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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.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Newcastle University Postgraduate Recitals @ The Jazz Café. September 2

(Review by Russell)
Following the resounding success of staging several undergraduate final recitals earlier this year at the Jazz Café, two postgraduate students chose the Pink Lane venue to give their recitals in the presence of examiners, fellow students and supporters. Drinking tea, coffee or something a little stronger in a real jazz venue beats the cloistered campus set-up every time.
Stelios Arodites (alto saxophone) with Stuart Collingwood (piano)
Alto saxophonist Stelios Arodites walked onto the stage with a supportive pat on the back from accompanist Stuart Collingwood. The duo ready, Arodites embarked upon a journey of twenty minutes or so interpreting Phil Woods’ Sonata for alto saxophone and piano. A challenging work, composed for Victor Morosco’s 1962 solo recital at Carnegie Hall, the piece was originally named Four Moods, although thereafter it became known as Woods’ Sonata.
The composition presented four movements to negotiate with frequent changes in time signature (in places every two or four bars). In addition, some sections were marked free improvisation. Arodites played acoustically; tone rich and unwavering. Bespectacled Collingwood, the assured accompanist, the anchor, the buoy, Arodites’ reassurance. Each movement challenged the examinee, variously playing ‘tonic minor’, ‘modal’ – Arodites’ programme notes were most useful! The audience listened intently, a tension in the air. A ferocious section – alto traversing into gritty, grinding tenor territory – lifted the duo onto a higher plain. Mr Arodites is some player. His postgraduate studies continue into 2016, a further recital is to be scheduled.
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Richard Hammond (vibraphone) MMus Major Creative Project Recital
A familiar figure in and around the music department in Armstrong Building, Newcastle University, a youthful Richard Hammond, with carefully cultivated unruly mop-top, took to the stage in front of a full house. The folk glitterati were out in force (a superstar of the scene took her seat), Hammond was about to play a folk set. The improvised element did materialise, due in no small part to the virtuosic skills of his band mates. Vibraphone, not your regular folk instrument, took centre stage. To Hammond’s left, Callum Younger sat with bohdrán, a bearded rhythm master. The examinee’s presentation Room to grow: An exploration of improvisation and ‘free’ music within folk styles embraced the five string fiddler Robbie Sherratt (improvising for the Gaelic Isles), Alasdair Paul (bouzouki) and a couple of familiar faces – Jessica Bates (piano) and Mercedes Phillips (soprano sax). Ten or so tunes in three quarters of an hour, some of them Hammond compositions, others an eclectic mix including Michael ‘Snarky Puppy’ League’s Shofukan. Hammond referred to jazz players’ abilities to improvise and reharmonise and this has informed his studies. Using four mallets, Hammond’s writing skills opened-up tunes enabling the collective to improvise chorus upon chorus. The audience showed its appreciation. Another success at the Jazz Café.
Hammond’s band: Jessica Bates (piano), Alasdair Paul (bouzouki),  
Mercedes Phillips (soprano sax), Robbie Sherratt (fiddle), Callum Younger (bohdrán).
Russell.

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