented musicians occasionally released for solos, with their attempts to releave the tedium occasionally resulting in ear splitting self-indulgence. Quite often, this was followed by the rest of the band joining in to create a cacophonous conclusion, which I quite liked the first time round, but then it got predictable. 
There was no subtlety, even Ghost Town was too slow, and the Batman Theme was ponderous. So many talented jazz musicians grossly underused.  After a long evening, it was quite a relief to hear we’d got to the last number Space Is The Place. Maybe we’ll get some interesting lyrics, I vainly hoped. Actually those were the entire lyrics, continually repeated for around 15 minutes, when the musicians eventually left the stage and carried on playing in the concourse. By the time we left, most of them were lying on the floor still grooving  with ‘Space Is The Place’ around the Sun Ra-like Denys Baptiste. 
They really should have made the effort to develop the song into something more meaningful. I managed it in a few seconds in the car on the way home. 
Space is the place. It’s in your face. What  a ...
Pictures above are by official Sage photographer Mark Savage and are not for use in events unrelated to The Sage.

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Stan Tracey Octet

Guy Barker (tpt), Mark Nightingale (tmb), Sammy Mayne (alt), Mornington Lockett (ten/sop), Simon Allen (ten), Stan Tracey (pno), Andy Cleyndert (bs), Clark Tracey (dms).
I've always thought the octet to be the ideal setting for Stan Tracey and tonight's concert didn't prove me wrong.
With a veritable A-team line-up on stage a crowded Hall Two audience showed their enthusiasm unreservedly and, deservedly so.
It was a game of two halves with the first set based around his Hong Kong Suite and the second the Amandia Suite.
Both were superb works showing the soloists off to perfection. All 3 saxes played their butt off but Mark Nightingale was slightly under-miked in the first set. He made up for it in the second.
Guy Barker played some nice things whilst Andy Cleyndert was a tower of strength on bass. On drums, Tracey fils drove things along without being over-bearing as well as soloing with his usual dexterity.
As for his dad, Stan played very little solowise but what he did came across as meaningful whilst his comping gave the soloists a cushion to blow on
The Amandia Suite was a rather strange idea being commissioned by NALGO to celebrate the union merging with UNISON. I'm led to believe NALGO Gruppenfuhrer at the time, Paul Bream, was behind the decision to approach Stan Tracey and it certainly paid off with some exciting ensembles, riveting solos  and interesting themes.
The crowd demanded more and they got it in the form of a quick blast and a couple of choruses all round on Blue Monk
They won't come much better than this.
Earlier, Alyn Shipton had interviewed Stan on his life in jazz which included a long stint as the house pianist at Ronnie Scott's backing a wide range of visiting Americans. He also revealed that he had a lot of time and admiration for Acker Bilk which probably surprised a few people.
The Festival opened with a percussion ensemble - Principle 3 - doing some lively latin things.
They were popular and gave off good vibes for what was to follow.
Click here for weekend programme in full.

Ray Chester Big Band @ Mill View Social Club, Fulwell, Sunderland. March 25th.

Woody Herman's Apple Honey heralded the arrival of Ray Chester's Big Band at Mill View Social Club. 
The first few bars confirmed the gold chip credentials of one of the north east's longest running big bands. 
A programme of George Gershwin and Glenn Miller formed the centrepiece of the evening's entertainment. Gershwin's Nice Work If You Can Get It  and Somebody Loves Me were heard in the first set (vocalist Mia Webb added a touch of class to these tunes and others) as were Miller's Little Brown Jug and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, the latter with the added vocal attraction of the fabulous Fenner Sisters. 
If you haven't seen and heard this vocal trio (and yes they are sisters) think the Boswells or Andrews Sisters and you will have some idea of just how good they are. 
Henry Mancini's Days of Wine and Roses was a feature for tenor saxophonist John Hudson, Mia Webb sang the mambo Sway and was followed by the Fabulous Fenners who told us that they were Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself (Themselves!) a Letter and then they decided to Straighten Up and Fly Right
The first set concluded with a Ted Heath arrangement of An Ilkley Moor Baht 'at - the band sections being heard to great effect. 
A protracted interval - it was bingo night - allowed for the supping of much Guinness at the bargain price of £2.00.a pint. 
Another Ted Heath arrangement - Gershwin's Strike Up the Band - rallied the troops from the bar for the start of the second set. 
Frim Fram Sauce and Night and Day required the services once more of Mia Webb with Dave Hignett blowing good trumpet on the latter. Mr.Chester announced another Glenn Miller number - St.Louis Blues March - which had not, the bandleader explained, been played by the band for a long time. Jill Brett played some good alto on this one and the section work was top drawer. 
Gershwin's Embraceable You featured Ms.Webb with Keith Norris crafting a beautifully paced trombone solo. Stalwart 'bones man Don Fairley stepped into the spotlight on I Got Rhythm. The tunes came thick and fast - Pennsylvania 6500 (Dave Hignett excelling on trumpet), In the Mood (the Fenners also excelling!), Apple Blossom Time, Charlie Barnet's Skyliner (Chester on trombone) and others. 
A great night of classic big band sounds won an encore and it was Count Basie (or was it Colin Haikney?) who sent us on our way with One O' Clock Jump

The vocalists were plagued by failing radio microphones during the performance - to their credit they didn't miss a beat, professional to the last. The proceeds of the raffle went to St.Benedict's Hospice.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maine Street Jazzmen @ Rosie's (Rosie Malone's, South Shields.)

Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl/hca), Jim McBriarty (clt/vcl), Alan Rudd (bs), Mike Humble (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
I was half expecting Jack Parnell to turn up this week but Eric (Delaney) mustn't have spread the word! Nevertheless, there was a good crowd in and we did have a different drummer in the form of Mike Humble. He did good.
Jim McBriarty, still on a high from last night's big band gig, played immaculate clarinet and sang Nobody's Sweetheart - shades of Whispering Jack Smith only louder.
Olive, dare I say it,? is becoming a tad predictable in her choice of numbers these days. They are, of course, sung beautifully, in particular It Had To Be You, but it would be nice to be surprised now and then - there goes my chance of ever winning the raffle again!
Ray Harley was blowing like there's no tomorrow - today - and he was on top form hitting every note on the button.
All in all a splendid afternoon.
PS: A well known local guitarist bought me a drink. GG, as I will refer to him as, has a Hagstrom D'Aquisto.  arch-topped oval holed guitar that is looking to enhance some suitable ensemble...

Vieux Carre Jazzmen @ The Newton Park, Benton. March 24th.

Brian Bennett (banjo & vocals), Fred Rowe (trumpet & vocals), Lawrence McBriarty (trombone), Roger Myerscough (clarinet,  baritone sax & vocals), Fred Thompson (drums & vocals) & Brian Sibbald (double bass).
The Vieux Carre Jazzmen invited Roger Myerscough 'up north' to play a couple of gigs at the refurbished Newton Park public house last night and tonight at the Marquis of Granby in Sunniside. 
The Newton was doing a roaring trade as I arrived (the pub has been transformed into a very successful food operation) and the Vieux Carré's regular band of Monday night supporters abandoned the Corner House to follow Mr. Bennett & co. to this new jazz venue (I say 'new' venue but more of that later). 
A pint of Greene King's Abbot Ale in hand, I was in the company of other regular jazzers, as the band took to the stand. I Can't Give You Anything But Love Baby, Buona Sera and King Oliver's Jackass Blues (good clarinet from Myerscoughwere but a few of the tunes in an entertaining first set
Raffle done (nearly a winner!), the second set started with a favourite - Bill Bailey followed by It's a Long Way to Tipperary and others. Fred Rowe took a good vocal on Shine and in no time it was Goin' Home time (11:00 PM). 
On the subject of jazz at the Newton Park...I'm sure that many moons ago I heard the Alan Glen Complex in this very pub. Can anyone confirm AG did actually play at the pub? Were you there?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert @ Customs House, South Shields. March 24

Peter Morgan (md/tmb), Ken de Vere, Gordon Marshall, Michael Lamb, Simon Dennis, Paul Riley-Gledhill (tpts), Chris Gurgit-Smith, Mike Fletcher, Gareth Weaver (tmbs), Jill Brett (alt/flt), Elaine Willis (alt/clt), Alan Marshall, Jim McBriarty (ten), Chris Atkinson (bar), Bill Britain (pno), John Lowe (bs), Roy Willis (gtr), Ian Wynd (dms), Ruth Lambert (vcl).

All I can do is reiterate Russell's comments from last night - albeit I don't share his apathy towards Glenn Miller, possibly because In The Mood was the first record I ever bought and it sent me on this wonderful journey that took over the rest of my life!

What Russell didn't mention was that Jim McBriarty had nice solos on Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue and I've Found a New Baby or that trumpets Lamb and Dennis also blew well. The trumpet section tonight, incidentally, was filled out by Gordon Marshall.
Stardust didn't bother me and I applaud the attempt to present it differently  Artie Shaw still rules on that one though.
What did knock me out was the rich and lush arrangement of Warm Feeling - it had just that!
And Ruth! As well as the numbers Russell enthused about, our girl also did Love is Here To Stay, Bewitched, Night and Day, The Man I Love and a knock-out version of Time After Time where her jazz qualities really took hold.
Excellent concert although not the full house it deserved.
PS: I agree - Jill was exceptional.
Customs House Big Band website.

Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert @ Customs House, South Shields. March 23.

The South Tyneside based big band played the first of two nights at the Customs House in front of a three quarters full auditorium.
Led by Peter Morgan, the band ran through a familiar set of big band charts opening with a Glenn Miller number (please, no more Miller!), then some good stuff - Here's That Rainy Day, Witchcraft and, with the introduction of Ruth Lambert, we heard Come Fly with Me and Blue Moon.
Ms. Lambert was in fine voice soaring effortlessly above the band, her natural jazz phrasing kept in check - to a degree.
After our vocalist departed the stage for a change of costume in readiness for her next set, the band played a funk version of Stardust that didn't quite work - Stardust is Stardust - best left alone. I Got Rhythm - a feature for trombonist Gurgit-Smith - did work - somehow it always does.
The interval allowed just enough time for a pint of Young's Kew in the Steamboat (South Tyneside's CAMRA Pub of the Year - yet again).
Back at the Customs House, Jazz Police, a tune by Gordon Goodwin (of Big Phat fame), was a steamer - just the sort of tune to launch the second set on the right course.
Temperatures rose a degree or two with the re-introduction of Ruth Lambert. Black Coffee encapsulated Ruth's ability to deliver a lyric in a low, then high register, in a single line. Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend was fun and the evening's entertainment drew to a close with, as an encore, Groovin' Hard.
MD Peter Morgan was good value - a comic entertainer in his own right. The rhythm section was rock solid from the off with new boy Jack Lowe acquitting himself well on double bass and electric bass. Alan Marshall took most of the tenor solos. The star performer on the night (together with Wor Ruth) was alto saxophonist Jill Brett who contributed two or three well-crafted solos.
Hear the band do it all again tonight (Wednesday 24th) at the same venue. In the autumn the orchestra will present a concert of show tunes. It is to be hoped this will be a selection from the Golden Era (whenever that was). Please, as with Glenn Miller, no Andrew Lloyd Webber!


Tonight at the Customs House - Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert

It is night 2 of the Customs House Big Band's gig at the - wait for it - Customs House and, having heard some of their rehearsals I know what a cracking night I'm in for. this really is a band you must hear and tonight is your last opportunity for a few weeks.
With Ruth Lambert doing the vocals you know it will be a memorable evening so don't miss out.
7:30 pm start - £10/£8/£7.

Tom Sawyer in Tenerife

Back from 11 days in Tenerife. Didn't expect to find any jazz but got several surprises. At lunch time each day the local Spanish Radio 3 put on an excellent jazz program featuring all styles and always a comprehensive list of the artists.
As usual the entertainment in the hotel was limited to bingo, a keyboard player doing "Oompah" music for the Germans.
There was also a guy who we called Tommy the Trumpeter who stood and played keyboards and sang or played trumpet at the same time. He did quite a good job of "Wonderful World" and "We have all the time in the world".
I know you are now part of the Jazz Clubs of the World site - but I found a venue that slipped through the net.
Music concerts are held in Puerto de la Cruz every 2 weeks by the Canaries Foundation (see program).
Last Saturday night 5 euros found me in a nice venue with approx 100 other ageing European holidaymakers. The band were all young Spanish guys - and, despite the name - the Tom Sawyer Dixieland Band - there was no Tom Sawyer. It was all a bit clinical. They were classically trained and played from the copy. The (curved) soprano player blew with a nice tone, sometimes like a clarinet on the likes of High Society. For me the real plus was the fact that drummer did not have a full kit with him. His side drum and cymbal playing was great. In 50 years time will this by the type of jazz people will be listening to?
Please note Tiger with no Rag and only one Saint etc
Mark Twain a.k.a. John Taylor.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gateshead International Jazz Festival Preview - Abdullah Ibrahim

What more info do you need!?
Saturday 27 March 2010
The Sage Gateshead - Hall One St. Mary's Square,, Gateshead Quays Gateshead NE8 2JR 0191 443 4661 Visit Site
£19.50 + bkg

A symbol of South Africa’s rich musical heritage and its political struggles, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has created a distinctive sound, combining the rich harmonies and traditions of South Africa’s township music with the openness and creativity of jazz. From luminous, gospel-like anthems to hypnotic rhythmic vamps, his music is melodic, approachable and absolutely compelling. In this one-off performance, the great pianist brings his seven-piece band Ekaya to the UK for the first time in many years, playing material from landmark albums such as African River and Capetown Flowers.

People don't like Abdullah Ibrahim, they adore him, bestowing on him the devotion normally reserved for Nina Simone. When he plays, melodies tumble out effortlessly, as he slides from theme to theme like a laid-back South African reincarnation of Thelonious Monk.” The Guardian

Abdullah Ibrahim piano; Belden Bullock bass; George Gray drums;Cleave Guyton alto sax; Keith Loftis tenor sax; Andrae Murchison trombone; Jason Marshall baritone sax.
Can't wait!

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