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Bebop Spoken There

Tony Fisher: In the heyday of that scene [the1960s] there were about 120 musicians in London who did everything and of course, if you made a mistake you were never called again." - (Jazz Journal online, 19 September 2019).

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COFID- 19

In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

However, good old YouTube has plenty to offer both old and new to help us survive whilst housebound. Plus now is a good time to stock up on your CDs.

Also, keep an eye out for live streaming sessions.

Alternatively, you could do as they do in Italy and sing from your balcony.

Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"James "Blood" Ulmer @ Rich Mix, Bethnal Green. EFG London Jazz Festival - November 13

James "Blood" Ulmer (guitar, vocal), Mark Peterson (bass guitar), Aubrey Dayle (drums).
(Review by Steve T).
This is my fifth consecutive London Jazz Festival but the first time I wanted to go for the endurance, or at least nine out of the ten nights. Things were already skewered by events back home in the North East, including The Cookers and Robert Glasper swapping nights with London. I knew early on I was going to the second Saturday so Plan A was Tuesday to Sunday. When James ‘Blood’ Ulmer was announced for the first Sunday, two trips became the only solution.

Ulmer’s music is widely heard as a blend of Jazz, blues, funk, rock and punk-rock, though I would refute the latter; I doubt very much that he spent his time listening to the Sex Pistols and the Clash or even the New York Dolls and Ramones. I suspect his indifference to tonality and revolutionary instincts come from Hendrix, Zappa, Beefheart, his blues influences (John Lee Hooker, Alberts King and Collins), his funk influences (particularly the P variety) and his old boss Ornette Coleman.
He has claimed nothing has happened with the guitar since Hendrix - not a view I share - but, despite his greatness and importance, Hendrix' music was mostly riff, verse, chorus, solo, mostly in 4/4. It would be impossible to accuse Blood of that. As a guitarist he's not really a virtuoso - that isn't the point - he's rough and raw and roars; there's nothing much by way of melody to whistle along to - and on occasion, pieces seem to just come to a sudden abrupt ending, and, as with Beefheart, - my guess as to the punk-rock confusion - there's far more going on than first meets the ear.
When playing in a bass-less violin trio he strings his guitar differently and occasionally employs horns and backing vocals in much bigger bands, the focus and emphasis of styles shifting accordingly. Tonight was about the power trio and the album Are you Glad to be in Americacoincidentally the only vinyl album I had by him and, while it's readily available in that format, a CD would cost a couple of limbs and whichever of my bright fancy, shirts I was wearing at the time. Instead, I bought nine albums, all of them good, and all a similar mix of styles but with the focus shifting according to the band and the musicians in that band. 

Rich Mix had wisely removed all chairs since they hosted Kandace Springs the previous evening. The faithful formed a tight throng emanating out from the stage, anticipation of greatness in the atmosphere. Anybody who turned up because it was a Jazz gig, anticipating silence from the audience and polite applause between solos, was destined for disappointment. Likewise, anyone who thought they were in for a bit of nostalgic hopping and hockling, with police riot squads arriving on cue, like we get from the BBC every time punk rock is mentioned. Although the throng noticeably thinned, numbers largely held up.

My plus one for the evening, a lifelong Bowie fanatic which has spilled over to Iggy and, early on, I turned to him and said Raw Powerthe title of one of Mr. Pops most famous albums. A couple next to us danced throughout - soul/ jazz-funk style - and I commended him on his lady, pointing out that my missus only allows this kind of thing under suffrage. A chap at the bar engaged me about the respective ages of Blood and Hendrix, was the latter still alive?
When you have a 'runaway train' like Blood and it feels like anything can happen, it's sometimes necessary to have a bass and drums pairing to keep it grounded, and I don't believe anybody could have done a better job than Peterson and Dayle in keeping this difficult music together.
The bass solo began fairly low key, but, once he got his funk on, it seemed to last the remainder of the set. I've seen so many slap bass players over the years that I tend to take most of them for granted but he seemed to find even more notes! Like Jaco in the live version of Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz from 8:30.
Singling out individual pieces would be pointless, even though the venue very helpfully provided me with a set-list (as well as the names of the band), but I only recognised a few, even though I've heard them all. It was about being there, living the moment, a little imbibing and lots of camaraderie among the faithful making it, not just a fantastic concert but a great night all round.  

Steve T.

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