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Bebop Spoken There

Anat Cohen: "With the tenor, it's so iconic with jazz. With the clarinet, I can improvise, but it doesn't have to be called jazz." - (DownBeat July 2019)

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Today Monday June 17

Afternoon

Jazz

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Tenement Jazz Band - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:30pm (doors). Free (donations).

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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Jethro Tull @ Durham Cathedral - December 14

Ian Anderson (flute, 'voice', acoustic travel guitar and mandolin), Florian Opahle (electric guitar), John O'Hara (piano, organ, accordion), David Goodier (bass guitar), Scott Hammond (drums).
Durham Senior Choristers Choir, Jason Lowe (cathedral organ), Lloyd Grossman ('guitar', 'voice').
(Review by Steve T)
Some people don't think prog-rock qualifies for a Jazz blog and Ian Anderson defines Tull as progressive with a small p. Many think a more contemporary interpretation of Jazz is music which breaks the rules, takes chances and is more challenging, for musician and listener. 
I've seen them a number of times, at Bury, Newcastle, Lancaster, Sheffield and Gateshead, so we're all but Tulled out, but the lure of this most Christmassy of rock bands at the worlds greatest building was too great to resist.
They opened with a flute led God Rest ye Merry Gentleman and this would set the pace for the night and prove a blessing - I know from the last time I saw him his voice has clearly forsaken him but, fear not, anyone with tickets for the Sage in the spring, he's taken to having a stooge helping him out, leaving him the more talky bits. And his flute playing is better than ever.  
The chorister choir sang it in the middle and then did Gaudete as interpreted by Steelye Span, but speeded up and occasionally drowned out by the cathedral organ.
A Christmas Song was an early Tull piece, largely based on Once in Royal Davids City, but concerning itself with the Christmas spirit, and asking at the end where Santa's going with that bottle.
Ring on Solstice Bell was a much later piece and the first indication of just how poor his voice has become, though either the keyboardist or bass player was helping him out.
Various pieces with a Christmas flavour followed and it was quite remarkable how this was maintained through two sets.
At some point during set one Sid Grossman, or was it Lloyd Rotten, joined him for some serious lowering of the tone, boasting that he only does 4/4.
From Anderson's point of view, this may have been an exercising in giving your detractors a platform to hang himself, which he promptly did. I was thinking he shouldn't give up the day job and hoping he might have brought some mince pies. 
In a stroke of genius Tull followed it with one of the more bearable modern Christmas pop songs, from the recently deceased Greg Lake, and it's never sounded better. 
The set ended with a perennial Tull classic, JS Bachs Boure from 69s Stand Up, Anderson observing Bach would have approved of its Jazzy, improvisational qualities. It ended with the greatest testament I've ever heard of his debt to Roland Kirk, his main influence on flute, from whom he stole all the frantic breathing and moaning.
The second set would feature more Bach, from the cathedral organ followed by some serious heavy metal guitar, as Ian described him as a God and briefly worshipped him after his showpiece.
This was preceded by more by the chef de punk rock, who claimed he wasn't sure if he were more surprised playing in a cathedral or with Jethro Tull.
I see no inconsistencies in playing punk rock in a cathedral; a small number of people with power (the BBC) telling lots of people they want to control (us)that something ridiculous (punkrock) has some deeper meaning beyond what we are clever enough to perceive with our limited intelligence and ordinary sensory organs (ears). 
They followed this with one I felt sure Anderson would have been persuaded to drop, which I've never heard them play live and I don't believe it's on any of the live albums. My God is the most forthright condemnation of religion in the whole of Jethro Tull, with it's 'plastic crucifix.'
This was followed by a massively extended and jazzed up Aqualung, which has been the last one at every Tull/ Anderson gig for four and a half decades, with it's protagonist 'eyeing little girls with bad intent, snots running down his nose.'
Finally Locomotive Breath, which has been the encore for the same period, with references like 'in bed and having fun' and 'grab him by the b^!!$'.
For any punk rocker who wants to proclaim themselves rebels and pick fights with their biggers and betters, a lesson - know thine enemy.
A splendid night in perfect surroundings. His voice is in serious trouble, but he knows that and seems to be taking steps to make it matter as little as possible. He has wit, intelligence, opinions and integrity. If you haven't already done so, catch him before it's too late. 
Steve T.

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