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11,740 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 880 of them this year alone and, so far, 17 this month (August 4).

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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sean Noonan & the Suwalki String Quartet @ The Bridge Hotel. November 17

Sean Noonan (drums & vocals), Adam Roszkowski (violin), Afan Asjew (violin), Magda Malecka (viola) & JanRoszkowski (cello)
(Review by Russell/Photo by Ken Drew). 
Odd ball New Yorker Sean Noonan returned to the Bridge Hotel with a string quartet in tow. Drums and strings…the writing had to be on the outside and it was. Noonan wrote the music and lyrics. His storytelling took the form of narration rather than conventional singing. The narrative – A Gambler’s Hand – wove the strange tale of a man trapped in a wall (the wall of the Bridge Hotel, said Noonan). He, the man, broke free and travelled the world – perhaps in a dream, because, after all, he was trapped in a wall. We were in a dream, said Noonan. The audience believed him…well, some of us did.
Clad in boxer’s gown and shorts, the King of Kitsch called the shots, counting in the strings with no more than a stare and a nod. Filigree percussion flitted in and out of the strings, dancing like a butterfly, expertly evading the atonal sting of a fiddler’s elbow. Then with a nod and a stare, a stare and a nod, the man from Brooklyn put the hammer down (The Reincarnation of Several Hammers - John Henry style). The Hub may be in abeyance but Noonan has lost none of the explosive power heard in the NYC power trio’s numerous visits to Tyneside over a period of a decade or so. Razor-sharp drumming (Noonan’s forte) challenged the Suwalki Strings to read the dots and keep up with the pace. The American force-fed them Forced Meatballs – they appeared to like them! The violins did just that – Afan Asjew threw down a solo, winning applause and later Adam Roszkowski went on the counter attack putting his bandleader on the ropes. Cellist Jan Roskowski, hidden behind dark shades, played some dark material, the strings’ secure foundation. Magda Malecka (viola) added tonal contrast, the quartet perhaps heard to best effect when Noonan dropped out. Noonan didn’t sit on his stool for too long, metaphorically or literally. Ever busy, he covered the kit sitting or standing. The comic element emerged from time to time.
A Tommy Cooper – Les Dawson episode (probably lost on the American) required expert timing. Bouncing sticks off the snare, catching them, then, clumsily, not. A clutch of sticks spilled out over snare and toms, the actions of a bungling incompetent. Cooper the trickster, Dawson the pianist, they always pulled it off, the last laugh theirs. So too, Sean Noonan. Sticks gathered up, a brief drum master class concluded the sketch. The doubters were silenced. No they weren’t, they were applauding wildly! Noonan’s big hit – Drunkard Landlady – smeared boozy red lipstick across the audience. Was that a hint of garlic? Hey! Sean, give the lady what she wants! According to the man from Brooklyn she has taken up residence at the Bridge Hotel. Let me out of here!          
(Russell).

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