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Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

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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.


16382 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 262 of them this year alone and, so far, 59 this month (April 20).

From This Moment On ...


Wed 24: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 24: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 24: Sinatra: Raw @ Darlington Hippodrome. 7:30pm. Richard Shelton.
Wed 24: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 24: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.

Thu 25: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 25: Jim Jams @ King’s Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Jim Jams’ funk collective.
Thu 25: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 25: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.
Thu 25: Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 25: Kate O’Neill, Alan Law & Paul Grainger @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass); Garry Hadfield (keys).

Fri 26: Graham Hardy Quartet @ The Gala, Durham. 1:00pm. £8.00.
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: East Coast Swing Band @ Morpeth Rugby Club. 7:30pm. £9.00. (£8.00 concs).
Fri 26: Paul Skerritt with the Danny Miller Big Band @ Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Fri 26: Abbie Finn’s Finntet @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. Opus 4 Jazz Club.

Sat 27: Abbie Finn Trio @ The Vault, Darlington. 6:00pm. Free.
Sat 27: Papa G’s Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 28: Musicians Unlimited @ Jackson’s Wharf, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: More Jam Festival Special @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free. A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.
Sun 28: Swing Dance workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00-4:00pm. Free (registration required). A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.
Sun 28: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox: The '10' Tour @ Glasshouse International Centre for Music, Gateshead. 7:30pm. £41.30 t0 £76.50.
Sun 28: Alligator Gumbo @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.
Sun 28: Jerron Paxton @ The Cluny, Newcastle. Blues, jazz etc.

Mon 29: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 29: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 6:30-8:30pm. Free. ‘Opus de Funk’ (a tribute to Horace Silver).

Tue 30: Celebrate with Newcastle Jazz Co-op. 5:30-7:00pm. Free.
Tue 30: Swing Manouche @ Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. 7:30pm. A Coquetdale Jazz event.
Tue 30: Clark Tracey Quintet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Future of Jazz in the North East

Thank you for attending the meeting about the future of Jazz in the North East of England on 23rd October.
We were very pleased that so many people were there, and we appreciate very much all of the input made.
A summary is attached of the topics covered, including the questions asked and issues raised. This is followed by a context
paper by Paul Bream  - The Current Position - where we are, how we got here and what we face.
The committees of Jazz North East and Schmazz (which are in the process of combining) will be considering all the ideas that came up
at the meeting in the process of planning over the next few months how to take things forward.
We look forward to liaising with you in the future.
And just to reiterate that we're hoping that some new people will want to join us - whether as committee
members or in another capacity.
Please do contact us if you would like more detail about this.
Jazz North East and Schmazz Committees.
Summary of Key Points from
 'Future of Jazz in the North East'
meeting on 23rd October 2012

The meeting was chaired by Chris Hodgkins, Director of Jazz Services the national development agency for jazz.  It was well attended by a total of 75 people from Teeside, County Durham, and Northumberland as well as Tyneside.

Where we are, how we got here, and what we face     Paul Bream  

Paul  spoke about a document he'd produced under the headings: Introduction, Jazz Action, Jazz North East, ‘schmazz @ the cluny’,the rest of the Region, the new Northern Structures and Future Prospects.   (The full document is reproduced below)

As regards the work of Jazz Action, a vote of thanks was given to Adrian Tilbrook for all of his good work since 1986 to promote jazz in the region.

The new jazz agency for the North, its purpose, its plans and its possibilities
Jazz North - Nigel Slee & Steve Mead gave a summary of the work being developed.Jazz North is a consortium of experienced delivery organisations and individuals funded by Arts Council England from October 2012 - March 2015 to build a new northern jazz delivery model, based on collective partnerships, to support the existing jazz sector across the North and to lead the development of both artform and audiences.
The founder members of the Jazz North consortium are Jazz Yorkshire, lead partner, along with representatives from Manchester Jazz Festival, Creative Arts Promotion (J-Night, Hull Jazz Festival, National Rural Touring Forum) and Live Music Now.  There are links to all the organisations on the Jazz North website.

During the first six months a range of services will be provided and some pilot projects will be set up. Other priorities are to make partnerships with other organisations beyond the consortium. As a new organisation we will be setting up structures such as staffing, board and an advisory panel to fully involve the jazz community in our decisions.

Some of the short term plans for Jazz North are:
·      northern line - recruiting up to 12 bands per year to promote and showcase with subsidised touring across the north
·      'get more gigs' - practical half-day events offering CPD for musicians (and promoters)
·      new networks north - professional development events for festival organisers, educators and Music Education Hubs and northern voluntary promoters
·      on-line resources - to allow northern artists and promoters simple ways in which news and information about their gigs and activities can reach a wider public.
·       projects for children and young people  -jazz in schools, a jazz jamboree and a youth big band / community orchestra project.

For more detail, and plans for April 2013 onwards-
go to

How to get involved?

Sign up to Jazz North to receive our email newsletter. If you're interested in finding out more about becoming a partner organisation to work with Jazz North please get in touch via the Contact page.

The role of a voluntary promoters network for the North   
Steve Crocker (Seven Jazz Leeds) spoke about the work of the Northern Voluntary Jazz Promoters Network (NVJPN), including a skills survey carried out to inform a funding application to provide training to support the building of capacity among voluntary promoters e.g. in fundraising marketing, and audience development.

Steve referred to the network links and co-operation between promoters in Yorkshire, and  observed that regular funding is a thing of the past and that there's a need to look more widely for funding from diverse sources.

Steve encouraged more promoters from the North East to join the network which meets quarterly   Contact  Steve at

Questions raised and Observations contributed

The format of the meeting did not allow for firm conclusions to be reached – but the questions and observations listed below will be considered by the existing Jazz North East and Schmazz committees – and by those who are interested to join with them to work on develop jazz provision across the North East in the  future.

·         What liaison / co-operation happens at the moment?

·         What about establishing a North East Promoters Forum, meeting quarterly or bi-annually?

·         We need to welcome people who wish to get involved – various tasks, some strategic planning and development and fundraising, but others don't necessarily require committee involvement.

·         We need to acknowledge what has gone wrong.

·         Can we get involved with the Rural Touring Networks?

·         The Jazz North ‘menu’ of touring bands available at a subsidy. Lots of reservations about this expressed, including  “What happens to the bands who aren’t chosen?” 

·         There is a need to get the media on our side / a need to play in places where there’s a good chance of getting reviews / a need to promote the North as a cultural venue/resource.

·         The commissioning of work from musicians is important, and there could be Jazz North funds for this. 

·         How do we ‘brand’ jazz?

·         Are there too many venues, or too few? 

·         How do we reach out to younger audiences, and is the preponderance of older people a deterrent?

·         Should we attempt to present bands in publicly accessible, free spaces? 

·         We need to go to places where there are currently few gigs, but a potential audience – this might also include performances in schools.

·         What about putting on gigs in Student Unions?

·         Saltburn Jazz manage a diverse programme without subsidy, and still paying the musicians a decent fee.

·         We should trawl for alternative funding models.

·         Would it be possible to develop ‘jazz community’ investment through some form of community sharing?

·         Need to develop the educational element – workshops in schools, etc.

·         Pricing structures – should there be cheaper prices for students?  

·         Should we put on more double bills, providing increased variety, and thus attracting bigger audiences?
·         Perhaps we could encourage bands to bring their own favoured bands in as double bill partners?

·         Can we find a way to recreate the ‘Festival Experience’ – diverse programming with an “if you like this, you may like that” approach?

·         There is a need for festivals to reach out, with ‘outreach’ gigs and venues.  

·         Jazz is part of the entertainment business, so we need to make gigs more family-friendly.

·         The language we use can be extremely exclusive.

The evening concluded with an excellent performance from Zoe Gilby and Andy Champion.

Unusually, they had to compete with a lot of conversation which had been stimulated by the topics raised in the meeting.
*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *      

A joint Jazz North East and Schmazz committee meeting is to be held on Monday 12th November at 7.30pm.  Venue to be confirmed.

To get involved, or to find out more, please contact 

The Current Position                                                          
by Paul Bream
October 2012
Where we are, how we got here, and what we face
Although there are many clubs and organizations providing some level of jazz activity in the North East, the scale and nature of this provision varies widely, with a heavy emphasis on the Tyneside area. But even those Tyneside organizations which seem well established are at risk frm financial pressures and changes in the support mechanisms for jazz – the loss of the regional development agency Jazz Action has been a disappointment to many, and the impact of its successor organization is currently unclear.

Today’s open meeting is an attempt to address some of the issues that face the jazz community in the North East, and this document is intended to provide some background for discussion. It doesn’t claim to be comprehensive, and no doubt other facts and opinions will emerge during the course of the meeting. Hopefully, though, it will prove helpful in providing a context.
Jazz Action was established in 1986, with Adrian Tilbrook as its Jazz Development Officer.
Jazz Action received an annual budget from Northern Arts and its successor bodies, to be used for the development of all aspects of the jazz scene in the region. In recent years this funding has been used to support the following activities:
·        The Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra – directed by the internationally acclaimed composer and arranger John Warren, and widely recognized as the finest big band in the country.
·        ‘Splinter Group’ – a smaller group drawn from the ranks of the Voice of the North, with an emphasis on developing the compositional skills of its members
·        Milestones Jazz Workshops – monthly workshops held in Stockton-on-Tees for young musicians with an interest in developing their jazz skills.
·        ‘Splinter @ the Bridge’ – a weekly series of gigs acting primarily as a showcase for the most talented regional bands. All musicians were paid a guaranteed fee, subsidised by Jazz Action should ticket income be insufficient. Jazz Action also provided instrumental and technical support for these concerts (drum kit, lighting rig, PA).
·        The Jazz Action record label – this recorded promising regional bands and provided them with a short run of CDs which they could be used for promotional purposes and income generation. Around 20 recordings appeared on the label.
·        Showcase concerts – annual showcases for regional bands at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival and the Stockton Riverside Festival.
·        Regional touring – Jazz Action assisted bands in securing bookings at regional Arts Centres (e.g. Queen’s Hall, Hexham; Alnwick Playhouse), and provided those Arts Centres with funding and advice to stimulate jazz programming.
·        Funding, advice and technical support for key regional jazz promoters such as Jazz North East.
For most of its life Jazz Action was a ‘Regularly Funded Organisation’ (RFO) of the Arts Council. However, RFOs ceased to exist after March 2012, and Jazz Action was formally wound up at the end of September 2012.
The closure of Jazz Action, and the uncertainties surrounding new forms of support, means that the activities listed above, all financially supported by Jazz Action, seem likely to be lost, or at best seriously curtailed.
Jazz North East (JNE) was established by Northern Arts in 1966, and has throughout its existence been an entirely voluntary organization with no paid staff. Until the opening of The Sage Gateshead it was the main provider of high quality national and international jazz concerts in the Tyneside area. Throughout that period there has been scarcely a major UK or American jazz artist who has not appeared on at least one occasion at a JNE concert.
The opening of The Sage provided a new regional platform for the international ‘megastars’ of jazz, making them no longer available for JNE promotions. In response to this, JNE has consciously redefined its artistic territory, continuing to present leading British bands in a wide variety of styles, but internationally forging closer links with the more progressive (and thus less commercial) elements of the North American scene, and proactively building significant links with musicians from mainland Europe. In the past two years JNE has presented highly regarded musicians from the USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Romania and Poland. In a number of cases this has involved artists playing on Tyneside in their only UK performances outside London.

JNE is probably now held in higher esteem within the jazz community, nationally and internationally, artists and audience, than at any time in its existence. However, the fact that jazz is a minority art form (though no more so than other extremely well funded genres such as opera), and that JNE had developed a particular role in supporting more progressive areas of the music, means that its activity is unsustainable without grant support. While it has received grants from the Arts Council for specific projects, and is also in receipt of a small grant from Newcastle City Council, the bulk of funding for its core programme of concerts has for the past 25 years come from Jazz Action.  The closure of Jazz Action therefore means that JNE has lost its most reliable source of funding, and will struggle to sustain anything like such a high quality programme, and is at risk of losing the distinctive international component of its activity.    
Schmazz was established at the end of 1999 by the late Keith Morris with the primary intent of presenting Tyneside concerts by some of the UK’s younger jazz artists who were trying to take the music in new contemporary directions. To further encourage the spirit of innovation, Schmazz has only ever booked bands playing entirely their own original material. The organization presents one concert a month at the Cluny in Newcastle.
Following Keith’s untimely death in a road accident in 2005, Schmazz has been run by a voluntary committee which is committed to maintaining the principles he established. Over the past 12 years Schmazz has presented first North East appearances by many bands who have gone on to win wider national and even international acclaim. New bands emerging from the vibrant contemporary scenes around the UK now regard a Schmazz gig as a key component in achieving wider recognition.
Because of its commitment to presenting ‘up and coming’ bands rather than those with an established reputation and fan base, Schmazz is dependent on grant support to make it financially viable. It has intermittently received support from Newcastle City Council, but the bulk of its funding has always come from the Arts Council’s ‘Grants for the Arts’ system.  However, the Arts Council has become increasingly reluctant to fund regular programming, no matter how adventurous that may be, or how important to the development of the wider jazz scene.
As things stand, Schmazz has only felt confident to book bands to December of this year. It may be possible to struggle on to March 2012 by booking smaller bands and paying lower fees, but there seems little prospect that Schmazz can survive into the new financial year.
The promotion of contemporary jazz outside the Tyneside area is largely divided between two categories of providers:
·        Unfunded jazz clubs/societies such as Saltburn Jazz and the Opus 4 Jazz Club in Darlington. The financial position of these clubs means that their programmes consist almost exclusively of regional bands, and they are rarely if ever able to present national or international turing artists;
·        Local Authority supported arts centres such as the Arc in Stockton, the Gala Theatre in Durham and the Maltings in Berwick. For many years there was a monthly programme of high quality gigs at Darlington Arts Centre, but funding pressures meant that the frequency was gradually reduced, until the closure of the Arts Centre early in 2012 completely ended their programme. Now only the Queen’s Hall in Hexham sustains a reasonably regular jazz programme (at least one gig a month), while the others incline only towards the occasional presentation of more populist artists.
Although Jazz Action did not generally provide support for the presentation of national and international artists, it did encourage promoters throughout the North East to book high quality regional bands, and would where appropriate subsidise the fees for those bands. The demise of Jazz Action means that even this level of support is no longer available.
In the changing landscape for jazz development in the North, two organizations seem likely to be of major importance for the future:
·        Jazz North – this is the newly established jazz development agency for the whole of the Northern region, with funding from the Arts Council until March 2015. Although it will replace the formerly distinct agencies Jazz Action, Jazz Yorkshire and North West Jazzworks. It is clear that it will not replicate all the activities spreviously undertaken by those bodies. In particular it will not provide direct financial support to promoters such as Jazz North East to fund their regular programmes.
·        The Northern Volunteer Promoters Network – this is intended to be an expanded version of the Yorkshire Voluteer Promoters Network, which worked closely with the former Jazz Yorkshire. The Network is proposing to seek its own Arts Council ‘Grants for the Arts’ funding to support a range of activities (touring, education, festivals, etc), and is inviting promoters from the North East and North West to become partners.
While there is much to welcome in the opportunities for greater co-ordination throughout the North, and improved support structures for Northern-based artists, there is some concern that individual promoters will have less autonomy to shape their own programmes, and in particular to enrich the menu through the inclusion of national and international touring artists.
In order to face up to these changes, and to be in the best position to seek new funding, Jazz North East and Schmazz have agreed that they will merge from April 2013 – although sustaining the distinctive programming strands that hav emerged over the past decade. The decision has been welcomed by the Arts Council, who have suggested (without commitment) that the merged organization could apply for a Grants for the Arts award of up to £100,000 to support a three year programme of activity.
However, to attract such support it is essential that the new organization be greater than the sum of its parts. Amongst other developments, it needs to find ways to attract a wider, more diverse audience, it needs to maintain a balance between safe (but hig quality) mainstream programming and more adventurous (but risky) ventures, and if possible it neds to take on a wider regional dimension – the discrepancy between the name ‘Jazz North East’ and its purely Tyneside-based sphere of operations has been noted!
It is not envisaged that an expanded organization would take over the work of other clubs, societies and venues throughout the region, but a closer liaison would almost certainly be beneficial in sustaining the quality and reach of jazz provision in the North East. This may mean taking on some of the supportive role previously undertaken by Jazz Action, but perhaps expanding that to coordinate touring activity by bands from all parts of the UK and the wider jazz world.
Nothing has been ruled out, and nothing has been ruled in. The purpose of this open meeting is to open up discussion to anybody – musicians, promoters, audiences – who want to see jazz activity in the region not only maintained, but expanded. We are in the middle of a rapidly changing landscape, and the old maps no longer provide reliable guidance. We hope that this meeting will be the first step in charting a new direction.


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