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Bebop Spoken There

John Scofield: "I like architecture that lends itself to improvisation." - (Jazzwise November, 2021)

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.
Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite & Katz Communications) You’re the BEST! --

Postage

13,837 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 1254 of them this year alone and, so far, 66 this month (Oct. 23).

From This Moment On ...

October

Tue 26: Classic Swing @ Ship inn, Monkseaton. 1:00pm. The post-lockdown resumption of the band’s weekly residency will be fortnightly until further notice.
Tue 26: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 8:00pm. The post-lockdown resumption of the Black Swan’s fortnightly jam session.

Wed 27: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 27: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 27: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 28: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 28: J Frisco @ Newcastle University. 1:15pm. ONLINE ONLY (YouTube).
Thu 28: ’58 Jazz Collective @ Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool. 7:30pm.
Thu 28: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Gateshead. 8:30pm.
Thu 28: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 29: James Birkett & Bradley Johnston @ Gala Theatre, Durham. 1:00pm..
Fri 29: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm..
Fri 29: Rendezvous Jazz @ Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm..
Fri 29: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm.

Sun 31 Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon..
Sun 31: Musicians Unlimited @ South Durham Social Club, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. .
Sun 31: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm. Jam session..
Sun 31: Alison Rayner Quintet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

November

Mon 01: Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

CD Review: Theo Bleckmann – Elegy

Theo Bleckmann – voice; Ben Monder – guitar; Shai Maestro – piano; Chris Tordini – double bass; John Hollenbeck – drums
(Review by Hugh C)
German-born vocalist, Theo Bleckmann, now resides in New York.  He has been described as a “sound painter” - on this CD he uses his instrument to create both broad brush strokes and delicate patterns, he has also composed most of the material.  Bleckmann has had a musical association with guitarist Ben Monder and drummer John Hollenbeck for over two decades, but a more recent association with pianist Shai Maestro and bassist Chris Tordini.
Elegy sets out to be an “exploration of death or transcendence in some existential way”.  Bleckmann states that in this album he wants to “create songs that deal with this subject matter not in a morbid way, but with some light to it”.  

The CD consists of a series of songs contributing to the exploration, with short instrumental interludes, each of which are improvisations on Bleckmann's written material.  Semblance is the first of these and rapidly moves into Comedy Tonight, setting Sondheim's words and arranged in memory of Bleckmann's mother, who died recently at the age of 91 still looking for things to make her laugh.  Bleckmann's atmospheric take on Sondheim's lyrics are supported by Maestro's solo piano.  Fields, followed by The Mission feature the whole band in balladic mood, with Bleckmann's vocalese floating over the instrumentalists.  After another brief instrumental interlude – Littlefields - comes the title track, Elegy, which has a darker musical texture, through which emerges the more uplifting finale.  To Be Shown to Monks at a Certain Temple, based on an 8th-century Zen poem by Chiao Jan, is about not giving up and exhorts the listener “not to think about death, but keep on moving; not to be morose, keep on living”.

Another instrumental interlude - Cortege - precedes a short reprise of Elegy, leading into Take My Life.  Bleckmann composed this thinking about Bach and his cantatas, especially “Ich habe genug” - Bach was looking forward to the afterlife; Bleckmann here imagines in his lyrics what it would be like to die, but ultimately finds “no other God but silence”.  Wither (sic) – no h and no question mark - is another vocalese, no lyrics.  This reverts to the ballad format with fine piano from Maestro, sensitively supported by the three other band members.  A final instrumental improvisation, Alate, closes the set in a rising chordal progression, rather in the manner of an old black and white film ending, with a slowly closing iris ultimately forming a small central dot, followed by the word FIN.

This is certainly a thought-provoking offering.  The musicianship of all the band members is beyond question.  I think it would probably pass Lance's Outré test.  It is certainly unconventional (even for an ECM recording) and could possibly be considered bizarre.  I do think that Bleckmann has probably achieved his objective and created songs that deal with this subject matter [exploration of death or transcendence in some existential way] not in a morbid way, but with some light to it.
Hugh C

Elegy is now released on ECM (ECM 2512  479 9717)

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