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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 Wednesday June 19

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.

Alexys de Alfaro & Julija Jacenaite - Jazz Café, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 261 5618. 2:00pm. Free. Café Mezzanine (first floor, access via crafts shop).

Evening

Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £1.00.

Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:15pm. £3.00.

Blues

Moonshine Sessions - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 8:30pm. Free.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2018

More on Aretha (1942 - 2018)

(By Steve T)
It's common knowledge that Aretha sang gospel prior to becoming the Queen of Soul, but the Jazz is less known, though what I've heard sounds fine.
It may come as a surprise to some that I haven't heard everything she's ever done, but I haven't and have no intention of doing so. Much is made of her gospel roots, but that was already present, in the music of Ray Charles, James Brown, Solomon Burke and especially Sam Cooke.

Nevertheless, it's impossible to overstate her significance in soul music, and particularly amongst the ladies. For many years it was difficult for female soul singers to become established without the Aretha grain. Roberta Flack initially became a singer-songwriter in the vein of Joni Mitchell because she didn't fit the Aretha model. You either did Aretha or Diana Ross.

As I scour the news channels, I cringe at some of the clips of her faltering voice; a voice on the edge, on a tightrope, the site of the finest art. Hardened Soul Fans will tell you that, while Aretha's voice often fell on the wrong side of good taste, particularly after her sixties/early seventies heyday, Linda Jones never missed.
There are countless soul singers with incredible voices: Mavis Staples, Gladys Knight, Barbara Acklin, Maxine Brown, Betty Wright, Barbara Lynn, Betty Swan, Barbara Lewis, Millie Jackson, Margie Joseph, Denise Lasalle, Shirley Brown, Chaka Khan, Minnie Ripperton, Jean Carn, Phyllis Hyman, Angela Bofill, Anita Baker, Regina Belle, Angie Stone. Whether it matters that none of these would have happened - at least in the same way - without Aretha, is for you to decide.
   
At a time when - despite what the myths tell you - the album was dead in the wood, Aretha defied everyone, releasing not just one, but two classic albums - Never Loved a Man and Lady Soul. Only Curtis Mayfield had produced quality Soul Albums at that time, by his group the Impressions, but he, like Marvin Gaye, are soul artists who stand outside time. (Curtis would go on to write and produce Aretha.)

She never again hit the dizzy heights but the best ever version of Oh no not my Baby bolstered the Spirit in the Dark album a couple of years later. Also check out It Only Happens, the finest ever version of a modern soul biggie. Her voice went through changes in the seventies and eighties and as she hit the cabaret trail and started mixing with Annie Lennox and George Michael, soul fans either pulled out their hair or just lost interest.

I was knocking around with soul DJs at the time of the release of Who's Zooming Who and they had to buy everything just in case, otherwise I wouldn't have heard Integrity, a final gem of a record. The DJ in question spotted its potential but didn't have the necessary tackle to play it, leaving others to turn it into a staple of the modern scene. Terry Jones, of Hoochie fame, was one of the DJs who did play it.

When I met the future number one wife, she had come at the album from a different perspective, but still spotted it as the strongest cut on the album. 
Finally, one treasure you shouldn't miss is Aretha, Sing One for Me by legendary songwriter George Jackson.
Steve T

3 comments :

Steve T said...

I shouldn't have missed Doris Duke and Sandra Feva; two former backing singers in a similar vein. Also can't believe I didn't include Irma Thomas and Betty Lavette. And while we're about it, there's Debbie Taylor, Zulema, Ann Sexton, Patti Austin, Eloise Laws and no doubt loads of others who'll come to me in the coming days.

Steve T said...

CAN'T believe I'd forgotten Laura Lee, Candi Statton, Dorothy Moore and Mary J Bligh, even on my second stab. Then there's Brenda Russell, Linda Clifford, Sandra Wright, Betty Everett, Gloria Scott, Rozetta Johnson, Betty Harris, Deniece Williams, Jill Scott, Teena Marie and presumably loads more.
You can take from this that Aretha was hugely influential on a lot of people. Also that there are loads of great female Soul Singers, in a genre - like jazz, blues and reggae - significantly dominated by men, many of whom are - dare I say - as good as Aretha.

Steve T said...

Turns out the trumpet solo on Integrity (from Who's Zooming Who) was none other than one D. Gillespie. Further evidence of the former intertextuality between Soul and Jazz we're in danger of losing.

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