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Bebop Spoken There

David Binney: "In this age, we musicians need to do anything we can to make a living, and ninety-nine percent of us will have to do a wide variety of things." - (Jazz Times May 2019)

Archive

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.

Until July 21

Today Tuesday July 16

Afternoon

Jazz

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden. See above.

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Jazz

Gala Big Band w. ALAN BARNES: Strictly Come BRASSing - Gala Theatre, Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA. Tel: 03000 266 600. 7:30pm. £15.00. (£12.00. concs.). A Durham Brass Festival event.

River City Jazzmen - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NW. Tel: 01670 813983 (info). 8:00pm. £5.00. (inc. raffle). RCJ with Don Armstrong (clarinet, saxophone, penny whistle, vocals).

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SOLD OUT!

Zoe Rahman & Laura MacDonald - Lit & Phil, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SE. Tel: 0191 232 0192.. 8:00pm. £12.00. (£10.00. concs.). JNE.

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Northern Monkey Brass Band - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB.Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (donations).

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

Blog Archive

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: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Submissions for review

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.
Lance