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Bebop Spoken There

Shri Sriram: "I realised that regular jamming was the college I needed, and not a formal musical education at all!" - (Jazzwise, March 2020).
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Today Thursday February 27

Afternoon.

Jazz

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Blues, Soul, Funk etc.

?????

Evening

Jazz

Lindsay Hannon & Mark Williams - Revolución de Cuba, Cloth Market, Newcastle NE1 1EE. Tel: 0191 917 7076. 6:00pm. Free.

Lieko - Bobik’s, Punch Bowl Hotel, Jesmond Road, Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 3JY. Tel: 0191 284 0490. 7:30pm. £8.00. + bf, £5.00. concs + bf. Support TBC.

’58 Jazz Collective - Hops and Cheese, Tower St., Hartlepool TS24 7HH. 7:30pm. Free. Last Thursday in the month residency.

Paul Skerritt Band - The Pennyweight, Bakehouse Hill, Darlington DL1 5QA. Tel: 01325 468411. 8:00pm. Free.

Maine Street Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Hollywell Lane, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5NJ. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:30pm. Free.

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm.

Tees Hot Club w. Gus Smith (vocals); Josh Bentham (alto sax); Ted Pearce (keys) - Dorman’s Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 9:00pm. Free.

Blues/Soul/Funk/Etc.

The Slim Bees - The Hotspur, Percy St., Newcastle NE1 7RY. Tel: 0191 232 4352. 8:00pm. Free. Acoustic blues set by Scott Taylor & Michael Littlefield. Any donations will go to the under seige peoples of Syria.

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

Friday, November 03, 2017

Ushaw Ensemble @ The Jazz Café - October 31. A Jazz North East ‘Schmazz’ presentation.

Paul Edis (MD/piano); Andy May (Northumbrian pipes); Ed Cross (violin); Rob Walker (drums); Graham Hardy (trumpet/flugel); Paul Susans (double bass); Graeme Wilson (tenor sax/bass clarinet/flute).
(Review/photos by Ken Drew).


Durham-born Paul Edis was commissioned by Ushaw College in 2016 to write St Cuthbert's Suite, a musical account of the life of St. Cuthbert, and so The Ushaw Ensemble was created. Its world premiere took place on March 18 at Ushaw College and was also performed the following day in Durham Cathedral.
Tonight, we were to be treated to another world premiere. The anticipation of hearing Edis's St Cuthbert's Suite in the second set was heightened by the presentation of a more recent three part suite in the first set. An introductory piece, The Sound of Achill, enabled us to become accustomed to the line-up where the inclusion of violin and Northumbrian Pipes provided a significant folk component to the overall sound, together with compositional elements covering a wide range of musical styles from contemporary classical music to jazz improvisation, with many other influences in between.


First set: The Sound of Achill began fully charged - straight in. A very lively tune with Northumbrian pipes distinctly in the mix and solos from May, Cross, Edis and Walker. Very tight playing!
Here and Now and Gone Forever. The three-part, 30-minute piece, was glued together with segues which meant the music flowed seamlessly, giving little opportunity for applause, but the audience's keen attention made up for that. 
We were treated to very strong solos all round, a mix of instruments where flugel and bowed bass were used to good effect, a range of rhythms from gentle, though bluesy to lively.  Wilson gave an extended solo, playing as good as ever, if not bettering it here, and the suite ended with a thundering drum solo from Walker.
Overall - a very pleasant and lively sound with the often occurring distinctively shrill sound of the Northumbrian pipes. Never too much, just nicely evident throughout the 3 sections.

Second set:  St Cuthbert's Suite. So, how to review a performance which has such a broad range of musical styles and influences drawing upon influences from jazz, folk and classical music, written by a well-respected local musician, performed by some of the best musicians in the North East, and by invitation from Jazz North East?
Well, the first set was a revelation as to how accessible this ensemble can be, and a good fore-runner to this ‘more established’ piece.

The programme notes (two full sides of A4!) were quite detailed and very helpful, providing a brief historical background and an outline to the musical progression of the Suite, making a useful and meaningful contribution to the overall performance.  The main musical instruments in a particular section were highlighted and an outline provided of the compositional thinking behind what was being offered. As MD, Edis occasionally conducted from the piano, becoming quite animated for a short but obviously intricate section. 

Here's a recap of the 11 sections, showing that a lot of research, and compositional thought as gleaned from the programme notes, had gone into this commission.

St Cuthbert's Theme - carried by the violin
A Shepherd From Melrose - Northumbrian pipes bringing a distinctive air of Northumberland.
 3 A Vision – with slower dreamlike qualities.
The Indefatigable Evangelist - the main theme carried by pipes/flute/trumpet followed by improvisations, the piece ending with an abrupt stop.
 5 Solitude - Bass with bass clarinet. Then the main theme developed by trumpet & sax. This ends the first part of the suite with the violin restating the main theme.
Many Miracles - Introduced by the drums, then the main theme emerges from the pipes/flute and trumpet.
The Death of Cuthbert - based around the main theme, accompanied by pipes & flute, trumpet & tenor.
The Vikings - Cuthbert's resting place soulfully depicted by the double-bass then overtaken by the free and frantic sound of tenor sax & drums to very effectively depict the invasion.
Seven Years Wandering - escaping the Danish invasions, wandering for 7 years, indicated by a varying time signature.
10 The Wonder Worker of Britain - Following Cuthbert's death, the main theme recurs in a Messiaen-like style.
11 Dunholme (now Durham) - mainly improvised, and including references to birdsong along the riverbanks of Durham.

The audience was engaged and appreciative, with good applause at the end of the performance. Paul had suggested we could clap during the Suite were we inclined to do so, but this rarely happened due I feel to the likely intrusion into the flow of the piece.

Overall, the musical styles were well chosen for the mood for each piece. Edis cites influences from composers as wide-ranging as Ellington, Debussy, Ravel and Messiaen, but with strong themes and the inclusion of improvised sections, this makes for a robust and wide-ranging piece. A sensory delight in fact! 
As was noted in the publicity: "Paul Edis is pushing at instrumental and stylistic boundaries to create something distinctive and wholly beguiling." How true that is.
Ken, 

Afterthought: This would be a delightful piece to hear played in a bigger acoustic space with an acoustic grand piano, somewhere in Northumbria of course. How's about Durham Cathedral, Lanercost or Brinkburn?  How's about adding a multimedia slide projection to depict the history as it unfolds accompanied by a live performance of the whole Suite? And how's about complimenting that with the first Suite being part of a ‘Son et lumière’ show? Whatever the future for these pieces - think big! The compositions, the performance and the overall impact warrant it.

1 comment :

Hugh said...

Great ideas, Ken. The Cuthbert Suite was premiered in a bigger acoustic space, the piano was electronic though