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Bebop Spoken There

Brian Dee: "I feel my generation had one advantage over today's players in that we were not musically educated in colleges, so we all sounded different. I could tell who it was just by the sound." - (Jazz Rag, Summer 2020).

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11,783 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1023 of them this year alone and, so far, 50 this month (Sept. 17).

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SEPTEMBER

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SATURDAY

Happy Birthday Katy Trigger & Mia Webb.

SUNDAY 20

Vieux Carre Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. Tel: 0191 691 7090. 12 noon. Free.

Riviera Quartet - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8:00pm. A limited number of seats are available which MUST be bought in advance online. £7:50 or £5:45 live stream only.

THURSDAY 24

Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00pm - 10pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Alter Ego @ The Black Bull, Blaydon - May 20

Keith Robinson (alto saxophone), Niall Armstrong (tenor saxophone, flute), Dave Hignett (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andy Hawking (keyboards), Tony Abell (bass) & David Francis (drums)
(Review and top right photo by Russell/other photos courtesy of  Roly). 
Following an absence, Tony Abell returned to the fold, reuniting with his Alter Ego bandmates at the Black Bull in Blaydon. It was as though he’d never been away. The sun shone over Blaydon, just as it had done all week. The pub’s beer garden, perched high above the Tyne Valley railway,   came into its own on an evening such as this. Singer-guitarist Gareth Beddard was just wrapping up his set to an appreciative beer garden audience as the Alter Ego boys went about their sound check in the adjacent lounge.

Rooted in the hard bop idiom, Alter Ego is a no-nonsense band of seasoned musicians who know the routine; leave your ego at the door (by all means adopt your alter), set up, agree a set list, get ready to go…once you’ve got another beer in. A tasty slice of Dexter Gordon’s Cheese Cake went down well with Dave Hignett’s Stella Artois-sweetened, fleet-fingered flugelhorn indicating that we were in for a good ’un. Band members write material and first to offer something was pianist Andy Hawking; Red Blues followed by Scriabin Scraps. All very Russian, both introduced by the sextet’s budding stand up comedian, David Francis. Suffice to say our amiable drummer won’t threaten the king of one-liners – Alan Barnes – any time soon!

Niall Armstrong is another of the band’s composers. The tenor man’s Mustard Mash was added to the menu and Dave Hignett, again on flugelhorn, couldn’t resist double helpings!  A Jay Chattaway chart – Hit and Run – has been in the pad a while and it sounds better and better on each hearing. Quasimodal – read into it what you will, the hunch is it’s more modal than Victor Hugo – is another from the pen of pianist Hawking and it, along with other band compositions, stood comparison with American bop charts. The snappily titled Word Association Football Blues (comp. Niall Armstrong) served to emphasise the point closing an enjoyable first set featuring the tenor of its composer, the keyboards of Hawking and Hignett’s ever-impressive trumpet playing.
The Alter Ego horns playing the opening vamp to The Perpetrator rounded up band members and stilled the audience as the second set got underway. Keith Robinson’s Zippit featured the incisive alto sax of its composer, Undertone (comp N. Armstrong) opened with NA to the fore, and then we were treated to David Francis’ numerous attempts to pronounce the title of Tony Abell’s Llangranog Blues. What’s the problem, David?! Andy Hawking’s Bacon Sandwich didn’t pose any difficulties to DF. Niall Armstrong picked up his flute on this one as the others thought…red sauce or brown?
To close the evening, a new tune by Hawking – How Low the Sun – was sandwiched between two established numbers; Armstrong’s Dog Leap Bounce (a local landmark reference) and former Jazz Messenger Bobby Watson’s intriguing Wheel Within a Wheel. Alter Ego can be heard again at this year’s DJazz Durham City Jazz Festival (June 2). Blaydon Jazz Club’s June concert (Sunday 17th) presents two very fine guitarists, Mark Williams and Joel Byrne-McCullough. Highly recommended. 
Photos.
Russell                      

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