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Bebop Spoken There

Dave Puddy: "Eventually we paid our entrance money [to Eel Pie Island] and fought our way to one of the many bars where we could buy our Newcastle Brown and retire to the back of the heaving dancefloor. There must have been lights somewhere, but my memory remains of being in some dark cavernous wonderland." - (Just Jazz July 2020)

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The Things They Say!

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11,612 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 747 of them this year alone and, so far, 11 this month (July 3).


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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Friday, December 04, 2015

My Gigs of the Year

Gig of the Year? CD of the Year? Might as well ask me, Pint of the Year? Well that one's easy, Greene King's Abbot Ale or their IPA Reserve,
Jazzwise it's not so clear cut so maybe I'll go venue by venue.
Festivals: GIJF and Mike Durham's Classic Jazz Party offered contrasting styles and the winner could only be decided according to taste. (Enrico Tomasso's Tribute to Bunny Berigan!) 
Ashington Jazz Club: I only made it to the open air gig by the Paul Skerritt Band but it was worth enduring the bitterly cold summer wind. Sadly, the actual club has now folded - if only Owen Brannigan, Jackie Milburn and the Charlton brothers had been jazz musicians!
Blaydon Jazz Club: Vasilis Xenopoulos with the Paul Edis Trio is a winner whether here, Ronnie's or Birdland.
Cherry Tree Restaurant: One of the more unsung venues (not on BSH!) Peter Wardle has presented jazz on a weekly basis and soloists on weekends (nightly throughout December) for several years now and, of all the gigs, few can compete with those by, either Jo Harrup or Alice Grace - and the foods fantastic!
The Globe: The Jazz Coop's innovative step into actually buying a pub to present live jazz in is surely one of the most adventurous steps ever taken by any group of core jazz fans anywhere in the world and providing workshops and tuition! Sadly, the high quality of the music hasn't always been supported by those they felt would be supportive. Nevertheless, the Maciek Pysz Trio last month was the icing on a year of great gigs.  
Hoochie Coochie: Where do I begin? The gigs by Jason Isaacs, Paul Skerritt, SSBB, Gerry Richardson's Big Idea, the Pilgrim St. Set, would sweep the board at any other venue but when Warren brings in the big guns like Soweto Kinch, Roy Ayers and a whole lot more the bar is lifted.
One thing is sure, if they're playing Hoochie - they've arrived!
Jazz Café: The death of Keith Crombie affected many of us and the sadness was reflected at his wake. Three years on, "The Caff" has been sanitised and is now a popular city centre jazz venue. As in days of yore, Pete Gilligan remains a pivotal figure and the biweekly Tuesday jam sessions he hosts are possibly the best attended gigs of them all! However,  JNE also promote gigs here as does the Jazz Café itself. Too many to single out but Bruce Adams with the Paul Edis Trio was exceptional!
Sage Gateshead: Apart from GIJF and the Americana hoedown there's lots of jazz going down. My personal leaning was for The Cookers and Davina and the Vagabonds at GIJF but away from the festival there was a tremendous gig by Ravi Coltrane and a sizzler by the Hot Sardines.
And the winner is?
You tell me!
CDs tomorrow.
PS: These, of course, are only the gigs I've made it to.


Liz said...

for me, it is always the annual John Wilson Orchestra at the Sage in November, this year it was Gershwin

shepherdlass said...

For me, no contest: Marcus Miller at the Sage in October was absolutely joyous.

Tony Eales said...

1) Maria Schneider @ London Jazz Festival
2) Bobby Shew @ London Jazz Festival
3) Phil Meadows & the Engines Orchestra @ Scarborough Jazz Festival

CD of the Year

1) Maria Schneider The Thompson Fields
2) Colin Towns Mask Orchestra Drama
3) National Youth Jazz Orchestra NYJO Fifty

Iain Kitt said...

The Joe Morris Quartet at the Bridge last night. Free improvisation of the highest order.

Paul Bream said...

Generally speaking I don’t contribute to ‘Best of’ lists because jazz today is such a gloriously varied music that comparisons are not just odious, they’re virtually impossible. How, for instance, can I measure the fierce free improv of Mette Rasmussen and Chris Corsano (at the Lit & Phil in July) against, just three days later, the bop-rooted explorations of Greg Abate? For me they were both great gigs, both hugely enjoyable, and in no meaningful way would I want to argue that one was ‘better’ than the other.

So, rather than try to compare chalk with cheese, perhaps I can pick out a handful of 2015’s gigs that illustrate the exhilarating diversity and creative energy of a music that still excites me as much as it did when I first encountered it more than 50 years ago. I could easily have picked out a different batch, and then a different batch again. It’s been a great year . . .

Laura Jurd Septet @ the Black Swan . . . the first of several Tyneside visits by the brilliant young trumpeter . . . all superb gigs, but this one further enhanced by the involvement of ground-breaking vocalist Lauren Kinsella.

VEIN @ the Lit & Phil . . . daring of Jazz North East to bring this virtually unknown (in the UK) Swiss piano trio to town, but what a triumph! Melodic, witty, unpredictable . . . a shining lesson that there is still plenty of creative mileage in the trio format. (Incidentally, they’ll be back in 2016 with the great American saxophonist Greg Osby.)

Jonathan Silk Big Band @ the Black Swan . . . a tremendous synthesis of the classic big band values of drive and swing with contemporary harmonic ideas and a constantly inventive deployment of the instrumental forces. Definitely put me in the mood (although not for ‘In the Mood’).

Jeff Herr Corporation @ the Jazz Café . . . another example of Jazz North East’s international adventurousness, this Luxembourg-based sax/bass/drums trio foregrounded rhythm and freewheeling melodic development in the manner of the great Sonny Rollins.

Joe Morris Quartet @ the Bridge Hotel . . . only gig in the UK for this brilliant group, producing some of the greatest free music I’ve heard in years. The guitar of Morris and viola of Mat Maneri in seemingly telepathic communication, with bassist Chris Nightcap and drummer Gerald Cleaver equal partners at every step.

One final point. After his Newcastle gig, Joe Morris emailed to say “Wonderful space and audience”, and it’s the sort of response that regularly comes from overseas musicians playing here - the Tyneside audience genuinely has an international reputation for being open-minded and appreciative listeners. I don’t believe in the concept ‘Gig of the year’ . . . but ‘Audience of the year’? You’ve got it cracked!

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