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Bebop Spoken There

Sting: "It was great. They [the River City Jazzmen] all wore blue suits. The band had been together for about twenty years, which was the same age as the suits." - (Melody Maker Sept. 22, 1979).


Daily: July 6 - October 27

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden - Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA. Tel: 0191 478 1810. Screenings at intervals during the day. Part of Akomfrah's exhibition Ballasts of Memory. Exhibition (daily) July 6 - October 27. 10:00am-6:00pm. Free.

Today Monday October 21



Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden (see centre column).

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool - Tyneside Cinema, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle NE1 6QG. Tel: 0191 227 5500. 3:00pm/5:30pm. Screening of Stanley Nelson's documentary film (2019, cert. 15, 1hr 55mins).



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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Aki Takase & Keith Tippett @ Kings Hall, Newcastle

Listen: when things spiral beyond serious, the gloves are off, just as today, laid flat behind them on the floor of the Kings Hall, the great black lids were off the Yin & Yang joined Steinways, scattered inside with the contents of an improvising pianist's man/woman drawer - ping pong balls, blocks of wood, curtain rings, chopsticks and old combs - to bounce, zing, excite and frustrate the normal reactions of these majestic pianos.

Keith and Aki walked on together, took their bows to welcoming applause from the more than ample lunch time audience and then sat at their just-married instruments in contemplative silence, as collective vapours of ideas seemed to condense from the very ether of this beautifully resonant old hall. Emerging from his meditation, Keith stands and applies a piece of softwood to the cross-over treble strings, zzzing! as Aki makes her introductory percussive statement on the keys. I close my eyes in tonal absorption as the improvisations take off in such artful conversation, I have to open them for a periodic reality check to drag my out-of-body down from the ceiling - and of course, to keep an eye on what the two players are up to. Like the crossing wash of two grand boats passing starboard to starboard, the performance is never predictable and yet perfectly anticipated as the waves chop and splash on our aural harbour steps. Keith establishes a punching rhythm in the bass register, damped so that only the sound of the hammer mechanism can be heard, transporting us to an old cotton mill, where the shuttles fly back and forth as Aki applies a chromatic warp and weft punctuated by her colourful crashing chords. This is such an amazing telepathic improvised jazz duet that each player seems quite relaxed to introduce old friends as at a lively party: Keith, you remember George Gershwin and Aki, this is Abdullah Ibrahim - they go back to exciting the lips of their harmonic cocktail glasses. The control is never forced and rises and falls so gracefully from crescendo to diminuendo that you imagine they could be pilots with independent controls of the same aerobatic aircraft - we look skywards but never feel like running for cover! And, just as in the art of conversation, the end game is as important as the dizzy heights of the performance: Keith's fingers dart around inside a tinkling musical box on the inside top treble while Aki turns gently on the keys ; they play their au-revoirs as they had begun, with such respectful finesse we seem to be awakened from a dream, convinced we really can do whatever it was we dreamed we could do! A wonderful performance. George M


Blue said...

Wow George! What a superb piece of writing.

George Milburn said...

Thanks Blue!

Lance said...

In the words of the immortal Irving Berlin (I Love a Piano) "...a fine way to treat a Steinway..."

Russell said...

Hi Lance

Aki's forearm smash was delivered lovingly.


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About this blog - contact details.

Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: I look forward to hearing from you.

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Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to all of them other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.