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Bebop Spoken There

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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.

Monday, December 19, 2016

George MacDonald & James Birkett with the Roly Veitch Trio @ The Black Bull December 18.

George MacDonald (clarinet), James Birkett (guitar), Roly Veitch (guitar & vocals), Paul Grainger (double bass) & David Francis (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photos courtesy of Bradley Johnston & Roly).
The Black Bull staff prepared the room for Blaydon Jazz Club’s annual Christmas party. A long table set aside would soon be groaning under the weight of a food mountain. The tradition is to bring an offering, be it savoury or sweet. Donated items boosted the raffle resulting in no fewer than nine prizes being up for grabs. At precisely eight the orchestra began the evening’s entertainment playing to a full house.

Autumn Leaves opened the set. Messrs MacDonald, Veitch, Birkett, Grainger and Francis introduced themselves, musically speaking, one by one. Mr George MacDonald (clarinet) enjoys the respect of all – musicians and listeners alike – as a first class musician and as a most amiable character. A working life, principally as a member of the Northern Sinfonia based on Tyneside, established Canadian ex-pat Mr MacDonald’s reputation among peers in the classical field and beyond. Happily revisiting his jazz-playing youth, MacDonald’s hero – Benny Goodman – was, and is, with him in spirit whilst on stage. A Black Bull gig in the company of friend James Birkett couldn’t be other than a stroll through some of the great songs of the twentieth century. Ain’t Misbehavin’ called upon guitarists Birkett and Veitch to do their thing – contrasting, complementary styles, supported by a sympathetic, easy-going bass and drums partnership comprising Paul Grainger and David Francis.

The star of the show, George MacDonald, sat centre stage, in his element listening to, and playing clarinet on a selection of classic numbers; Wave, a swift Flying Home, prompting MacDonald to say: That was really cookin’, as the Americans would say!  Then Someone to Watch over Me a brief calming interlude before MacDonald called a ridiculously super fast tempo on Lady Be Good. The younger men of the ensemble did their best to keep up!

The interval – the full house scaled the food mountain, the numerous raffle prizes found a home and before long Mr MacDonald suggested It Don’t Mean a Thing…Yes, the quintet returned to the stage, and off they went, most definitely with that swing. More Jobim took it down a notch, a time for Meditation. Our clarinet star featured on Over the Rainbow (a request) and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, the audience stilled. A tasteful solo with brushes in hand from David Francis on Don’t Get Around Much Anymore caught the approving ear of Mr MacDonald. Blaydon Jazz Club’s Christmas gathering couldn’t have gone any better. Highlights were many, a particular highlight being a lightning fast take on After You’ve Gone. MacDonald set the pace, Veitch, Birkett, Grainger and Francis did their level best to hang on to the coat-tails of the Canadian clarinet virtuoso as he almost disappeared over the horizon. Come on boys, keep up!
Blaydon Jazz Club will reconvene in March next year, details to be advised, please check Bebop Spoken Here nearer the time.
Photos.             

Russell.          

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