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Bebop Spoken There

Cécile McLorin Salvant: "She [Melissa Aldana] makes us realise how terrible it is to be complacent." - (DownBeat July 2019)

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Today Thursday June 20

Afternoon

Jazz

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

Evening

Jazz

Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra - Arc, Dovecot St., Stockton on Tees TS18 1LL. Tel: 01642 525199. 7:00pm. £12.00. + £0.10. bf. ‘Jazz & Tapas’ - booking essential.

Ruth Lambert Quartet - St James' & St Basil's Church, Fenham Hall Drive, Fenham, Newcastle NE4 9EJ. 7:30pm. £8.00.

Heller-Glendinning: Billie Meets Kurt - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm (doors). £6.00. (£3.00. student).

Acoustic Infusion - The Forum, Borough Road, Darlington DL1 1SG. Tel: 01325 363135. 7:30pm. £5.00. Line-up: Alan Thompson (tenor sax); Rick Laughlin (piano); Bruce Rollo (double bass); Ian Halford (drums). Now Abbie Finn on drums.

Durham University Concert Band + Grollingwood Big Band - Durham Town Hall, Market Place, Durham DH1 3NJ. 7:30pm. £10.00., £9.00., £8.00.

Durham University Big Band - Black Swan Bar, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 222 9882. 8:00pm. £6.00. (£5.00 concs.). JNE.

Tees Hot Club w. Gus Smith (vocals); Donna Hewitt (tenor sax), Dave Archbold (keys) - Dormans Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 8:30pm. Free.

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

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm. £2.50.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bass-less fears! The Gala Big Band @ The Gala Theatre, Durham – April 17

(Personnel to follow - maybe)
(Review by Jerry)
The annual big-bash for this estimable community band was late getting started – the bass guitar “had imploded” (?) just before curtain-up so the stressed guitarist rushed off home (?) to repair/replace the offending instrument. Problems for the MD who likened the bass in a band to the goalie in football – you hardly notice them when things are going well but when things go wrong you realise how important they are!
After a delay, and still bass-less, they launched into Strike Up the Band and Bye Bye Blackbird featuring a piano solo by Ben Lawrence. There were no own-goals conceded before the bassist appeared, stage left and panting, and order was almost restored in the rhythm section in time for Alex Kennedy to step up from the drums and give us the vocals on Almost Like Being in Love.
I say “almost restored” because the empty drum-seat had now to be filled by the MD himself, who freely admits this is not his forte but, once again, no own goals were conceded. The opening lyrics: “What a day this has been…” must have struck a chord with both bassist and MD! Alex Kennedy followed up with I’ve Got You Under My Skin and, in the second set gave us Come Fly with Me, so Paul Edis got in plenty of drumming practice! He must have been happy with it as he volunteered for more in the finale (see below)!

We had a solo piano “world premiere” of a recently composed Edis’ original, Of Mice and Men, which had nothing to do with the Steinbeck novel but did have some echoes of Three Blind Mice and “influences from American folk-music”. I thought I heard more gospel than folk in the opening and closing sections which were both quiet and gentle compared to the left-hand, bass-heavy mid section. Another good tune, anyway, hopefully earmarked for a third solo CD.

Aside from the above it was all a big-band instrumental mix of great standards and Edis originals. In the Mood was a blast as always and saw the return of the hats in the trumpet section – as welcome as the first swallows of summer! Satin Doll was smooth and polished and April in Paris featured “Pop-goes-the-weasel” trumpet and a series of “fake-endings” catching out all those eager to applaud!
Prelude and Funk typified the challenging music the MD puts before both Jambone, for whom this was originally written, and the Gala Big Band. It opens with the horns (Prelude?) before drum, bass and guitar inject the funk. There was jazz flute from the MD, too. A great closer to the first set.  Diminishing Returns, a blues, featured solos from Matthew Downey on guitar and Bob Howe on alto sax as well as more flute from its composer.

Earlier, Mikey Samba , a happy, driving tune (Nissan Micra inspired, bizarrely!) featured trumpet and guitar solos and was a complete contrast with the tune which followed, Too Sad for Words. This last is a quiet ballad full of long, low notes for the brass which produced a beautiful, haunting effect (my wife’s words, not mine). Technically, I assume, very challenging for the players and brilliantly done.
The penultimate number was Neal Hefti’s beautiful L’il Darlin, featuring a fine muted trumpet solo from Dave Skipsey. An excellent arrangement of Watermelon Man (apologies, I can’t remember by whom it was arranged) closed proceedings with a “four-handed” percussion intro as the band leader grabbed 2 sticks and briefly joined Alex Kennedy on the drums. There were solos including tenor sax and guitar and oodles of high-energy ensemble playing contributing to a rousing finale.
Overall, despite a worrisome start for all concerned, a really enjoyable gig.
Jerry

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