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Bebop Spoken There

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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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August

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Off Key by Mark Robertson.

(Just a reminder that Mark Robertson's excellent first novel is officially launched this Saturday June 28 - follow this link to learn more - Lance)
The definitive jazz novel, in my opinion, has yet to be written despite the efforts of many well known literary figures. Evan Hunter's Second Ending perhaps came closest - until now that is.
Mark Robertson's Off Key could only be written by someone at the heart of a provincial jazz scene and whilst I'm sure it isn't semi-autobiographical, the characters and situations are so familiar and, occasionally, thinly disguised it might well be. The fact that it's set in the north-east adds credence to the theory. 
Fiction it well may be, but it does relate to life in the jazz lane - The grotty gigs out in the wilds with an audience of three, the rusting band van forever breaking down, the wayward self-destructing genius, the struggle to maintain a home life with a jazz life, the conflicting personalities in any group of two or more (in this case four) etc.
Mark Robertson has successfully merged all these ingredients and more into 108,000 words - not one of which I skipped - particularly page 262 where a well known jazz blog is mentioned!
Off Key began life as a screenplay before surfacing as a novel.. If it ever reverts to its original format the BBC or ITV will have no problem with the casting - they're all in a jazz club near you.
The author's cover comment "The greatest story ever told about love ... and jazz (in Sunderland)" perhaps needs to be amended to cover a wider area! Highly recommended.
Mark Robertson's novel, Off Key  is published by Matador Press and available now.
ISBN: 9781784620073 - Paperback; £8.99 
eISBN: 9781784626785 - ebook: £2.99
Lance.
Synopsis. 
OFF-KEY BY MARK ROBERTSON                             
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD ABOUT LOVE and jazz . . . in Sunderland.
Once unheard of, Charlotte and Kyle’s relationship is becoming ever more commonplace in today’s society. She is the breadwinner and Kyle, in his own eyes at least, is a musical genius. Should Charlotte accept playing second fiddle to a saxophone or should she listen to her best friend, Dainty.
 “One day you’ll wake up. Kyle will be gone and you’ll be left with a basket of dirty Y fronts and ovaries that look like walnuts.”
Will Charlotte take Dainty’s advice and go?  And if she does what is left for Kyle? Only an autistic boy to get through a music exam and an alcoholic has-been to rehabilitate.
As for Dainty, why should she be beholden to vows that he cast aside for nothing more than a shag with her best friend?  “For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” . . . in bed with her and in bed with her bridesmaid! Bastard!
Author Mark Robertson, himself a professional musician, has written about a present day dilemma, what role should each person play in a relationship?  He knows the half-world of gigs and record producers, all waiting for that elusive break, those partners who cheer them on and the others whose patience sometimes runs out. 

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