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Bebop Spoken There

Ethan Iverson: "Mickey Roker played drums in church, and his beat on [Mary Lou] Williams' "Ode to St. Cecile" might make even a diehard atheist a believer" - (JazzTimes Sept. 2019).


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.

Today Sunday October 13



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

Vieux Carré Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. 12 noon.

Musicians Unlimited - Park Inn, Park Road, Hartlepool TS26 9HU. Tel: 01429 233126. 1:00pm. Free.

Hildy Harland’s Temperance Tea Party - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 1:00pm. £TBC.

Am Jam - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 3:00pm. Free.

Jazz Social - Charts, Quayside, Newcastle NE1 3DX. Tel: 0191 338 7989. 4:00pm. Free.


Davie T & The Razzberries - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 3:00pm. Free.



Lickety Split - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £6.00. (£3.00. student).

Jazz Jam - Fabio's, Saddler St., Durham DH1 3NP. 7:30pm. Free. Durham University Jazz Society. All welcome - sitters-in & listeners.

Wollo’s World - Bridge Hotel, Castle Garth, Newcastle NE1 1RQ. Tel: 0191 232 6400. 8:00pm. £8.00. & £6.00. Wolter Wierbos, John Pope, Emile Karlsen.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Great North Big Band Jazz Festival (Day 3) @ North Shore. March 8

(Review by Russell).
International Women’s Day. Six hundred plus musicians over three days at Sunderland’s Great North Big Band Jazz Festival, and, without doing a head count, a guesstimate of at least three hundred of the musicians being female, the North Shore event is an exemplar in participation for all. Day three crammed in more big band music than any sane person would consider attempting to organise. Festival Director Bill Watson and his merry band of helpers aren’t sane – they’re big band fanatics!
Ten o’clock Sunday morning. Another big band workshop – the educational aspect of the music world; the tutoring, the mentoring, instilling a life-long love of the music. Today’s competition programme split into two parts – schools and youth. Five school bands from near and far went into battle hoping to take home a National Glass Centre-commissioned trophy and a modest financial reward.
Four of the bands had travelled a distance and one of the ensembles from west of the Pennines – Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Swing Band – were first up. Conducted by Colin Myers, the Altrincham boys had, in fact, taken up residence in Sunderland University student accommodation for the whole weekend. Their Friday evening performance stood them in good stead and they were on the case from the get-go. At the conclusion of their four number set, consensus of opinion was they would be hard to beat.
Another band from the north west – Bolton School Jazz Band – tackled four pieces including one by the ubiquitous big band composer Gordon Goodwin. Mask of the Chilli Pepper (comp. Beach and Shutak) featured strong solos (trumpet and saxophone). MD Fiona Berry was, no doubt, satisfied with her charges’ efforts.
Whitworth Park School Big Band (MD Victoria Seymour) from County Durham included Jumpin’ at the Woodside and Blues in the Night. Whitworth Park is a developing band and no matter that they were short on numbers (the saxophone section comprised a lone tenor player), they gave it their best shot.
Previous winners St Aidan’s Swing Band travelled up the A1 from Harrogate with a talented squad looking to regain their title. MD Vicki Elliott submitted a four-tune set including Bye Bye Blackbird and TWA (Trumpets with Attitude). The North Yorkshire band usually boasts a strong trumpet section and the 2015 contingent maintained the tradition.
The final band up for scrutiny was the 2014 title-winning Shropshire outfit Abraham Darby Academy Jazz Band. The academy school runs several ensembles – wind, brass, classical chamber, jazz and others. An enviable set-up. Such is the quality of musicianship the band recently toured North America and dropped in at Carnegie Hall to perform in concert (as you do!). This North Shore engagement featured a thirteen-strong reeds section and lost nothing in terms of focus and clarity. MD Tom Gledhill (and his absent co-MD Doug Bill) was surely delighted with the band’s dynamism, particularly the startlingly good Gordon Goodwin chart Hunting Wabbits.
Adjudicators Paul Jones and Mick Donnelly observed that the standard of this year’s bands was the highest yet heard at the Sunderland event.
Adjudicators’ Award: Bass guitar, Bolton School Jazz Band
Adjudicators’ Award: Amber Skoropinski (tenor saxophone) Whitworth Park School Big Band
Adjudicators’ Award: Abraham Darby Academy Jazz Band for Hunting Wabbits
Adjudicators’ Award: Soloists on Mask of the Chilli Pepper Bolton School Jazz Band

Most Entertaining Programme: Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Swing Band
Best Section: Brass Section, St Aidan’s Swing Band
Best Soloist: Tom Knowles (piano) St Aidan’s Swing Band
Best Band: Altincham Grammar School for Boys Swing Band  

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Swing Band took to the stage once more, this time with Paul Jones squeezing into the saxophone section, to play a celebratory tune – and what a tune! Pharrell Williams’ Happy. Never has there been a more appropriate title. Jones enjoyed listening to his new-found band mates and they in turn (the altoists in particular) couldn’t stop smiling as the BBC Big Band alto star made everyone HAPPY!
The Youth Section attracted ten bands. The Tyne Valley Youth Big Band, buoyed by the success of the senior band in yesterday’s Open Section event, performed with verve. Birdland and the Youngblood Brass Band’s Brooklyn bookended a great set. MD Dave Hignett has really got the Tyne Valley buzzing with talented musicians beating a path to the band’s Hexham rehearsal base.
Jambone, based at Sage Gateshead, made their debut at Sunderland this weekend. Following a period of change for Jambone, MD Paul Edis is slowly, but surely, filling vacant chairs in the band. Enthusiasm and talent is pulling the band through, with Echoes, one of four numbers heard, a standout success. Musicians of the calibre of Bradley Johnston (guitar) will ensure a bright future for the band.
Durham County Youth Big Band dug deep into the music’s foundations with Lennie Niehaus’ Looking Back (muted trumpets). Thomas McDonald (trombone) performed confidently on Sunflower and the ensemble examined The Creep having worked on it in a workshop with multi-instrumentalist Al Wood. Vocalist Lottie Evans sang the popular  Skyfall – a difficult tune, performed very well by Ms Evans. MD Shaune Eland has yet another crop of promising young musicians to work with.
MD Seam Miller stayed on having directed Huddersfield University Big Band the previous day to conduct another of his bands, previous winners, Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra. Harold Arlen’s I’ve Got the World on a String and Jumpin’ at the Woodside showcased a classy, swinging band.
Tyneside’s Paraffernalia once again supported the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival. This year’s entry included Hard Bargain and Horace Silver’s Song For My Father. All sections were called upon to offer s soloist and all cut the mustard – Alex Williamson (trumpet), Cameron Barker (trombone), Ben Gorman (alto sax) and Nathan Lawson (guitar). MD David Blakey is lucky to have more than one drummer to call upon (young Dylan Thompson sitting in on one number). This was another successful outing for the band. They’re certain to return.
Scarborough’s EASY Youth Jazz Orchestra featured Round Midnight with a measured trombone solo by Adam Quilter. Big bands often feature vocalists but it is a rarity to hear a male singer. The band’s joint MDs – Nigel Blenkiron and Ralph Alder clearly has confidence in Andrew Williams singing Cry Me a River. A difficult tune sung with steely nerve.
KMS Shelley Music Centre Big Band turned up with eleven saxophonists and a vibes player (big band bus, no doubt). MD Simon Mansfield put together a cracking set – The Jazz Police, Mi Corazon, Watermelon Man and, a real highlight – Stolen Moments (flugel Rafi Siraj, vibes Alistair Maitland).
Title holders Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra came to Sunderland determined to win again. Sharp suits, ties, they looked the business. Frank Mantooth charts were prominent in the band’s competition entry. The opener – Alianza – by Erik Morales rocketed the band to the top of the betting. MD Dave Little did little in the way of conducting, for long periods standing aside – a sure sign things were going well. A Mantooth arrangement of Harlem Nocturne had the bookies paying out ahead of the finish. They rarely back the wrong horse/band. Moten Swing (arr. Sammy Nestico) with solos from Jamie Edgerton (tenor) and Laurie Duncan (trumpet) was of senior band standard (so said one sage judge) and Mantooth’s Council Grove Groove wrapped it up (the set, if not the competition).
Festival organiser Bill Watson picked up the baton to MD the Tees Valley Youth Big Band. Catch As Catch Can heard good tenor from James Burchmore, ‘S Wonderful was, The Londonderry Air (a 1970’s arrangement by Dick Walter for NYJO) featured the saxophone section and tenor man Burchmore once more took the honours on Blue Skies.
The tenth and final band of the competition didn’t disappoint. Kirkless Youth Jazz Orchestra had listened to the opposition and were ready to go. Hay Burner romped along (saxes and trumpets) and then, the second male vocalist of the afternoon joined the band to sing Feeling Good. Bradley Johnson stood front of stage, confident, big voice. An excellent version of the Bricusse/Newley classic. Kitty Byrne swapped the piano stool for a place with the reeds playing clarinet on Sing Sang Sung. Much applause, well deserved. The adjudicators’ job almost done, Jones and Donnelly confessed it had been a close call – the standard across the board had been extremely high.

Adjudicators’ Award: George Hardwick (trombone) Kirklees Youth Jazz Orchestra
Adjudicators’ Award: Bradley Johnson (vocals) Kirklees Youth Jazz Orchestra
Adjudicators’ Award: Ensemble & Matty Harvey (baritone saxophone) EASY Youth Jazz Orchestra
Adjudicators’ Award: Jambone performance of Echoes (comp. Paul Edis)

Best Section: Rhythm Section, KMS Shelley Music Centre Big Band
Best Soloist: Ben Withers (drums) Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra
Best Band: Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra

So, the best band prizes went west. Outstanding bands, no doubt about it. All the bands competing over the weekend were, one way or another, outstanding. The event ran like clockwork thanks to Bill Watson’s small army of helpers. North Shore is the ideal spot for the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival, next year’s event can’t come soon enough.      

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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: I look forward to hearing from you.

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