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Bebop Spoken There

Vadim Neselovskyi, Professor of Jazz Piano, Berklee College of Music: “Every pianist has to deal with a very complex left-hand part at some point. This is the essential pianistic experience – to split your brain into two halves and execute two very different tasks at the same time.” – (Down Beat September 2017).

Roscoe Mitchell: “To me, improvisation is trying to improve your skills so you can make these on-point compositional decisions. That takes practice.” – (Down Beat September 2017)

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Today Saturday September 23

Scarborough Jazz Festival - Day two of three.
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Evening
Bradley Johnston (solo guitar) - Cherry Tree, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 2AE. 7:30pm. No cover charge.
Rockafellas - Billy Bootleggers, 28 Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free.
Tobie Carpenter Organ Trio - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm. £10.
Thin Man + Jon Gordon - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm. Free.
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Nikki Iles & Stan Sulzmann - Great Hall, Hexham Abbey, Hexham NE46 3NB. 10pm. £10/£8.
Pat McMahon Trio - Tannery, Gilesgate, Hexham NE46 3QD. 01434 605537. 9pm. Free.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Jazz North East/Schmazz - Olie Brice Quintet @ Jazz Café. May 31










Ollie Brice (Double Bass); Mike Fletcher (Alto); George Crawley (Tenor);
Alex Bonney (Cornet); Jeff Williams (Drums).
(Review by Steve T/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
What to do on a cold Tuesday night in almost June?  Number two son is toying with a trip to the cinema to don his 3D specs like Cyclops and save the world from the bad mutants once more. A slight nudge and there's an excuse for a trip to the Caff for some live Jazz.
I couldn't afford a sports car for my mid-life crisis so a couple of bright coloured shirts more suitable for a man half my age and a couple of band shirts a kid a third of my age would've outgrown will have to do. Sun Ra proved perfect for some free, mutant jazz from somewhere in outer space, two stars to the left of the upstairs gents at the caff.
Sorry pianists and guitarists but I'm always drawn to bands without any obvious comping instrument. Back in the fifties, Peck Morrison left the Gerry Mulligan Sextet because of the demands on a bass player in a band without a piano, so it's perhaps no surprise that the leader of this band is the bass player. 
He told me he's done it the old-fashioned way, without a university education, at least not in music. This could explain his unorthodox style, or at least it seems that way to a non-musician, lay-person like myself. His technique includes some bass slapping like Mick Shoulder doing his rockabilly thing, only different. 
For once I was ahead of the game; a handwritten set-list from the man himself, which turned out to be illegible and he didn't stick to it anyway. It made no difference which is increasingly becoming the norm, and no bad thing either.
The first set kicked off with a lengthy cornet/ bass duo before the rest of the band joined in for what seemed to me like funeral music, but of the joyous southern black celebration variety.
The second piece began slowly with full ensemble before the tenor was away with bass and drums in support. Back to the head then it's the turn of alto, honking and squeaking like Trane (on soprano) half way through fifty seven minutes of 'my favourite things'.
Next up, some Zappaesque doodling, free, with no discernible pulse throughout; what Frank used to do to set up his explosions
The set ended with the only non-original of the night; If You Were the Only Girl in the World, cornet taking the first solo and by the time tenor takes over the source material is barely perceptible. This earns him the first applause of the night for a solo. Alto is up next and is similarly rewarded, perhaps more protocol than spontaneity, and there's nothing for bass and drums. Perhaps another topic overdue for discussion!
Set two opens with more of the same, followed by what the composer referred to as a sort of ballad entitled What Might Have Been. Drums open things up with the sticks with the nice furry pompoms and the band comes in behind another alto solo, honking away happily, followed by a much smoother more polished solo on tenor bringing some great contrast.  
Then it's time for me to leave; the bad mutants defeated, Apocalypse vanquished and the X Men back with the bald guy in a wheelchair in his school for gifted youngsters, and number two son needing a lift home.
Steve T.

5 comments :

  1. Applause for solos? An interesting topic, and one where the norm (the 'protocol', as the review puts it) definitely seems to be shifting.
    And 'protocol' is just what the practice had become; back in the days when virtually every jazz performance followed the same trajectory of theme statement, round of solos, and then back to the theme (with maybe a few fours or eights thrown in), it seemed to be de rigeur for audiences to applaud every solo, even when they weren't very good! But most of the more interesting contemporary jazz doesn't adhere strictly to that pattern, with the intercutting of composed and improvised sections, a good deal of collective improvisation between two or more instruments, and other variations that have blurred the distinction between solo and ensemble performance . . . so at what point is it appropriate to break into applause? It's perhaps significant that the only occasion on which there was such applause at the Olie Brice gig was when the band played 'If You Were the Only Girl in the World', a tune even older than I am, and perhaps subconsciously awakening memories of old practices!
    Perhaps because Jazz North East has increasingly favoured the more contemporary approach in its programming, the audience has largely got out of the habit of applauding solos, even when bands do follow the old head-solos-head pattern. This can be disconcerting to some older musicians (on more than one occasion I've been asked "Didn't they like me?"), but in general I think it's a welcome development; jazz at its best is a collective endeavour and experience, not a competition for prima donnas, so it's all to the good that it's increasingly the whole rather than the parts which draw the applause.

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  2. I agree entirely, audiences are becoming increasingly confused as to when to applaud, myself included.
    I recall seeing Esperanza Spalding, Gerri Allen and Terri Lynne Carrington at the Barbican; they operate the policy of only letting people in between pieces but the only indication the staff have is when the audience applaud and I remember hordes of people piling in following a drum solo. It was hilarious.

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  3. Thanks Paul for an interesting post. As a music lover (but not a musician) I have often wondered, when successive solos are played, whether the soloist following on is miffed by the fact that the applause for the previous soloist overuns the beginning of his/her solo.

    I must admit I have sometimes thought the first person to applaud after a solo may wish others to know that they know when the solo ended!

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  4. It's a tricky one. There are obvious moments, such as a tender ballad where, however good the solo the ambience would be lost by applause, however well-meaning. By the same token, there are some solos that it would be churlish not to acknowledge. Also, the artists themselves frequently request acknowledgement of a colleague after a solo. I remember an Alex Welsh gig where Alex would point to the soloist and say 'make him happy' irrespective of how unhappy he'd made us! Although, in fairness, this was rarely the case with the Welsh band. For me, the early JATP recordings, got me into jazz. The honking tenors, the screaming trumpets, the drum battles, the crowd roaring them on. Jazz has changed so much since then and I take the point Paul makes that it is the whole rather than the parts which now draw the applause on the contemporary scene. Nevertheless, if a solo moves you put your hands together. I did that listening to a CD recently - at home!

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  5. Never applauded a CD but I do now find myself applauding solos at rock, soul, blues, folk, whatever gigs.
    Applause for the initial solo at Ollie Bryce I felt was genuinely spontaneous though people had hitherto been hesitant, and I thought the next applause was protocol. Ideally, applause should be for a 'good' solo rather than any solo.
    It gets tricky when it's kids who you want to encourage but Doctors Edis and Birkett are very good at orchestrating this.
    Grownups should (wo)man-up and not get upset if they don't get applause but put more into it if they can't hack not getting recognition.
    A similar issue is the encore and sometimes you really don't need another but get it anyway.

    ReplyDelete

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About this blog - contact details.

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: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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