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Bebop Spoken There

Jeff Lindberg: "You can have innovative new music and you can play music of the masters. They're not going to cancel each other out" - (DownBeat June 2019).

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2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The voting is open between now and May 31 to enable site visitors to nominate their choices in the various categories of this year's APPJAG awards which can be done here.
BSH was very proud to be nominated and to win the 2018 Media Award and hope we can have your support again this year.

Today Friday May 24

Afternoon

Jazz

Rendezvous Jazz - Monkseaton Arms, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. Tel: 0191 251 3928. 1:00pm. Free.

Giles Strong Trio - Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Market Place, Bishop Auckland DL14 7NP. Tel: 03000 269 524. 1:00pm. £5.00.

Evening.

Blues/Soul/Funk

Dave Kelly & Christine Collister - Gala Theatre & Cinema, Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA . Tel: 03000 266 600. 8:00pm. £18.00.

The Hookahs - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free.

Groove-a-matics - Lindisfarne Club, West St., Wallsend NE28 8LG. Tel: 0191 262 4258. 9:00pm.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Great American Songbook, The Sage, Gateshead. Wednesday June 20.

Katherine Zeserson (vocal)  James Birkett (electric guitar).
(Review by Ann Alex.)
 Everything that you need to know about the gasbook was included in this most enjoyable illustrated talk.  The social background, the influences behind the songs, how the songs came across to ordinary American people, and, most important of all, many of the songs themselves were performed.
Ms Zeserson is American, brought up in New York, so these songs were the soundtrack of her early life.  Mary Martin, the Broadway and Hollywood star, lived opposite.  The family regularly discussed the merits of songwriters such as Gershwin and Kern, or of singers Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.  So it’s not surprising that Ms Zeserson was able to sing classic versions of the songs beautifully, bringing out the full meaning of the words, acting them out.  
The songs needed no scatting or other decoration.  But, as she explained, the songs originally would not have been performed in a jazz-like fashion at all, as most of them were from musicals, so would have been done in that rather more semi-operatic style.
Gasbook songs are generally understood to be those from the first half of the twentieth century, written against a background of economic insecurity and listened to on the radio, so people needed this music to keep up their morale and help them to deal with problems of the time (the depression and two world wars).  The songs are part of the identity of the USA, even sometimes involving gender and race issues,  Porgy and Bess, Showboat and South Pacific all had racial storylines that were generally avoided by other branches of the entertainment world pre the 1960s.  The musical heritages of black America and of Eastern Europe played their part in producing the songs.
Examples sung included The Man I Love, (George and Ira Gershwin 1924); the controversial Love for Sale (Cole Porter 1930), which is about prostitution, so was banned originally.  We swung into It Don’t Mean a Thing (Duke Ellington 1932); and danced Cheek to Cheek( Irving Berlin 1935). Ms. Zeserson pointed out that many of the songs were used for dancing and the dancehall was a training ground for songwriters.  So at this point Jim provided us with a dancing jazz guitar accompaniment, which had a lovely warm smooth sound.  There followed It Ain’t Necessarily So (George and Ira Gershwin 1935), sung in a strong sultry voice; and All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern 1939).  We were told that we were lucky to have the latter song at all, as Kern just missed being drowned in the Lusitania tragedy.  Not many people knew that before they came along to this talk!  I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of my Hair (Rodgers and Hammerstein 1949) was followed by the two final songs, Here’s That Rainy Day (Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke 1953); and Misty (Errol Garner and Johnny Burke 1954)  These songs come from the end of the Gasbook era, when musicals and dancehalls had changed or were less popular, there was more prosperity, and people didn’t need to rely on radio so much.  Television was rising in popularity and Times They Were a Changin'.
Jim was deservedly thanked for his competent, skilled accompaniment, and we all went home with a printed list showing details of the songs sung and a greater knowledge of this important segment of American musical history.
Ann Alex.    

5 comments :

Lance said...

I agree it was an excellent evening. I'd like to have heard Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren and Rodgers with Larry Hart represented but in the time allotted she had to be selective and a good selection it was too.

Lance said...

The lyric to "It Ain't Necessarily So" is just so fantastic and Ms. Zeserson drew attention to the rhyming of - "He made his home in" with "That fish's abdomen" wonderful!
But my favourite line is - "Li'l Moses was found in a stream. He floated on water Till Ol'Pharaoh's daughter,
She fished him, she said, from dat stream." The emphasis and innuendo on those two words "she said"...

Liz said...

any chance of a repeat of this? I would travel to hear/see it, excellent review...watch out Lance , you have competition!!
Liz

Lance said...

We're not competitive - we write to our strengths ie Ann the vocal side, Russell the contemporary/cutting edge and myself the areas east and west of, and including, Bebop and blues. Plus of course we have a lot of occasional contributors who chip in - such as yourself, Liz, - which makes this almost a family affair - a family we are ever eager to enlarge so if any reader wants to kick in with a review of a gig, a CD or their Auntie Cleo's birthday party the door is always open.

Liz said...

I know, I was only joking when I mentioned competition!!
Liz

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