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Bebop Spoken There

Charles McPherson: “Jazz is best heard in intimate places”. (DownBeat, July, 2024).

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.


16590 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 483 of them this year alone and, so far, 29 this month (July 14).

From This Moment On ...


Sun 21: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 21: Salty Dog @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm.
Sun 21: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free. Sun 21: The Big Easy @ The White Room, Stanley. 5:00pm.
Sun 21: Ben Crosland Quartet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 22: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 23: Nomade Swing Trio @ Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. 7:30pm. £10.00. Tickets from Tully’s of Rothbury or at the door (cash only). A Coquetdale Jazz event.

Wed 24: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 24: Nomade Swing Trio @ Café Needles Eye, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. 6:00pm. Reservations: 01670 641224.
Wed 24: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 24: The Ronnie Scott’s Story @ The Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Wed 24: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 24: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.

Thu 25: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Garry Hadfield (keys); Noel Dennis (tpt); Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Adrian Beadnell (bass).
Thu 25: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.

Fri 26: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 26: Bailiwick + Sleep Suppressor + Christie/Chan @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors 6:30pm). ‘Experimental evening of jazz, punk and jazz-punk’.
Fri 26: Nomade Swing Trio @ Repas7 by Night, Berwick. 7:30pm. Free.
Fri 26: Stuart Turner @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Fri 26: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Fri 26: Bold Big Band @ Old Coal Yard, Byker, Newcastle. 9:30pm. A Newcastle Fringe Festival event.

Sat 27: BBC Proms: BBC Introducing stage @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 12 noon. Free. Line-up inc. Abbie Finn Trio (2:50pm); Dilutey Juice (3:50pm); SwanNek (5:00pm); Rivkala (6:00pm).
Sat 27: Nomade Swing Trio @ Billy Bootlegger’s, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sat 27: Mississippi Dreamboats @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sat 27: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Sat 27: Theon Cross + Knats @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 10:00pm. £22.00. BBC Proms: BBC Introducing Stage (Sage Two). A late night gig.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Schmazz @ The Cluny: More on Troyka & Corey Mwamba Trio. Tuesday 29th June.

Troyka: Chris Montague (guitar), Kit Downes (organ) & Joshua Blackmore (drums)
Troyka, the current big noise on the contemporary jazz scene, arrived in the Ouseburn Delta to be greeted by an enthusiastic and sizeable crowd on another sweltering evening in Newcastle. Local lad Chris Montague has the right credentials to be a top-flight left-field guitarist: he hails from Gateshead and his name is Chris. Seemingly the Borough of Gateshead breeds such wizards of the fretboard - Chris (trio VD, Acoustic Ladyland, Spelk) Sharkey being another. It is an indication of Montague's standing that he can call upon in-demand players such as Downes and Blackmore to play material largely his own. The material was wide-ranging: delicate sketches, drum 'n' bass workouts and a magical blues number entitled Crawler. The latter number, to feature on the band's soon to be recorded second CD, demonstrated Montague's prodigious technique allied to exquisite touch and a real feeling for a blues.
Corey Mwamba Trio: Corey Mwamba (vibraphone), Dave Kane (double bass) & Joshua Blackmore (drums)
Corey Mwamba is, apparently, a self-taught vibes player. Having witnessed his playing it is hard to believe that he could play as he did - that of a virtuoso. Mwamba was joined for this, his first performance on Tyneside, by bassist Dave Kane and drummer Joshua Blackmore - both well known to north east audiences. Yes, Blackmore was on double-time having played the first set with Troyka. This set had an acoustic feel - on occasion Double Time Blackmore used brushes and hurried thing along with some double-time passages. Kane bowed (and scraped!), then slapped, then from time to time took a line for a walk. Mwamba played with two, then four, then six mallets - impressive stuff, lyrical and swinging. Those readers who know of Jim Hart's vibes playing will surely be impressed on hearing Corey Mwamba.
Corey Mwamba makes a quick return to the Ouseburn appearing with Alexander Hawkins at the Cumberland Arms (across the Ouseburn and up the hill) on Friday 9th July.

Slice of Troyka followed by a cool glass of Mwamba/Kane/Blackmore - Schmazz @ The Cluny June 29.

One very classy band full of surprises. Troyka base their trademark on a rich tapestry of textural subtle, dry wit kind of intelligence. Ooooozes of depth. I loved every second of what I caught towards the end of their set. Deserving 5 star owners. Somewhat a religious experience entirely.
Playful Blackmore (drms)
Empathic 'elder' Montague (gtr)
Keeping it together Downes (keys)
Corey Mwamba Trio
Corey Mwamba on, now let me get this right, vibraphone dulcimer electronics. How does he do it? When the head of his stick flies off over his head onto the stage doing a triple back twist and full bodied somersault you know either this guy is playing at full throttle or his sticks are genuinely having a ball and dancing on air at the thrill of it all. I've now seen such an instrument twice this year, which to me, I hope, signifies a new trend in this not oft seen stage art. A name to watch for. Bands take notice and have this artist in your band.
Dave Kane truly inspires us with his technique and emotive instrumental language. Quite beautiful to watch. Joyously communicating with Corey's sweet chimes with passion, and boyishly flirtatious at times, charm. He makes his bass speak ten kinds of languages in 20 different dialects and 100 kinds of emotions. That thing talks!
Joshua Blackmore intelligently listening as much as providing a rich backing just providing the right sense of rythmic tension. A genuinely talented artist I've come to admire in various bands. Every beat to this young chap means something, and he won't hit a beat if it isn't saying something. There's a point to every stroke and lick on the skins (you know what I mean).
Come back again but do a longer set, please.
Sarah Razvi.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Whitley Bay Jazz Festival Reminder.

I'm sure by now you all know about this, but with England safely out of the World Cup, here's a reminder anyway! The Festival takes place Friday 9th to Sunday 11th July at the Village Hotel & Leisure Centre, Silverlink North, Cobalt Park, NE27 0BY. Thirty bands, 150-plus musicians from eleven countries (UK, Chile, Japan, Germany, USA, Sweden, Australia, Holland, Switzerland, France and Canada) play on four stages from noon to midnight each day. Tickets still available either online at or by cheque from 60 Highbury, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 3LN. There will be some tickets available on the door. you can buy a weekend pass £75, Full Day £30 (Saturday £35) or even a half-day ticket at £17.50 (available on the door only).
Thursday 8th July we have a kick-off concert at The Sage Gateshead (Hall One, 7.30pm) with Keith Nichols' Park Lane Orchestra (the Blue Devils augmented with violins and singer Janice Day - see great new picture!) in a tribute to the Great British Dance Bands. Tickets from as little as £5.00 (in the Gods!) from 0191 443 4661 or The Sage doesn't put on much of our kind of music, so please support them when they do......
Mike Durham.

Stan Martin Funeral Details.

MARTIN (Ponteland). Suddenly taken from us on 22nd June 2010, aged 83 years, Stanley "Stan", much loved husband of Cynthia, loving father to Tracy and father-in-law to Andrew, beloved grandad to Catherine. Will be sadly missed by all his family and friends. Please meet for Funeral Service at West Road Crematorium on Thursday 1st July at 12.15pm. Family flowers only please, a retiring collection in lieu of flowers to Red Brick House. All welcome back afterwards to Benwell Hill Cricket Club.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sarah Ellen Hughes @ The Cherry Tree Restaurant. A Game of Two Halves

Sarah Ellen Hughes (vcl), Rick Simpson (pno), Gavin Barrass (bs), Darren Altman (dms).
Having had a slight involvement in bringing this gig about it was with a mixture of eager anticipation and a small degree of trepidation that I arrived at the popular Jesmond restaurant. It was raining but the welcome from management and staff was as warm as ever.
There were six of us in our party and all were here on my recommendation. No pressure.
We studied the menu; deciding on a starter. The popular choice was Dandelion & Bacon Salad with Shallots and Crispy Hen's Eggs but I decided to take a chance on the Watermelon & Feta Salad with Heritage Tomatoes and Pumpkin Seeds. It was delicious. My friends assured me the Dandelion dish also reached epicurean heights.
On stage, Sarah was Taking a Chance on Love - a more challenging gamble than Watermelon and Feta Salad or even the Dandelions but, nevertheless, one that worked despite her being grossly under-miked. This was a problem throughout the first session and we didn't hear the girl at her triumphant best until the second set.
However, there was still plenty of good numbers but you had to listen extra intently. Who would have ever guessed they would hear Too Young To Go Steady at a jazz gig? The last time I heard it it was sung by Ruby Murray in the film It's Great To Be Young (in fairness it must be pointed out that Humph did play on the soundtrack of that film so maybe it isn't that far-fetched!
What Sarah did was to remind us that it is still a good tune. We also discovered that Rick Simpson is one of the most sympathetic accompanists around.
Lady Be Good, Corcovado, Get Out of Town and You Go To My Head were okay but Sarah was still not being heard to full advantage.
My Char-Grilled Pork Steak with Roasted Radiccio, Pancetta & Balsamic more than made up for any failings in the sound department whilst those at our table who went for Tempura of Plaice Fillets with Lemon Mayonaise & Crisp Salad had satisfying grins on their faces.
The set finished with Carole King's You've got a Friend - an indication of things to come.
During the intermission, perhaps all concerned had O.D-ed on Banana Cake with Rum Caramel & Chantilly Cream and who would blame them? Whatever, the second set was a whole new ballgame (sorry ballgames are a sore subject unless you're a cricket or a tennis fan) and we heard the Sarah Ellen Hughes we'd come to hear.
The volume was turned up with just a touch of reverb added and a cracking and original take on Ain't Misbehavin' got the show back on the road.
I relaxed.
We'll Be Together Again, I Concentrate on You and a tremendous version of They All Laughed.
Sarah takes risks and mostly they come off. I've Never Been In Love Before - really great song from Guys and Dolls - Shiny Stockings a la Ella, Wave, Georgia and Bye Bye Blackbird - all expertly and attractively delivered.
This last number was indeed bye bye and we sat back and sighed with delight after what had been a most enjoyable evening.
Not that this was a one girl show. As well as his simpatico accompaniments Rick Simpson played some dazzling solos - he's a guy to look out for. Gavin Barras, the perfect rock for some of Sarah's voice/bass moments. Gavin went for it in his solos.
On drums, Darren Altman had the most amazing solo using mainly the cymbals on a Jobim tune - You Never Come To Me - imaginative.
Catch the show at Bishop Auckland Town Hall tomorrow (Tuesday June 29.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alter Ego - Splinter @ The Bridge

Dave Hignett (tpt), Keith Robinson (alt), Niall Armstrong (ten/flt), Andy Hawking (pno), Ian Paterson (bs.gtr), David Francis (dms).
Now a sextet, Alter Ego continue to work in the rich vein of jazz that emerged on labels such as Blue Note and Prestige during the 1950s and, in the process, stamping on it their own contemporary brand of jazz.
What I find refreshing about this band is that every member doesn't always solo on every number before descending into the inevitable round of fours!
Fours, when used sparingly, can be effective. However, when they become routine...
Fortunately, Alter Ego avoid the 'fours trap' with the result that each number is a polished entity.
All six guys were on form - not allowing the depressingly small audience or the afternoon's football fiasco to detract from the performance - and we were treat to the familiar and not so familiar items from the pad.
Catch them again on Friday at Queens Hall, Hexham.

Tomorrow at the Cherry Tree.

Tomorrow night (Monday June 28) sees the first appearance at the North East's leading jazz eaterie by former NYJO singer Sarah Ellen Hughes.
With Rick Simpson on piano, Darren Altman on drums and Gavin Barras on bass this promises to be a night to remember.
To sample the singing click here.
To sample the food you'll have to take my word for it!

Troyka on 3 and at the Cluny.

Tomorrow (Monday) night's Jazz on 3 (Radio 3,11:15 pm) features a set by Troyka (Chris Montague-guitar, Joshua Blackmore-drums and Kit Downes-organ). The following night hear the trio live at Schmazz's regular last Tuesday in the month date at the Cluny down in the Ouseburn Delta, Newcastle. Russell

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra @ The Sage, Gateshead.

Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Printup, Kenny Rampton, Ryan Kisor (tpts). Chris Crenshaw, Vincent Gardner, Elliot Mason (tmbs). Victor Goines (ten/clt), Ted Nash (alt/clt/fl), Walter Blanding (ten/clt), Sherman Irby (alt/clt), Joe Temperley (bar/bass clt). Carlos Henriquez (bs). Ali Jackson (dms). Dan Nimmer (pno).
There was a buzz of anticipation in the bar area of Hall One as the pre-concert audience fortified themselves in readiness for the long awaited return visit of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and its leader Wynton Marsalis.
In the comfortably attended auditorium the tension mounted until, after the usual commercials from Ros, the musicians took their places and we were off.
I think Wynton announced the opening number as Offertory but I could be wrong. It was a piece portraying the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and had a slightly ecclesiastical feel to it. It sounded good even though this isn't a Basie style outfit that hits you smack dab in the middle with overwhelming power. Instead they got the ensemble over quickly and let the leader loose on an extended solo.
Loose perhaps isn't the right word - I don't think Wynton does 'loose'. Where he excels is in the restrained, perfectly controlled and brilliantly executed solo. If cool was back in fashion this would be cool.
Frank Wess's Magic saw Sherman Irby lighting up on alto. A soft, almost ethereal, sound that gradually built up to a meaty climax.
Portrait in Seven Shades related to the Surrealism of Salvador Dali and this abstraction was increased by the 13/8 time signature, an esoteric trumpet/alto duet (Marcus and Ted) and a driving percussion section that brought it home on a high.
Marcus, I thought, more than held his own with the leader - he had much fire in his belly particularly on Down By The Riverside.
Needless to say, the rhythm section were in the driving seat throughout with piano, bass and drums doing interesting things behind the soloists as well as having their own moments of glory.
One of the stranger choices was a couple of nursery rhymes - Itsy Bitsy Spider and Baa Baa Black Sheep! Joe played bass clarinet on the first whilst Ted Nash played flute. However the kudos on this 'medley' surely went to Walter Blandings for his tenor solo.
An up-tempo number saw Wynton at last going for broke and he drew the applause as did Joe Temperley on the next two.
Ellington's Petal of a Rose saw Joe, rich and luxuriant, on bass clarinet - I don't think I've ever heard a bass clarinet sound so full and round-toned. Likewise his baritone blast on Jack The Bear. The legacy of Harry Carney is in safe hands here.
This brought the interval-less concert to a close but, of course, we demanded more and got less!
By which I mean a segment of the band came on for the encore and played - I kid you not - Jelly Roll Morton's New Orleans' Bump which was done quite imaginatively. Then it was all over and the deserved applause included several standing ovs.
Because Joe Temperley wasn't in the small group encore I missed the chance to chat with him backstage - he'd returned to The Hilton to watch some football!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jazz At The Fell - John Hallam with The Dream Band.

Alan Smith (tpt/flg), Iain MacAulay (tmb), Jim McBriarty (clt/alt/vcl), John Hallam ( ten/ clt/curved sop), Jeremy McMurray (pno), Jim ? (bs), Ernie Jackson (dms).
Second opportunity in a couple of weeks to enjoy the playing of John Hallam, the previous gig being with Roly and co at Blaydon.
This time, within the confines of Alan Smith's Dream Band, he proved just as adept floating through the ensembles without upsetting the equilibrium of the front-line. Solo-wise he flitted from clarinet to tenor to curved soprano producing an almost Hodges-like mellifluousness on the latter instrument. On clarinet John was featured on a couple of Goodmanesque quartet numbers- Avalon and Poor Butterfly.
Not that this was a one-man show. The Dreamers get a good sound and solo equally well. I'd never heard Alan Smith for some time but he has lost none of his drive - a big full tone that reached out from the Cricket Club to the Rugby Club next door calling the children back home.
The ever-present Jim McBriarty, unfazed by his illustrious fellow reed-man blew alto and clarinet as well as a few vocals. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? - such a lovely tune - being but one. Alexander's Ragtime Band another.
On trombone, Iain, slipping and sliding in and around Lady Be Good, Satin Doll, So Do I and the opener - Swing That Music, played with his usual panache accompanied of course by Jeremy. Sitting by the piano it was quite awesome to observe Jeremy's stretch - tenths? twelthes? No wonder he plays such big juicy chords!
Ernie Jackson on drums - long time since I heard Ernie - kept it swinging and a bass player, new to me, Jim - didn't catch his second name - was strong yet subtle laying down the harmonic foundation to it all.The Fell is a good venue inasmuch as it has a dance floor and folk enjoy the social occasion as much as the music. No pin dropping silences or tut tutting here just good foot-tapping fun.
Although I only stayed for the first set it was most enjoyable.

Saturday Night @ The Sage Looks Good To Me.

I'll let The Sage's program pundit do the work because every word is on the money.
Described by Down Beat as "not just a band on tour, but a religious congregation, spreading the word of jazz", this is a big band in the classic mould, with a vast repertoire that stretches from rare historic compositions from the early days of jazz, through the music of the great big band leaders - Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson - and later masters such as Charlie Mingus and Ornette Coleman, to new music from within the multi-talented ranks of the Orchestra itself. "The finest big band in the world today." Daily Telegraph “A heady mélange of soulful lyricism, brash dissonance, festive rhythms and unbridled swing, [the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra] proved hard to resist.” Mike Joyce, The Washington Post Line-up: Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Printup, Kenny Rampton, Ryan Kisor - Trumpets. Chris Crenshaw, Vincent Gardner, Elliot Mason - Trombones. Victor Goines - Sax/Clarinet, Ted Nash - Sax/Clarinet/Flute, Walter Blanding - Sax/Clarinet, Sherman Irby - Saxophone/Clarinet, Joe Temperley - Sax/Clarinet. Carlos Henriquez- Bass. Ali Jackson- Drums. Dan Nimmer- Piano.
7:30 pm in Hall One - don't miss it!

Farewell Alan Plater O.B.E.

Alan Plater O.B.E died earlier today aged 75. Author, playwright and jazz aficionado, Alan managed to successfully incorporate the jazz idiom into much of his writing.
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, The Beiderbecke Trilogy, Doggin Around, Mysterioso, Looking For Buddy were just some of the jazz related items that came from his prolific pen.
Like a jazz solo, his writing was fluent, structured and often with the sound of surprise so essential to both crafts.
Born in Jarrow (like myself), he went to Hull University (like myself albeit I only went on a two day course!) before going on to become one of Britain's finest writers (unlike myself.)
I'm fortunate in having much of his work in book form or on video so although he is gone he will not be forgotten in this household.
Rest In Peace - very sadly missed.

Mo Scott Trio @ Blaydon.

Mo Scott (vcl), Rod Sinclair (gtr), Neil Harland (bs).
I boarded a Westbound Metro, took a number 604 bus, burnt some leather and there
I was at Blaydon CIU Club a.k.a. Blaydon Jazz Club.
The building gives off an aura of dereliction possibly not unlike an urban blues shack on the edge of Detroit.
This is a good omen as tonight is going to be a blues night simply because of Mo Scott. Mo could sing a Wagnerian aria and it would come out as blues.
The trio excelled on bluesified Gasbook classics such as How High The Moon, World on a String, Moonglow, But Beautiful, Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby, God Bless The Child, Imagination, Georgia on my Mind, Come Rain or Come Shine, an actual blues - Blow Wind Blow - and several others.
The lady was in good voice although her blues mama image was slightly spoiled by her drinking bottled spring water. If a blues mama must drink water then it should be muddy water, consumed after sleeping in a hollow log.
Rod too was firing on six. Like Mo, his phrases are so blues drenched they are almost purple and nobody does it better.
Neil, as always, the pivotal figure around whom it all evolves.
Regret not staying until the end but the 10:43 to Eldon Square beckoned and even though it doesn't sound quite as charismatic as the Ten Ten From Ten Ten Tennessee, the 3:10 to Yuma or the 4:55 to Paddington it got me from A to B from whence I boarded an Eastbound Metro...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

R.I.P. Stan Martin

Unfortunately a bit of bad news. Just had a call to say Stan Martin passed away last night.
As most of you will know Stan was a great tenor and clarinet player and also a fine pianist (except he only played on the black notes, I backed him once and everything was in 5 sharps or 6 flats!)
He spent lengthy periods in the Panama Jazzmen and the River City Jazzmen, and had a fine quartet at the Airport Social Club in later days.
Not sure yet about funeral arrangements.
Alan Rudd.

Rosier than ever at Rosie's with the Maine Street Jazzmen.

Olive Rudd (vcl), Herbie Hudson (tmb/vcl/hca), Jim McBriarty (clt), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Mike Humble (dms).
It was standing room only today at Rosies. The good weather, World Cup euphoria, and a band that plays the best jazz south of the North Shields' Levee possibly the contributory factors along with Everard's Tiger ale.
Even without Ray on trumpet the band generated a tremendous sound albeit, at times, they strayed from Dixieland to Skiffleland (It Takes a Worried Man..). Great afternoon.
Olive excelled on June Night, I Got Rhythm, Swing That Music and - directed at me personally - I Wished on the Moon (sigh...).
As always, Malcolm Armstrong played his brand of Ralph Sutton, Bob Zurke, to great effect - man of the match today.
It was one of those days when you wanted the whole world to hear what was going on in South Shields but, although I tried, my non iphone failed miserably.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Hot 8 Brass Band

Kevin Greene, second alto with the Chilli Road Band, drew my attention to this YouTube version of Sexual Healing by the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans. The reason being because it is a tune the CRB also play although, possibly in deference to the younger members, it goes by the title of Musical Healing.
Frankly, like all New Orleans street bands, the tuning is abysmal but you cannot take away the enthusiasm and the joie de vivre they radiate.
However, even more interesting is the tragic background to the band - apart from Hurricane Katrina.
Wiki states that "The band has also been mentioned in the U.S. media because three of its members, all of whom were between the ages of 17 and 25, have died over the years due to handgun violence.
In 1996, seventeen-year old trumpet player Jacob Johnson was found shot execution-style in his home.
In 2004, trombone player Joseph "Shotgun Joe" Williams was shot dead by police in controversial circumstances. According to a local news source.
According to New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) accounts, officers were stopping 22-year-old trombonist Joe Williams for driving an allegedly stolen vehicle when Williams slammed the white Ford F-150 into reverse, accelerating into an NOPD squad car and officer. His actions, says Deputy Superintendent Marlin Defillo, caused officers to fear for their lives and thus open fire, killing Williams.
The same source reported that several eyewitnesses say that police shot Williams while he was unarmed and his hands were in the air.
In 2006, drummer Dinerral "Dick" Shavers was shot and killed while driving with his family. According to The Times-Picayune.
Dinerral Shavers, 25, died from a gunshot to the back of his head at about 5:30 p.m. while behind the wheel of his black Chevrolet Malibu in the 2200 block of Dumaine Street… His family was not injured… Although critically wounded, Shavers continued driving four blocks up Dumaine before stopping. By 6 p.m., Shavers lay motionless on his back in the middle of the street just outside the open driver's side door… Shavers was taken to a hospital, but died within an hour.
Police said the bullet was intended for Shavers's fifteen-year old stepson. The Hot 8 Brass Band played at Shavers' funeral."

Jazz Returns to the British Legion Club in West Jesmond

The Royal British Legion Club, West Jesmond, once a stronghold occupied by the now defunct River City Jazzmen, has jazz on the menu again.
Early indications are that this is a trial period so let us hope it is well supported.
However, it must be pointed out that alternative attractions on a Thursday include the Vieux Carré Jazzmen at Sunniside, occasional Jazz North East promotions at the Corner House and Gateshead Old Town Hall as well as Blaydon Jazz Club sessions.
The following gigs are confirmed.
JUNE Thursday 24 Maine Street Jazzmen. 8:30 pm. Admission: £3.00. JULY Thursday 08 Maine Street Jazzmen. 8:30 pm. Admission: £3.00. Friday 09 Grace Ellen 'An Evening of Jazz & Swing'. 8:30 pm. Admission: ? Grace Ellen is a local vocalist. Thursday 22 Maine Street Jazzmen. 8:30 pm. Admission: £3.00. Royal British Legion Club West Jesmond Avenue Jesmond NE2 3EX Tel: 0191 281 0736

Ned Kelly Rides Again - Colin Aitchison

You can now watch a 15min documentary on Ned Kelly's which is a feature for the big band.
Here is the link. Also for those of you on Facebook you can now join the Ned Kelly's Last Stand Fan share your memories of Neds.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Update on Mike Carr

Exchanging mails with that great jazz organist Mike Carr I was pleased to learn that he has a new CD out shortly. This is a duo disc with guitarist Jim Mullen. However, on this one, Mike is not on Hammond but an acoustic grand piano. Look forward to hearing it as I well remember Mike on piano (and vibes) back in the old Emcee 5 days.
Visit Mike's website for details of his back catalogue including Emcee 5. Sadly, what is not there is Hammond Under Pressure - the duo LP he made with drummer Tony Crombie that, at the time it was released I considered to be the best jazz organ record ever! Perhaps one day I'll hear it again and see if my judgement has changed over the years (Thanks to this post I now have the disc and my judgement stands.)!
Another website Mike drew my attention to was The Doodlin' Lounge which has a good feel to it with lot's of jazz organ, interviews, and various vocalists such as Dakota Staton.
Nice to know Mike is still recording.
PS: Mike also provided more info on Willie Payne with his comments.

Chuck Chucks It!

I hope Sebastian Scotney will forgive me for nicking this article from the Bellingham Herald (no not 'our' Bellingham but the West Washington one. No not our Washington but the state of the same name 'over there') by Chuck Israels that he brought to our attention on the LondonJazz Blog but the views the illustrious bass player expressed are so close to my own and that of many of my contemporaries 'of a certain age' that I feel they should be heard by as wide an audience as possible.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Willie Payne - a Guitarist's Guitarist .

Roly made reference to Willie Payne trading choruses with Tal Farlow back in the 1980s and seeks more information on the West Indian guitarist who so enlivened the local scene 30 years ago.
I recall many Corner House sessions where Willie left an impression on both audience and musicians yet info on him is so sparse as to be almost non existent.
His name is missing from the jazz guitar tomes and, to the best of my knowledge, recordings probably only exist in privately recorded tapes and cassettes.
If anyone can add any memories or info on Willie we'd love to share them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

ACV - Splinter @ The Bridge

Graeme Wilson (ten/bar), Paul Edis (keys), Andy Champion (bs), Mark Williams (gtr), Adrian Tilbrook (dms).
An excellent turnout for an excellent band who, as expected, delivered the goods.
On some numbers, ACV coax and caress before exploding with an orgasmic release into a glorious cacophony of sound.
On others, the crescendo precedes the diminuendo lulling us, the listener, into a brief feeling of tranquillity before being thrown once more into the musical maelstrom.
Driven on by Adrian - who erupts like a mad metronome on methadone - the soloists take a trip. Mark to Clapton, Graeme on a 'Trane, Paul flying a virtual Hammond B3 and Champion the Wonder Bass walking the dog - sometimes an Afghan Hound other times a snarling Pit Bull - till it could walk no more.
Great stuff and who cares that it's as much rock 'n funk as it is jazz - whatever that is in this day and age - check out their CD Fail In Wood on the Jazzaction label.

Tonight's Big Gig - Splinter @ The Bridge - ACV

Graeme Wilson (ten), Mark Williams (gtr), Paul Edis (pno), Andy Champion (bs), Adrian Tilbrook (dms).
Need I say more? Five of the biggest hitters in town for what promises to be, going on previous performances, a night to remember, Don't be late.
Bridge Hotel - Newcastle end of the High Level Bridge.
Doors 7:30 pm for 8:00 pm start - £4.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tal Farlow on KRML

I listen to KRML a lot although I have yet to phone the late night guy and ask him to 'Play Misty For Me'.
Tonight, DJ Jim Bourne, featured guitarist Tal Farlow. A timely reminder of just what a fine player he was.
Tal, I think, played at least twice in Newcastle. I recall seeing him with Red Norvo in a trio completed by bass guitarist Derek Dixon. That was at Gosforth Civic Centre. He also played with Bill le Sage at the Corner House.
The KRML program featured a host of goodies from a 7 CD Mosaic boxed set and included early tracks with Norvo and Mingus, a track with Barry Galbraith on rhythm and some with Eddie Costa on piano. These were all gems and complimented one of my favourite LPs - Up, Up and Away by Sonny Criss, Tal Farlow, Cedar Walton, Bob Cranshaw and Lenny McBright. A superb Prestige album from the mid-sixties that is well worth searching out.
There's also some Tal on YouTube where he does play Misty - and how!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Customs House Big Band with Ruth Lambert @ Saville Exchange, North Shields

Gordon Marshall, Ken De Vere, Paul Riley-Gledhill, Michael Lamb (tpts). Peter Morgan (md/bs.tmb), Keiron Parnaby, Dave Brocklesby, Mike Fletcher, (tmb). Jill Brett, Elaine Willis (alt), Graeme Wilson, Leah Tether (ten), Chris Atkinson (bar), Bill Britain (pno), Roy Willis (gtr), Jack Lowe (bs), David Francis (dms), Ruth Lambert (vcl).
With England taking on the might of Algeria in the World Cup it perhaps wasn't surprising that there were a few empty seats dotted around the Saville Exchange. Nevertheless, in hindsight, the scoreline might read Big Band Fans 10 Soccer Fans 0 when it comes to weighing up the entertainment factor.
The Customs House Big Band themselves fielded a few subs but they were no ordinary subs.
Graeme Wilson and Leah Tether on tenors, more than did the business.
In fact Graeme, the sole male in the sax section, had an extended solo cum coda on Blue Bossa as well as a few shorter ones on other numbers that let North Shields know, what we already knew, just how good and versatile a player he is.
Leah had some nice moments too taking the opening solo on Basie's Straight Ahead. Jill Brett, on lead alto, blew several good solos and it has to be said she sounded great. Lovely silky tone particularly on her spotlighted piece of Ellingtonia.
Jack Lowe, leaving the band and the area after this gig, took centre stage for his bass feature - Bernie's Tune - and didn't disappoint - we wish him well. Trumpet solos were, in the main, by Michael Lamb who always delivers the goods.
Which brings me to Ruth. The girl was in good voice - is she ever anything else? - and we were treated to exquisite versions of Fever, Someone to Watch Over Me, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Mambo Italiano, Come Fly With Me, Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, Summertime, Alright Okay You Win and The Man I Love.
Band numbers that impressed included Flight of the Foo Birds, Love for Sale, plenty Gordon Goodwin charts and a nice version of Easy to Love by pianist Britain.
Throughout, the rhythm section played with Basie-like precision.
A good gig, my only crit was that the soloists needed miking when playing over the top of the ensemble.
A cracking night.

Review: The New Couriers - Brazilian Thoroughfare.

Martin Drew (dms), Jim Hart (vbs), Mornington Lockett (ten/sop), Steve Melling (pno), Paul Morgan (bs).
I mentioned I won a CD in the raffle at last night's Newology gig. The CD in question was Brazilian Thoroughfare by the New Couriers. Recorded live at The 606 Club back in 2008 and released on the Trio label - it is a belter!
Not surprisingly, it evokes memories of the original Couriers thanks to some Tubbs-like vibes playing from Jim Hart and Scott/Hayes tenor from Mornington Lockett.
With three of the five tunes being from the pen of Victor Feldman it is little surprise that the vibes are well featured. and Jim Hart is a worthy carrier of the torch left by Feldman and Hayes.
Lockett too is tailor-made for the role of Tubby Scott (or Ronnie Hayes). Morn. belongs to that elite group of younger British tenor men who are edging away from the peloton - I'm talking Simon Spillett, Paul Booth, Simon Allen and maybe one or two more.
On a slower number such as the slightly exotic New Delhi played on soprano ML gets into a funky groove that has  modal overtones.
On piano, Steve Melling digs deep into our innermost feelings - witness his solo on Feldman's Falling in Love. Steve contributed the title track and he featured himself and Jim Hart in an exciting piano/vibes duet.
The final track - You and the Night and the Music - is an uptempo blast in the best Jazz Couriers tradition.
Paul Morgan - another elite bass player - provided the essential foundation as well as chipping in with solid solos.
Martin Drew kicked it along mega mightily giving the soloists no other option but to swing their butts off or die.
Nobody died.
A raffle that was well worth investing in and if there ain't a raffle near you click here..

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Paul Towndrow's Newology @ the Corner House

Paul Towndrow (alto), Mark McKnight (gtr), Steve Hamilton (Fender Rhodes), Mark Hodgson (bass), Alyn Cosker (drums) + Ryan Quigley (trumpet).
A gig that lived up to and beyond expectations. Contemporary Hard Bop verging on Free. This is where jazz should be - pushing frontiers without forgetting the past.
The first set saw Newology firing on all cylinders to a select audience who had tunnelled out of the World Cup football that was being shown in the bar of the Corner House and indeed most bars within the global radius.
Paul Towndrow blew some earth scorching alto. Incredible technique, the ideas seemed to flow endlessly - if he'd been a footballer Scotland would be in the World Cup! Mark McKnight wailed on guitar lifting the tension with each solo. Steve Hamilton's choice of Fender Rhodes seems a little strange in this day and age. Don't get me wrong - Steve did everything possible with that, the hippest of dinosaurs, but I think I'd have liked a little more of a piano sound.
Still, that's just a passing thought that Alan Glen planted and which I went along with.
Mark Hodgson, bass, Alyn Cosker, drums, - both were on top of their game - Cosker driving, powering, firing on all cylinders, cooking with gas in the ensembles and soloing with typical Scottish reserve which means no reserve at all. He was up for it!
By contrast, Hodgson, like all good bassists, was laid back yet steady soloing with great melodic feel and providing the perfect base for blast-off.
Great first set and I won a CD in the raffle.
Enter Ryan Quigley.
If HE'D been a footballer Scotland would have won the world cup!
Quigley was on song. He has a big, fat, modern sound reminiscent of Clifford Brown or Fats Navarro that remained full as he soared effortlessly through the registers unleashing a cascade of notes that were just so right - I don't think I've heard a more exciting trumpeter in recent years.
Truly a grand night.

Further Trials of a Trainee Jazz Singer. (If there can be such a creature!)

Readers may remember the first episode, ‘Jazz singing easy-no way’, or perhaps you are all trying hard to forget. Well I can report that it’s getting a bit easier for us singers though I can’t speak for any listeners.
I can speak for any watchers though, because the other week we all stood in a line facing the large mirror in the classroom so that we could watch while we did a song. This is shot through with pain, but seems to be necessary for all singers, and probably musicians. After all, the audience has to look at you so you should be prepared to confront yourself. I looked quite cute and I appeared to be enjoying myself by putting a bit of drama into the song. My only concern was that I’m about four inches shorter than the other singers, which maybe accounts for the ‘cute’ appearance. I suppose this wouldn’t be as noticeable if I was on stage alone.
I was lost in admiration for the other singers who looked enthusiastic and sophisticated. Yet some people said they couldn’t bear to watch themselves. But this was an excellent exercise, as we were also acting as an audience for each other as well as observing ourselves, and breaking down all sorts of inhibitions in the process. Take heart, fellow singers!
At the start of the lesson two of us had to practise putting up our mike stand, which is an essential skill for a singer, a fact that had never occurred to me before. I don’t do machines, so this was a real trial. You do something magical to the middle of the stand and feet come down, then you stand it up and point the part that holds the mike in the right direction (which is the right direction?) I could never repeat this again, and I’d find it far easier to sing 4 songs straight off, but they’d be without a mike, so what’s the good of that? Must learn mike stand construction soon.
Then there was the bass guitar. I should explain that we get CD’s to practise with at home, rather like those that you can buy with music books from the shops. The CDs play the basic music and you sing along, and hope that the neighbours don’t knock on the wall. It works fine.
But last week it was different, we were introduced to a talented young bass guitarist to play for us. I think he was playing just bass chords, anyway it was something that bore little resemblance to what we were singing. This was difficult and we really had to LISTEN, but it worked, we all got through ‘Good Morning Heartache’. So our chords must have been in there somewhere. This is what I love about jazz singing. You stand up and think it’s impossible and then you find you’re actually singing something that sounds at least ok, and sometimes good. It seems to me that jazz is the most analytical of music, it loves itself in the nicest possible way. And the words of the songs are so simple yet effective. We all nearly cried when we came to the last line, when the singer becomes resigned to being heartbroken – ‘good morning heartache, sit down’
To end cheerfully, have you heard the hangover version of that song? It’s called ‘Good Morning Headache’? (I don’t believe that joke is original, even though I’ve just thought of it.)
Ann Alexander

When It's Sleepy Time (not) Down South Shields

Herbie Hudson (tmb/hca/vcl), Jim McBriarty (clt/vcl), Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs), Mike Humble (dms), Olive Rudd (vcl).
Even without Ray Harley - back in Portugal - the gang blew up a storm on this very hot afternoon. The music matched the temperature.
Herbie wailed on harp producing notes he didn't learn from Larry Adler as well as some trombone he did pick up from Kid Ory onwards.
Jim McBriarty should be paid double! Clarinet players in Dixie bands not only have to play official solos they also, in effect, solo during the ensembles! Bravo Jim.
Piano, bass and drums can lay claim to being the world's most solid Dixie rhythm section.
And Olive!
Well she wrapped her troubles in dreams, locked away her heart and threw away the key yet still was able to wax eloquent about the prevailing blue skies.
Perfect summer's day.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More on the Great Whittington Jazz Picnic

Ray Shenton's piece about a jazz session in Great Whittington (see New Comment Old Posts) reminded me of an afternoon of jazz quite a few years ago in the grounds of the village hall. The session was advertised in Jazz Guide. I went along, called into the seventeenth century Queen's Head Inn (reputedly the oldest in Northumberland), supped a pint of Hambleton's (I think), then wandered round the corner to listen to the jazz.
It was a warm summer's afternoon, a nice day out. I hadn't realised that it was/is an annual event. This year's event (Sunday August 8) will be the 15th Great Whittington Jazz Picnic. For imbibers travelling from the Newcastle area and not wishing to drink and drive, there is a bus (no.74) from Eldon Square Bus Station to Matfen - a little way short of Great Whittington necessitating a bit of a walk (the bus runs through to Great Whittington every day except Sunday - typical!). Two websites worth looking at: (see photo of Ray Shenton and the Victory 'V') and

Tomorrow at the Corner House

Seems a good time to talk about tomorrow which will mean Thursday at the Corner House, Heaton.
Trumpet players - if you ain't heard Ryan Quigley then you ain't heard nothin'.
Alto players - if you ain't heard Paul Towndrow then you ain't heard nothin'.
Drummers - if you ain't heard Alyn Cosker then you must be deaf!
The band, Paul Towndrow's Newology, promises to provide the material for the gig of the year - I just can't wait. Already I'm thinking of the superlatives...
Thursday June 17, 8:00 pm. £8/£6.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

South Africa Comes to England

Highlight November 10 in your diary. That's the day that Hugh Masekela brings his brand of exciting Township music to The Sage, Gateshead.

Nigel Kennedy on BBC 1 Tonight.

Harley Johnson kindly drew my attention to this program (BBC1 10:35 pm) about Nigel Kennedy's Polish connections. Of particular interest to those who saw him recently at The Sage.
Details. Monkian keyboardist Harley, incidentally, is now based in Newcastle and available for rent-paying gigs! Lance.

From Bev Getz (on Facebook)

Hi Lance, I'm so sorry.... I somehow missed this message! I just read your poem and its truly lovely! Thank you! My dad would be really touched and honored. ♥ Best, Bev
Read again here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some People by Sarah Ellen Hughes

Another tasty trailer for Sarah at the Cherry Tree on June 28.


Last Summer, I heard Alexander Stewart at London's Spice of Life which, as most readers of this blog will know, is my favourite jazz venue in the capital.
I waxed eloquently about the young man to the extent my words were quoted by his team: 'Was this a gig or was this a gig!? Alexander Stewart is one of the best young singers I've heard in many a year'
- Bebopspokenhere Blog.
Alexander went on to reach the final of the Crooner Competition where he was pipped at the post by our boy Jason Isaacs.
Pianist, and Musical Director, Alex Webb has sent me this press release.
"The 22-year old rising jazz vocal star Alexander Stewart plays his first date as headliner at this key London jazz venue on Tuesday 22 June - the UK launching pad for stars like Norah Jones, Diana Krall and Curtis Stigers.
Come and see what ths fuss is about! Tuesday 22 June Pizza Express Jazz room, Dean St, Soho London W1,
Adm £15 Box office 08456 027017
As well as clever re-arrangements of great standards, Alexander Stewart translates the occasional pop song into jazz and adds some originals, including songs by pianist Alex Webb. Stewart performs with Webb, acclaimed bassist Gary Crosby - recently made an OBE for services to jazz in the UK, and Andy Chapman on drums.
Hear Alexander Stewart here:
See Alexander Stewart here:"
Wish I could be there and, for those of you who are in town next Tuesday, book now.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drums? Bass? - who needs them? Saxophonics and the Loco Guitar Trio - Splinter @ the Bridge.

Saxophonics: Keith Robinson (alt), Steve Summers (alt/ten), Graeme Wilson (ten), Niall Armstrong (bar).
Loco Guitar Trio: Dan Byrne-McCullough, Jordie Cooke, Pawel Jedrzejewski (gtrs).
After the previous powerhouse gigs from Extreme Measures, Claude Werner et al the punters could perhaps be excused for thinking that an all acoustic evening sans bass and drums would pale by comparision.
They were wrong - boy were they wrong!
I've heard Saxophonics several time but tonight was the first time they totally blew me away. The harmonies, the solos, the arrangements - mainly by Graeme - but also by Lennie Niehaus (an amazing Ain't Misbehavin'), Ralph Towner and Michael Moore - were complex yet accessible. I've never heard such precise playing since The 29th Street Saxophone Quartet played Newcastle Jazz Festival back in the 1980s and maybe not even then. From the opening Come Fly With Me via (the penultimate?) Wee Small Hours of the Morning/Autumn in New York to the demanded encore we were transfixed by the technique of the players and the resulting blend of sound and solo.
Not that this was a one-way street. Earlier, the Loco Jazz Trio had set a very high benchmark.
The three young men, perhaps slightly nervous at first, played a set - comparable in its own way with that which was to follow - drawing an enthusiastic response all-round.
Opening with a version of Take The A Train that had a distinct Hot Club feel about it they kept the listeners enthralled as they progressed through standards such as Body and Soul, a familiar Martin Taylor tune from some TV advert, Bjork's Oh So Quiet and a Bob Marley tune the title of which I missed. All three played good solos in a set that was a joy to hear.
Their future and the future of jazz is in safe hands.
To follow this, next week we have AVC. Another super session in store - don't miss it.

Next Time You're Down in Texas

I came across this article from the Texarkana Gazette. It is so evocative of good food and good blues I felt hungry just from reading it.

Forget the World Cup - Look what the future holds...

...tonight, Splinter @ the Bridge have their own game of two halves with the Loco Guitar Trio and Saxophonics. Two bands well worthy of your support.
Next Sunday, at the same venue, it is ACV. Tremendous band of big hitters.
Monday night at the Cherry Tree has the Mark Toomey Quartet - Bebop will definitely be spoken there.
Wednesday, Stacey Kent will be warbling in French at the Arc in Stockton. Stacey doesn't press everyone's button but she'll do for me.
Thursday, at the Corner House, Heaton - Paul Towndrow's Newology. With Ryan Quigley and Alyn Cosker in the line-up this will be the gig of the week for many although on Friday, at the Saville Exchange, North Shields, the Customs House Big Band and Ruth Lambert will be an equally popular choice - the fans will be flying back from South Africa for this one.
World Cup? - Never heard of it...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Book of Pepper - Jazz Library, Radio 3

Alyn Shipton is joined by Alan Barnes in Jazz Library on Radio 3 at 4:00 pm today (Saturday 12 June) to leaf through the work of Art Pepper. Russell


In the Queen's Birthday Honours List Michael Garrick, fresh from being photographed at Gateshead Old Town Hall with Ann Alex, has been made an M.B.E. The two events may be coincidental.
Bill Ashton, who already has M.B.E. and N.Y.J.O. after his name, now has an O.B.E.
Well done guys.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Report from the Jersey Shore

Hi Lance I thought of you yesterday when I went to the Garden State Arts Centre that you and I attended on the day you arrived here...Yesterday it was to see Rat Pack Memories. It was very good and the guys playing Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin were terrific. The show was called Drinkin' Singin' and Swingin' '....
In this week's local paper I see that Frankie Valli, Lisa Minelli and Tony Bennett are due in Ocean Grove early this summer.. June 18th to Aug 1st. Maybe I'll get to see one of them. Next week at the arts centre are the Osmond Brothers. Don't particularly want to see them but I have tickets.....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

John Hallam @ Blaydon Jazz Club

John Hallam (clt/ten/bar), Roly Veitch (gtr), Jeremy McMurray (pno), Neil Harland (bs), John Hirst (dms).
Having modestly imbibed at Rosie's during the afternoon I was reluctant to drive to Blaydon. It is a tortuous drive in the early evening as the city's workforce head for home whilst testing their Formula One skills in the process.
I opted for public transport - I've got a pass having lied about my age (that's two lies) - and Metro-ed to Gateshead where I boarded a number 49 bus.
It was a scenic route through a multitude of housing estates each one trying to outdo the other in the number of satellite dishes and flags of St George.
The World Cup approacheth. It wasn't all positive - one household already had the flag at half-mast...
However, I digress, this isn't about football it's about a far more beautiful game - the game of jazz.
John Hallam was superb tonight blowing tenor on Just Friends, a Victor Young tune, Was I to Blame For Falling in Love With You? and a belting Blues in the Closet.
On clarinet we enjoyed Where or When? and Putting on the Ritz before John donned the baritone for a sumptuous Dream a Little Dream of me followed by Ellington's I Let a Song Go Out of my Heart.
This brought us up to the interval where I hit for a bottle of Chianti in the raffle. Coincidentally, earlier in the day I had received a postcard from Colin Aitchison with a drawing of Raffles Hotel in Singapore - was that an omen or was that an omen?
My joys were not over.
After What is This Thing Called Love and Out of Nowhere on tenor came a clarinet feature - I Would Do Anything For You - a Claude Hopkins tune from way back that I picked up again on a Harry Allen CD.
It's been one of my favourite tunes ever since and this was the first time I recall hearing it played live although I'm sure I must have - superb.
It goes without saying the other guys too were great. Roly, I thought, excelled and the sound he got was my kind of guitar sound - nice round tone - he was worried about playing through the PA but he needn't have it was good.
Jeremy, John and Neil were all first class.
It occurred to me that on another night any one of the quartet could be the headline star.
At this point my bus was due so with apologies all round I bounced off into the night still humming I would swim the ocean wide, I would cross the great divide, I would do most anything for you... I love the tune although I'm not sure of the line - I would do most anything for you - most anything? Hardly total commitment. Still I always say total commitment is overrated.
Splendid evening.

Marcin Wasilewski Trio @ The Sage. June 9th.

Marcin Wasilewski (piano), Slawomir Kurkiewicz (double bass) & Michal Miskiewicz (drums).
The Sage's Polish Jazz Focus series of three gigs concluded with a return visit by the Marcin Wasilewski Trio. Hall Two with its world-class acoustics and intimate decahedron design is the ideal setting for a chamber jazz concert. Wasilewski, seated at the Steinway, concentrated, waits for a silence and begins. This is piano playing from the Bill Evans school of piano playing - contemplative, exploring the silence. Compatriots Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz complimented the leader with their empathetic performance. The trio's former employer, Tomasz Stanko, seems but a distant memory as the group sound is so well developed. Most of the tunes were the leader's and an early period Carla Bley composition King Korn was a highpoint of two hours of Polish jazz-making.

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

Olive Rudd (vcl), Ray Harley (tpt), Herbie Hudson (tmb/hca/vcl), Jim McBriarty (clt/vcl), Malcolm Armstrong )pno). Alan Rudd (bs), Mike Humble(dms.)
Things got off to a good start when Mike Humble told me he'd had a call from Florida saying he'd seen Mike's photo on Bebop Spoken Here and was he in Ireland? Mike explained it was an Irish pub in South Shields.
Bebop Spoken Here International!
Not that there was anything Irish about the music today - it was straight down the middle Chicago Style.
As I'll never hear the Condon gang playing After You've Gone - they themselves have all gone - I'll happily go to meet my maker having heard "Rosie's Rascals" playing the aforementioned song. Ballade chorus, up-tempo blast, great solos, going into a half time finish. This was as good as it will ever get. Chapeaus all round.
Olive too did good on It Don't Mean A Thing, Backyard, Rhythm and others.
An afternoon of vintage Maine Street.
They are in Morpeth Town Square on Sunday afternoon. Friday and Saturday they are up at Kirkcudbright.

Archival Items from Don Armstrong.

This is the Panama Jazzmen front line in full flight shortly after wining the Oxford competition. The brown Blazers were bought with the prize money of £30 or was it £50 pounds? Ronnie McLean (tmb) had a blazer but was not wearing it on this occasion. The bass player was Dave Thurston from Whitley Bay Joe McMullen, of course on trumpet and your truly on clarinet.
Don Armstrong.
Thanks to Don and to Pete Drysdale for this most interesting photo and the items of memorabilia (click on the above).
Incidentally, Jack Goodwin send his regards and assures Pete that he is still alive!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Update on New Century Ragtime Orchestra

On both Saturday and Sunday, 12 and 13 June, we will be at the Town Hall in Kirkcudbright (both sessions 2.30 – 5.00pm) as part of the 13th Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival
(further details from )
Then on Friday, 18 June, the band will be at Edinburgh’s Jazz ‘n’ Jive Club, 8-11pm (further details from )
I hope you can join us for one of these sessions.
Looking further ahead, we are at the Summer Classic Jazz Parade at Hemsby Seacroft, Norfolk on Saturday 3 July,
and at the 20th (and last!) Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival on Friday 9 July (
Phil Rutherford

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Blame it on my Youth - Sarah Ellen Hughes

Lovely YouTube video of Sarah Ellen Hughes. The former NYJO singer is at the Cherry Tree Restaurant on Monday June 28 - bookings being taken now. 0191 2399924.

The Blaydon Aces - Roly Veitch (guitar & vocals) & James Birkett (guitar) @ Blaydon & District CIU. June 7

Blaydon Jazz Club's Roly Veitch took the opportunity in Blaydon Races Week (Twas on the ninth of June and all that) to invite his friend and fellow guitarist Jim Birkett to join him in playing some favourite Geordie dialect tunes. It just so happens that the Blaydon Aces latest CD Gan Canny is released tomorrow (Wednesday - Twas on the ninth of June and all that), now that's what I call good marketing!
Geordie tunesmiths from down the years were the focal point throughout three entertaining sets in the concert room. Joe Wilson's Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny, The Lambton Worm from the pen of C.M. Leumane (of whom little is known), Tommy Armstrong's The Row Atween the Cages (a commentary on developments in the mining industry) and many other familiar tunes by the likes of Thomas Wilson (Thomas Wilson CIU Club in Low fell is worth a visit!), Jack Robson (Wherever Ye Gan You're Sure to Find a Geordie), Geordie Ridley (Blaydon Races) and Alan Hull (Fog on the Tyne). Highlights were many - two in particular for this listener were a beautiful ballad The Cliffs of Old Tynemouth by David Leitch (Roly described Leitch as a humanitarian - no bad thing to be, I'd say) and a Veitch original Gan Canny. The musicianship and vocals (!) were of the highest calibre and jazzers though they undoubtedly are, Veitch and Birkett, for the most part, kept in check their natural inclination to Play That Thing! All in all this way a most convivial evening in the always welcoming surroundings of Blaydon CIU Club.
Jazz takes centre stage at the same venue on Thursday night (June 10th) when the Blaydon Jazz Quartet (Roly and the boys) will be joined by reeds maestro John Hallam. Admission at the door £6.00. 8:30 pm start.


During last week I spent the sum of £21 and had great music in return, 13 gigs to be exact. Where else in this country could you do that, I ask you?

Jazz gigs included the Claude Werner Quartet last Sunday and the Michael Garrick concert on Thursday, where I got to talk to the man himself, and what a lovely gentleman he was – see the photo. Then there was a ceilidh at Gateshead on Tuesday. I can’t imagine many of the jazz fans I know dancing at a ceilidh (eh Lance?) but it’s great fun if you like that sort of thing, which I do.

But what I mainly wanted readers to know about were the jazz-like influences that I spotted at the Sage folk concerts run by the young people doing the Folk and Traditional Music Degree. There were 10 of these concerts. Nine of them were FREE, each lasting about 45 minutes, and were part of the students’ work which was being assessed. Obviously these were mainly folk music influenced (forget Wild Rovers, there’s a lot more to it than that!) but there were influences from folk music of other cultures such as Mongolian and French, elements of Shakespeare, and even a brass band. The jazz-like elements included a young lad called Simon Stephenson on guitar who treated us to ‘Windy and Warm’ (John D. Loudermilk); ‘The Orange Grove’ composed by the lad himself but influenced by Mississipi John Hurt; and ‘Salty Dog Rag’ and ‘Saturday Night Shuffle’. That last one was originally played by Merle Travis. Simon certainly knew how to play a mean rag.

Another lad to watch for is Ben Church (I don’t think he’s related to Charlotte though he did sing a song in Welsh). He has a most intriguing style of playing guitar which I think would interest jazz musicians. He was finger-picking, playing a quick chord, then doing percussion on the side of the guitar, each in turn, to produce a wonderful lively evocative sound.

Jazz fans may want to try these free concerts next year. You never know, you may get to like folk music if you don’t already listen to it.

Ann Alexander

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