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Bebop Spoken There

Ethan Iverson: "I asked Bertha [Hope] if she ever used the word "contrafact" to describe the process of writing new tunes over old changes, and she replied, "Of course not. The only people who used that word went to a university to learn about jazz."" - (Jazz Times March 2020).

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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.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

CD Review: Sam Boshnack Quintet - The Nellie Bly Project

Samantha Boshnack (composer, trumpet, vocals); Beth Fleenor (clarinet, bass clarinet); Alex Chadsey (piano, keyboards); Isaac Castillo (upright/electric bass); Max Wood (drums); Valerie Holt, Anne Mathews (vocals tracks 1 and 3); Anne Whitfield (spoken vocals tracks 2 and 4)
(Review by Ann Alex).
Sam Boshnack, a bandleader based in Seattle, works with various ensembles and has been influenced by free jazz, Cuban rhythms and modern jazz. She has at least 4 previous albums to her credit, such as Go To Orange (2013) and Exploding Syndrome (2014). I enjoyed The Nellie Bly Project, which was as I expected from the notes supplied, full of a free jazz feel, lots of repeated riffs and unusual sounds.  In fact I must quote from the blurb in Downbeat ‘...’open voicings, jaunty tempos and buoyant timbral mixes have a friendly monster feel that achieves a bittersweet and elegiac mood of orchestral grandeur.’ 
Lance had earmarked the album for my attention, as it concerns the life and doings of Nellie Bly (real name Elizabeth Cochran), an American feminist, civil rights activist, and journalist, who lived from 1864 to 1922. A fascinating woman who wrote a book about the abuse suffered by mental health patients which led to reforms in the USA; she also travelled the world in order to challenge the fictional accounts of Jules Verne. Ms. Bly is also casually mentioned in the song Frankie And Johnnie but I don’t think that that has any bearing on her actual life.

The CD consists of 4 tracks, each one illustrating an aspect of her work. Expositions opens with a strong bass clarinet and concerns Bly’s statement that a true woman is ‘innocent, unaffected and frank’, which is sung chant-like over a rhythmic bass. The voice is joined by another, singing that ‘energy, rightly applied, can accomplish anything.’ The ensemble illustrates all this with energetic driving rhythms and repeated riffs.
Track 2, which I liked best, After One Is In Trouble, is all about Bly’s undercover assignment for the New York World newspaper, in which she feigned insanity so that she could investigate alleged brutality at a women’s lunatic asylum. This was illustrated by pounding persistent drumming, a crying, wailing trumpet, and a final mash up of madness by the whole band. This was not always easy to listen to, but I admired it as the music was true to the subject being explored.
Track 3 was on the happier theme of 72 Days, telling us about Bly’s attempt at going round the world in less time than it took Jules Verne in his fictional account. Bly had to fight hard to even be allowed to take this journey, which was by railroad and steamship, as shown by the rhythms and sounds of drums, bass clarinet and cymbals. Bly’s words are constantly repeated: ‘It’s only a matter of twenty-eight thousand miles... I shall be back again’ and ‘I would rather go in dead and successful than alive and behind time.’
The final track is Legacy, summing up Bly’s hope that things can be changed, with effective ensemble playing, then a final lone trumpet, which I reckon was Nellie Bly’s final plea for more justice in the world.
The CD was released on August 18, 2017, on the label Artists Recording Collective
 UPC-A 8-93682-00277-2
Ann Alex

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