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Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Millstone. December 19

(Review by John Peace).
It was a cold, grey damp Thursday afternoon in South Gosforth when having gotten all my timings wrong for wandering around Majestic wines and meeting up with a friend I found myself with a couple of hours to kill. No problem I thought, just go to the Brandling ( a pub last visited when I was in the 6th form at St Mary's) and have a couple of quiet pints. Well quiet was out the question as the place had a couple of large raucous groups in and there's nothing that makes you feel more like 'johnny no mates' than standing at the bar on your own when everyone else is laughing and the air is filled with loud chatter!
Still all was not lost, there was always the Millstone to try, so I braved the rain and wind and headed there, pushed open the door to be met with the unmistakeable aroma of Christmas dinner and the gentle hubbub of conversation, this will do I thought so a pint of Tyneside Blonde was duly ordered.
Pint in hand I took in the bar, which turned out to be full, all the tables and chairs taken, across in the corner a banner proclaimed 'Vieux Carré Jazzmen'. Aah great I thought some Jazz for the afternoon, maybe some mellow Miles or John Coltrane maybe even a bit Sonny Stitt. An announcement from the band area "will the gentlemen of the orchestra please come and attend to their instruments" Sure enough half a dozen guys made their way forward and the unmistakeable sound of instrument being prepared filled the air. One of them wanders to the microphone, welcomes everyone for coming and duly announces that todays session would start with a song from 1925! Oh god no... not trad jazz a music form I've never liked or appreciated, time to drink up and head for Newcastle and with three quarters of a pint to finish it wasn't going to be a quick escape.
So the band started up, now here was something new, this wasn't the Trad Jazz I'd heard in the past. This was something more melancholic, slower paced and definitely more pleasant on the ear! These guys were/are consummate musicians, playing with some style and a clear love and feeling for this music. The audience were clearly enjoying it too, applauding every solo  and generally getting in to the swing of things. Before I knew it I'd ordered a second pint and was applauding the end of the session. Next to me at the bar was a guy who’d been ‘foot tappin’ along to the tunes, so I turned to him and asked a little about the band, discovering they've been around in one form or another since the fifties and the trumpet player, Fred Rowe was in his mid eighties and the average age was comfortably in the 70's, new found admiration for these guys!
Third pint ordered and time for the second session to start. My old fears returned as the first couple of songs sounded, at least to my ears, that each of them were playing a different tune. But then Minnie The Moocher was introduced as the next song, the only song played that I recognised the title of, being familiar with the Cab Calloway version. Now this one was different and actually had an air of authenticity about it that said "I was here first" and contained enough ho di ho's in it to keep everyone happy as the audience joined in!
Pint no. 4 was duly ordered, this Tyneside Blonde is a lovely pint and goes down easily! The band were coming to the end of their set and finished with a song called Goin' or maybe Comin' home, for me this was the best tune played it had a distinct feel of the Blues to it and so ended the session to appreciative applause from everyone in the audience.
With the 21st century speeding past outside it was time to leave the warmth and comfort of the 1920's behind and get some Christmas shopping done and meet up with my friend. Now if you've ever got a bit time to kill and happen to see the Vieux Carré Jazzmen are playing, do yourself a favour and "come in out of the rain to hear the jazz go down."
Also I’ll be following your blog from now on.
Cheers and Merry Christmas




John Peace

1 comment :

Brian (banjo) Bennett said...

Great review, John! It seems the old jazzers (with more than a little help from the Tyneside Blonde) hooked you then reeled you in. Hope to see you again, but next time introduce yourself and have a word!

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