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Bebop Spoken There

Camila Meza: "Some tonalities or chords are colors to me: G major is blue, D major is orange and B minor is totally yellow." - (DownBeat July 2019)

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Today Saturday June 15

Afternoon

Jazz

Tyne Valley Big Band - Tynedale Beer & Cider Festival, Tynedale Rugby Club, Station Road, Corbridge NE45 5AY. 2:30pm. £12.00. Festival open noon ‘til 11:00pm.

Evening

No Fox Given - Cobalt Studios, Boyd Street, Newcastle NE2 1AP. 7:00pm. £7.00. (£6.00. adv.). Newcastle University tenor saxophonist Sam Fox's quartet plus guests.

Blues/Funk/Soul

Teresa Watson Band - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9:00pm. Free.

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

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music 2017

What I Heard For Free
(By Ann Alex/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
I arrived at the Jazz Cafe on Saturday afternoon to catch the end of the performance by Lindsay Hannon and Bradley Johnston, (guitar), part of the Take Five, featuring 5 pairs of musicians. I couldn’t believe I was listening to Lindsay, as she was singing a tender love song in a sweetly changed voice, showing great versatility, as with the next song also. Yet another jazz singer showing further development of her art. Then a complete contrast – Graham Hardy and Neil Harland, began with an ambient piece on trumpet and bass guitar, slow, serene, cinematic, with a drone, entitled Improvisation In B Flat .I had the strange experience of not being able to see these 2 musicians as I was in an alcove, which concentrates the mind wonderfully.
Next came a contrast, a lively piece, then a boppy number. The next tune involved bubbly, sucking sounds from the bass (I think) with brief trumpet comments, but it may have involved electronics, I couldn’t see. Mish Mash had an improvised feel, with additions of some banging from the bar which happened to be in rhythm. The instruments blended, then became wild, with bass chords cutting across the trumpet. The whole performance was imaginative and enjoyable.

Up stepped Faye MacCalman (tenor sax, clarinet) and John Pope (bass), to play standards, but I didn’t catch many of the titles. They began with a smooth, easygoing tune with a long bass solo, then a slow strong tune with a Central European feel, a bowed bass and repeated riffs from the tenor. Monk’s Dream brought an amusing misunderstanding between the musicians, when Faye continued playing when she should have stopped for the bass. Then a tune with clarinet, before There’ll Never Be Another You, back to the sax. The music must have been too relaxing for me, or maybe it was the drink I’d had, as I felt sleepy and had to leave, so missing the last 2 pairs; Noel Dennis/Dean Stockdale and Raymond Macdonald/Graeme Wilson. My loss.

Sunday
Music students must sleep on Sunday afternoons, as there were none of them there for The Tuesday Jam On Sunday, unless they’d been before I arrived at 1.30pm. Plenty of other good musicians were present: the house band of Alan Law (piano); Paul Gowland (alto sax); Paul Grainger (bass); Russ Morgan (drums); plus Stu Finden (sax); Fiona Finden (sax, vocals); Dave Weisser (cornet) Jude Murphy (sax, flute) Keith Barrett (guitar). Fiona treated us to a lovely version of Secret Love, sung to a fast repeated 4-note riff from Stu’s sax; then came Never Leave and Keith joining in for No Moon At All. It was interesting to see Alan on what I’d call the naked piano, no front at all, listeners can see all the hammers in action, which I found a bit unnerving for reasons I don’t understand.
Over to the Bridge Hotel, to catch the last of The Improvisers Workshop, where they were discussing the nature of such an event which raised all the usual relevant points, such as how abstract is music compared with art, how many musicians should be involved, what is composition and improvisation, is it best to have a guiding format, what influence does politeness have on the music. Then a piece was played with mixed success, a bit messy, involving voices, saxes, drums, guitar, bass, keys, something metallic, bird sounds, shakers, clapping, Morse code bleeps, bells. There followed a frank discussion which assessed the piece well. The discussions were led by Dr Graeme Wilson and Professor Raymond MacDonald. A final piece was played, a much more successful work, many musical elements, fewer instruments playing at once. Someone from the audience joined in with a spoon striking a glass, before the saxes wound down and a calm guitar ended the piece. I’d advise everyone to try free improvisation as an interesting challenge to add to your musical experiences.
I enjoyed what I heard of this festival and I’d like to see it repeated next year. Thank you especially to Wes Stephenson, the Festival Producer.
Ann Alex.

1 comment :

Ken Drew said...

Well, things had warmed up nicely when Anne left. So, just to quickly fill the gap (from memory) - Noel Dennis/Dean Stockdale played many standards with a lovely sound as a duo and with fine individual solo spots along the way.
I often think it's a shame the pianist has to face away from the audience *and* the other players on stage. But this makes their sense of listening to 'the other player' more sensitive, and I think this was borne out when they played as a duo - perfect timing and wonderful interplay. And more than a touch of composing/arranging on-the-fly too.

Finally Raymond MacDonald/Graeme Wilson filled the last slot. Already the audience had diminished a little (it was close to 5pm anyway)but those who stayed *stayed the whole duration* to witness a fine display of improvisational musicianship. What made this slot even more interesting (for me anyway) were the brief interludes between the pieces when each performer said something about their background.
Their shared background in fact, as they had played and busked in Glasgow together many years ago (too many to mention here) - but this gave an interesting insight into their development and how they are able to think and play in such synchronism and read each others next steps, emphasising my previous comment when Dennis and Stockdale were playing together with superb interplay.

So, five distinctly different duos over five hours. Such high quality music for free, and providing a wonderfully warm atmosphere in the Jazz Cafe on a grey and sometimes wet Saturday afternoon. Ken D

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