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Bebop Spoken There

Brian Carrick: "I contacted Max Jones of Melody Maker and offered to be his correspondent in the States, but I should have done what Ken Colyer had done, get a job on a ship and then jump ship in the States. So I didn't make it [to New Orleans] till 1973." - (Just Jazz May 1999)

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COVID-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.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

HTrio @ The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle - December 4

Mark Hanslip (tenor), Otto Willberg (bass), Andrew Cheetham (drums). 
(Review by Steve T/Photo courtesy of Ken Drew)
Having been floored by the unrelenting intensity of the JD Allen Trio, it will be some time before I dare miss another sax, bass and drums trio, and this one a mere fifty mile round trip. 
On the surface, they were the same thing, but in reality were worlds apart. Like the folky regulars downstairs in the Bridge who seemed to spontaneously burst into a version of Sloop John B which couldn't quite decide whether it was skiffle or novelty West Coast boy band; (oops, another sacred cow sacrificed).
Good evening ladies and gentlemen he'd intended to say but realised there weren't any ladies in da house. Not too many men either but such is the nature of this type of thing, though I'm not sure how people knew it would be so free; I certainly didn't. A late arrival bolstered the numbers to around sixteen including Jazz North East people and a lady who appeared to thoroughly enjoy it. It's also worth noting that the numbers more or less held up for the second part.

We got two set long pieces of roughly forty-five minutes, though I don't know how they kept track of time since the notion of an ending seemed entirely arbitrary. I certainly lost track of time, which is a good indicator. Neither piece was given a title and, chatting with the drummer and bass player (the smokers though I'm not) during the interval, I told them about a live Derek Bailey album where, when asked for an encore, he asked if they wanted him to do it again.
In the spirit of Miles at the Isle of Wight, I propose More of the Same for the second piece since what we got, as far as I can tell, was one continuous improvisation with a break in the middle, much needed by band and audience.

Once again Trane was the touchstone and, for the drummer at least, specifically Interstellar Space. Inevitably Ornette Coleman was the other major influence and I'm reminded that much of his seminal stuff was piano-less. Albert Ayler, another major Free Jazz saxophonist claimed that sounds were more important than solos and this was much in evidence here, Otto wielding his bow, Mark getting popping sounds from his sax, and Andrew with his chair of tricks, including a conveyor belt of sticks as he discarded or lost them, a tea towel, what looked like a log and a metal dish thingy.

Weather Report said “we never solo, we always solo” and this is far truer of HTrio. At least four times during part one it burst into something approximating rhythmic; in part two the drummer appeared to take a fully blown drum solo but his colleagues just continued. He told me he's a jobbing pop/rock drummer impersonating a jazz drummer. I thought he was doing a very good impression of Ginger Baker doing a very good impression of Elvin Jones.

Nowadays some academics and musicians engage in discussion about what percentage of improvisation is actually composition, though it's a spurious argument more about process, or even semantics. Some say it's on the spot composition but even that isn't straightforward. I recall the sax player spotting something the bass player was doing and adding his voice to enhance it and this type of performance hangs on how well the musicians know each other, including their style, traits, riffs, motifs, tendencies, habits, influences, thought processes etc. These three know each other well.

I generally prefer more melody amongst my improvisation, more recurring themes amongst my freedom and more jouissance among my plaissure. This may come as a surprise from someone who snipes at the random selection of song-smiths arbitrarily chosen for greatness by the mythmakers in the media. However, my preference is for songs, or at least melody as a jumping off point for music.

I don't spend a lot of time listening to this type of stuff for fun, but as a one-off, in a particular moment in time and space, on a coffee fuelled, alcohol-free Sunday night, it was riveting.
Steve T.

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