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Bebop Spoken There

Leon Parker: "Pisces are about spiritual beauty and artistic beauty, and that's what Roy [Haynes] is, man." - (JazzTimes, Nov. 2019).


Today Wednesday November 20



Scott Wall - Jazz Café, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 261 5618. 1:00pm. £3.00. Café Mezzanine (first floor, access via crafts shop).

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.



Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £1.00.

Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:15pm. £3.00.


Moonshine Sessions - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 8:30pm. Free.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mike Durham’s Classic Jazz Party - Friday October 27

(Review by Russell)
It began late on Thursday evening with Torstein Kubban, cornet and Phil Rutherford, the north east of England’s finest exponent of the brass bass, joining the Scandinavian Union Rhythm Kings in an annual welcome concert featuring the Norwegians Lars Frank, reeds, Kris Kompen, trombone, and pianist Morten Gunnar Larsen with Sweden’s Jacob Ullberger, guitar and banjo. The festival proper opened at noon on Friday with Spats Langham singing some of Mike Durham’s favourite numbers. The 2017 Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party was well and truly underway!

Three days of non stop jazz, sets of half an hour or one-hour duration, the musicians somehow got on and off stage to time. Planning, commitment and co-operation are key elements with all involved playing their part. Several musicians made their debut at the Village Hotel and New York trumpeter Mike Davis couldn’t have been other than impressed playing to a capacity audience of ‘classic jazz’ era enthusiasts. The Georgians comprised members of Paul Specht’s band and this ‘band within a band’ that Davis chose to focus upon, in particular, the role of the Italian-American trumpeter Frank Guarante, provided rich pickings. The betting is the young American couldn’t believe his luck being on the stand alongside Kris Kompen, brilliant multi reedsman Richard Exall and Martin Wheatley, a student of the pioneering guitar and banjo players of the era. Helping him feel at home were American compatriots David Boeddinghaus, piano, and percussion maestro Josh Duffee. Completing the lineup, Michael McQuaid, reeds, making a welcome return to the Classic Jazz Party.

The region is a hotbed of musicians (and historians) steeped in the music of the early decades of the twentieth century; Phil Rutherford, multi-instrumentalist John Carstairs Hallam and Emma Fisk made telling contributions to this year’s event and Emma’s Hot Club did what it said on the tin. An all-strings line-up – Fisk, violin, guitarists Spats Langham and Henri Lemaire, and bassist Malcolm Sked – was joined by Chicagoan vocalist Joan Viskant. A first visit to the Village Hotel for Viskant, it won’t be the last!

King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band revisited Oliver’s 1923 recordings. Americans Andy Schumm and Duke Heitger shared the load ably supported by Graham Hughes, trombone, Matthias Seuffert on clarinet, Claus Jacobi playing alto saxophone and the ‘big beast’ bass saxophone, and an all-star rhythm section of Boeddinghaus, piano, from Germany Peter Beyerer, banjo, Frenchman Lemaire playing bass and the genial Nick Ball, drums.

A first-ever ‘anachronic’ session at the CJP! Bonnel’s Anachronics (that’s Jean-François Bonnel) played modern numbers in a retro (anachronic) style. The Blessing from Ornette Coleman’s 1958 album Something Else!!!! was said to have shaken the jazz world. Well, the CJP audience didn’t wince, flinch, or boo. Bonnel alluded to Thelonius Monk’s debt to James P Johnson’s stride piano style as the band (Morten Gunnar Larsen piano) played Ruby, My Dear. Frenchwoman Elise Sut, brass bass, was making her debut at the CJP on this set. What would she make of the rest of the festival? Bonnel’s short set concluded with Kenny Barron’s Voyage.

The penultimate set of Friday afternoon’s schedule introduced a new name to the festival. Talented multi-instrumentalist Ewan Bleach (pictured), for this weekend engagement playing reeds only, brought great enthusiasm as well as first-rate musicianship to the Classic Jazz Party. Bleach’s Boys (the festival programme listed the set , erroneously, as Bleach’s Buoys) kicked up a storm as Bleach, clarinet, tenor saxophone and vocals, joined forces with Mike Davis, Martins Litton, piano, Wheatley, guitar, Henri Lemaire, bass, and the ebullient Richard Pite, drums. Clarence Williams’ Senegalese Stomp, WC Handy’s Ole Mississippi Rag, Deed I Do and, to top the lot, Ewan ‘snake-hips’ Bleach dancing along to Snake Hip Dance. Bleach warned his trousers (without belt) could fall down. Your reviewer can report no such catastrophe occurred.

To close the afternoon session Keith Nichols led a large ensemble to play Ellington - 1927 Ellington to be exact. This one hour set introduced two impressive newcomers to the CJP – trumpeter Jamie Brownfield and vocalist Nicolle Rochelle. East St Louis Toodle Oo, Harlem River Quiver, pianist and MC Keith Nichols was in particularly fine form – musically and comedically. Playfully picking out members of The Ellington Orchestra 1927, Nichols heaped the pressure on them telling Kris Kompen he would be playing the role of Tricky Sam Nanton, similarly, Brownfield and Heitger should be thought of as Bubber Miley. Nervous smiles, a glance at a mischievous Nichols, this was great fun! Joan Viskant, à la Adelaide Hall, provided the famous vocal treatment on Creole Love Call as Nichols urged first Brownfield then Richard Exall to take another chorus. MC Nichols is fond of the phrase ‘tear arse’ and it certainly applied to the orchestra’s efforts on Hop Head. Hot! Hot! Hot!

Friday evening’s session began with the first of three ‘piano professor’ sets featuring Martin Litton. Later in the weekend ‘Professors’ David Boeddinghaus and Morten Gunnar Larsen would similarly entertain an enthralled audience. Claus Jacobi, reeds, put together Fletcher Henderson 1923-4 to play to another full house. German Jacobi called on several of the American heavyweights for this set; trumpeters Davis and Schumm, the excellent Jim Fryer, trombone, and David Boeddinghaus, piano. My Sweetie Went Away, Clarence Williams’ Gulf Coast Blues and a hot Shake Your Feet drew much applause. Spat’s Show featured the man himself, Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham in a thirty minutes’ set that flew by. Spats sang (banjo, guitar and ukulele at his side) accompanied by Emma Fisk, Martin Wheatley, Malcolm Sked, bass and reedsman Matthias Seuffert. If Spats could flick a switch on his time machine and go back to the thirties ‘Astaire, Crosby and Langham’ could/would have been a marquee attraction!

We were invited to Martin Wheatley’s Salon for a short, but perfectly formed ragtime soirée in the company of Fisk, Schumm, Exhall, Kompen, Morten Gunnar Larsen, Rutherford and Ward. Edward MacDowell’s To a Wild Rose proved to be a highlight as Wheatley played it as a trio with Fisk and Exhall.

The final set of the day (before a late night jam session in the bar!) introduced 26 years old French trumpeter Malo Mazurié. Taking his seat in the section of The Luis Russell Orchestra to play charts from the 1929-30 period, the Frenchman wowed the Village Hotel crowd in an all-star line-up. Malo made a big impression and would go on to make a significant contribution during the weekend.  

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: I look forward to hearing from you.

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