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Bebop Spoken There

Guy Barker: "You have to play it [the trumpet] every day or you just won't be match-fit." - (Jazz Rag, Winter 2019.)

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Today Friday December 13

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux CarréJazzmen - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. 12 noon. ‘Christmas Jazz Lunch’. Details from 0191 252 9429).

Dean Stockdale Trio - The Merry Monk, 30 Market Place, Bishop Auckland DL14 7NP. 1:00pm. £5.00.

Rendezvous Jazz - Monkseaton Arms, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. Tel: 0191 251 3928. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening.

Jazz

‘An Evening of Swing & Sparkle’ - National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland SR6 0GL. Tel: 0191 515 5555. 7:30pm. £35.00. Rat Pack evening inc. 4-course meal.

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band - Gosforth Civic Theatre, Regents Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 3HD. Tel: 0191 284 3700. 8:00pm. £12.00. + bf. First night of two.

Chris Dean's Syd Lawrence Orchestra - Yarm School, Stockton TS15 9EJ. Tel: 01642 786023. 7:30pm (6:30pm doors). £18.00. + £1.80. bf (£15.00. + £1.50. bf). 'Mistletoe & Miller'.

Blues, Funk/Soul etc.

Baghdaddies - Cobalt Studios, Boyd Street, NewcastleNE2 1AP. £10.68 (inc. bf). ‘Big Xmas Knees Up’.

Swamp Hoppers - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free.

George Shovlin & the Acoustic Radars feat. Pat Rafferty + George Pallas & John Wilkins - Whitburn Cricket Club, East Street, Whitburn SR6 7BZ. Tel: 0191 529 3187. 7:30pm (7:00pm doors). £7.50. admission by ticket only (from www.wegottickets.com). 'The Bents Road Sessions'.

Dead Skunk Skiffle & Blues Orchestra + Stetson Five - Station East, Hills Street, Gateshead NE8 2AN. 8:00pm. Free.

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

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Graeme Wilson Quartet @ The Jazz Café - Jan 19


Graeme Wilson (tenor & baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, flute & whistling), Paul Edis (keyboards, flute & whistling), Andy Champion (bass, double bass, flute & whistling) & Adam Sinclair (drums & whistling)  
(Review and flute trio photo by Russell/quartet photo courtesy of Mike Tilley).
We know the Graeme Wilson Quartet, we know what to expect, or rather we did. This Newcastle Jazz Café date produced surprise upon surprise. The atmospheric first-floor performance space works best when there is a good crowd in and as the first set was about to get underway the few remaining seats were being snapped up.
Composer, multi-instrumentalist, Honourary Geordie, Graeme Wilson arrived from his Edinburgh home to link up once again with pals Paul Edis, Andy Champion and Adam Sinclair. Wilson said there would be lots of new material (premiere pieces, no less!), and there was, together with two tracks from the quartet’s excellent CD Sure Will Hold a Boat. Wilson opened on tenor saxophone playing a new number titled Hyvot Mill. It bore all the hallmarks of a Graeme Wilson composition with its intricate harmonic structure (the lads were concentrating hard, real hard!) and ‘slow burn’ tenor solo culminating in near volcanic eruption only for our tenor man to take it down then out.
Five Floors Up from Sure Will Hold a Boat heard yet more wonderful tenor playing by Wilson and, as the bandleader took a breather, the trio – Edis, keyboards, Champion, double bass and Adam Sinclair, drums – stretched out in classic piano trio style before Wilson returned to lead the quartet in a most entertaining whistled coda. A new tune without a title prompted Wilson to announce that   Profane Drawings of Trees would suffice. An urgent, swift opening (this had the makings of a new favourite number), the composition’s title inspired by the nineteenth-century novelist James Hogg, pianist Edis crafting a fine solo, inviting the brilliant Sinclair to engage in musical conversation.

Spinning Slowly from Sure Will Hold a Boat featured Sinclair’s imperious, ever-so-slow percussion work (a master at work). A good idea would be to acquire the album – let’s call it a ‘recommended purchase’. Oh, a new album is in the pipeline, watch this space.                 

Earlier your eagle-eyed BSH correspondent spied Wilson’s baritone saxophone lying to one side of the stage…difficult to miss given that it isn’t something easily concealed in a jacket pocket. Golden Gate is a composition that Wilson took along to a rehearsal session by the sadly now defunct John Warren Splinter Group. That rehearsal session would be the last time the orchestra met, as shortly after, the pride of the north east of England would disband due to early-onset austerity cuts. Wilson put the charts away in his study drawer, to be dusted off one day. That day was January 19, 2018. The Jazz Café audience heard the premiere public performance of the tune, a tune Wilson was at pains to point out was named after the Golden Gate Quartet, a magnificent gospel vocal quartet at its peak in the thirties (second-hand vinyl recordings of the Golden Gate Quartet are scarce, one of which resides on the shelves of your reviewer). Amazingly, Wilson’s facility on baritone is equal to his tenor playing, and he’s more than adept on other instruments…

Second set, likely to settle down, fewer surprises. No chance! Flautists Wilson, Edis and Champion – yes, three flutes on stage! – began the set playing an intro to a new chart, Wilson’s After School. Is there no end to their talents? Apparently not! Adam Sinclair wasn’t to be left out, once again the amiable drummer par excellence showing what he could do ahead of our three Pied Pipers taking it out. Why Are You Staring at Me? saw Andy Champion switching to electric bass (echoes of Shiver and other outfits) bookended by Edis’ wonky harpsichord contribution. At its conclusion bandleader Wilson led the applause for ‘Paul Edis on harpsichord’. Moments earlier review notes read: wonky harpsichord. It’s good to be in accord, wonky or not.

Wilson like crosswords (each to their own) and took great delight in discovering ‘brainless act’ is an anagram of bass clarinet! At which point, our man picked up his bass clarinet. The reed didn’t quite behave itself, necessitating a change as Andy Champion, on double bass once more, played a fine solo; considered, restrained, chops in check. The tune? A Dwindling (another new one). The Bold Sammy (referencing firebrand and scourge of the establishment, novelist James Kelman) featured Wilson (tenor) and drummer Sinclair on what would be the penultimate number of the evening. The final tune, yet another new one – Friction Motor – did what a closing number should do, knock ’em dead. That doesn’t tell half the story. This was masterful stuff with its stop time device, the counting in the head (band and audience!), the elision of rip-roaring, full-on sections into swing time feel and back again. Brilliant, quite simply, brilliant.  
Russell. 

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