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HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYRIAKI PANTELIDOU & RAY CARLESS

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Friday, September 02, 2016

New Century Ragtime Orchestra @ Ushaw Durham Jazz Festival August 27













(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Gordon Carlton)
Let us pray! The first words of Steve Andrews introducing the New Century Ragtime Orchestra in the hallowed surroundings of Ushaw College. Andrews’ one-liners came thick and fast, although on this engagement the band’s MC was pressed into action in
the reed section, occupying the chair usually reserved for Gavin Lee, resulting in an impressive display of  multi-tasking combining comic asides with first rate playing.
Gavin Lee, renowned clarinettist and saxophonist, assumed the drum chair, the band’s regular percussionist being unavailable for this concert date. Lee began playing jazz as Brian Carrick’s drummer, and now, after a number of years, he was to act as drum dep. The indications were good: a minimalist’s set-up of bass drum, snare and two cymbals. Piano duties were put the way of Paul Edis. One could be forgiven for thinking he had little else to do! Dr Edis donned a fetching white bow tie…
 King Oliver towers over the early years of the so-called ‘classic jazz era’. And so it was that the ensemble began with Too Bad, recorded by Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby introduced vocalist Caroline Irwin and she stayed on to sing I’m Through with Love. Not to be outdone, Jim McBriarty, affectionately known as the band’s boy singer asked the question: What do we do on a Dew, Dew, Dewy Day? Cole Porter’s Let’s Do It, Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh’s Doin’ the Low Down and a rather nice rendition, in French, sung by Irwin, of  J’attendrai were three of many great numbers played during two sets. Steve Andrews featured on the Jean Goldkette hit I’m Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now playing alto, either side of a string of witty observations, some of which poked fun, albeit gently, at some of his band mates.                    
 The New Century got down to playing some serious jazz on Ellington’s Black and Tan Fantasy. Andrews alluded to Bubber Miley and Arthur Whetsol in introducing Graham Hardy’s growling, plungered mute, trumpet part. The Northern Monkey did just fine, as did Ed Cross (violin), Edis, and Andrews himself playing clarinet. Patrol Wagon Blues produced more fine jazz as Hardy (trumpet), and McBriarty (vocals and arrangement),   took on a classic number. Steve Andrews reminded the audience of Henry ‘Red’ Allen’s fondness for the tune, so, no pressure on Messrs Hardy and McBriarty! The boys ‘done good’. MC Andrews picked up his tenor for some spirited playing on a rousing finale: Limehouse Blues. The New Century Ragtime Orchestra, to coin a phrase, should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. A unique ensemble doing invaluable work under the dedicated direction of band leader Dave Kerr, make a point of hearing the band.    
Footnote. MC Steve Andrews declared: Paul Edis is as significant as it gets [on the jazz scene] in the northeast.
Russell.
Steve Andrews (MC, tenor & alto saxophones, clarinet), Jim McBriarty (alto saxophone, clarinet & vocals), Alan Marshall (tenor & alto saxophones, clarinet), Graham Hardy (trumpet), Alistair Lord (trumpet); Neville Hartley (trombone); Ed Cross (violin); Keith Stephen (guitar & banjo); Paul Edis (piano); Phil Rutherford (sousaphone); Gavin Lee (drums) & Caroline Irwin (vocals)



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