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Bebop Spoken There

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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

IT IS ADVISABLE TO CHECK IN ADVANCE WITH THE VENUE THAT THE GIG IS ON

THURSDAY 17

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. 8:30pm. Free.

SUNDAY 20

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

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Issie Barratt’s Interchange @ The Parabola Theatre, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, May 6

(Review by Alison Bentley)
A year ago, baritone player, composer and jazz educator Issie Barratt brought together a band of ten women she had always wanted to work with, to play ten pieces composed by women. Although she travels a lot working with European big bands and orchestras, she told us, ‘I’ve never conducted another woman; I’ve never been programmed with another woman, and I’ve never actually played in an ensemble with a woman before… I decided I needed to be a bit more proactive.’
The styles were up to the composers, and accordionist Karen Street’s piece Still Here had a Piazzolla feel with touches of folk (some Balkan rhythms) and brass bands. The ensemble textures were at first soft, like the sun on the grass outside, then more urgent, with a plaintive solo from trumpeter Yazz Ahmed.
Tori Freestone’s Spontaneous Symmetry was inspired by ‘patterns in nature.’ It brought to mind Alexander Calder mobiles, where shapes move to create simple or complex, clashing formations: from township-like triads to dark swirling moods. Arpeggios spilled out into Brigitte Beraha’s pure-toned vocal solo. Freestone’s gorgeous tenor sound smoothed her unusual, almost spiky phrases.
Beraha’s composition Donna’s Secret (the title of their forthcoming album), was dedicated to the novels of Donna Tartt. Beraha’s French phrases were echoed in English by bassist Charlie Pyne. 
Later Pyne sang precipitous intervals in harmony with Beraha - while playing double bass; then she scatted in unison with her bass over Katie Patterson’s skipping rimshots.  Helena Kay’s thoughtful clarinet solo rode the waves of repeated chordal phrases.
Their repertoire includes music by non-members too. Nikki Iles’ Negomi was Kenny Wheeler’s back-to-front name for her daughter Imogen, and the music clearly carried Wheeler’s stamp. 
The arching melodies swept over each other, bari and trombone (Emma Bassett) earthing everything. Freestone’s tenor phrases were like stepping stones across the complex chords.
Issie Barratt’s Kulning ended the all-too-short set with humour and skill. ‘Eventually, you will hear a herd of cows heading our way, so I suggest you run for cover at that point!’ she warned us, as the piece was based on a song used by Swedish women to summon cows. Barratt likes music that ‘tells stories’ and Kulning was almost visual: Beraha’s call over recorded cowbells and birdsong drifted into harmonised horns in 7/8 riffs, and Shirley Smart’s sonorous cello solo. As bari and trombone pushed against flute and clarinet, the cows came home in an atonal rush.
This was a quietly confident band, full of sophisticated music and improvisational skill. There was only time for half their repertoire, and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest.
Alison.

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