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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

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

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.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Nicola Farnon Trio & Early Bird Big Band @ Ushaw, Durham - August 24

Nicola Farnon (vocals/bass); Paul Edis (piano); Phil Johnson (drums)
(Review by Lance).
Headlining day one of Ushaw Jazz Festival 2018, and, because of an imminent power cut, the trio gave a stunning, albeit abbreviated, performance in the august setting of the historic building's Exhibition Hall.
To refer to Ms. Farnon as someone who sings and plays the double bass simultaneously is to do the artist a disservice unless you add that she does both things brilliantly and seamlessly.
A choice selection of GASbook gems plus one of her own compositions had the audience enraptured. All the usual suspects were represented: Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Duke (V); Duke (E); Rodgers and Hart - particularly Rodgers and Hart. For me, the song of the evening in an evening full of super songs, was the Broadway duo's You Are Too Beautiful. Like Nicola Farnon, I too have loved this song since hearing Johnny Hartman do it with John Coltrane. That is the benchmark and, in its own way, so is Nicola's version. Sung with a delicate, almost ethereal quality, it was as if she was singing to you alone - or so we all thought until we got home and looked in the mirror - such was the emotional impact of her rendition.
Apart from the voice, her bass playing was well up to scratch and her inter-song patter both amusing and informative.
On drums, Phil Johnson did the business exploding when explosions were called for particularly when exchanging fours with Nicola during scat choruses. The pair work well together and by adding the ubiquitous Paul Edis you have a trio - and boy what a trio!

Earlier, Paul had helped to move chairs to accommodate more people in the Francis Thompson Room where he led and played alto with the Early Bird Big Band - more about that shortly. Being the prime organiser of the festival, the news of the impending power cut or 'outage' as the bright sparks ('sparks' get it?) called it might have detracted a lesser person from the business in hand. Not Paul, he played his customary blinder, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by either Nicola or the audience.
A truly magical evening.
Lance.
That Old Devil Moon; Day in, Day Out; The Summer Wind; Taking a Chance on Love; A Foggy Day; The More I See You; This Can't Be Love; It's Just Got To Be That Way (original); Just in Time; You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to; One Note Samba; You Are Too Beautiful; Don't Get Around Much Anymore: Cheek to Cheek.
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Early Bird Big Band: Paul Edis (MD, alto); Haaruun Miller (alto, soprano); Alex Thompson (tenor); Megan Robinson (flute); Ryan de Silva (baritone); Andrew Hedges (trombone); James Metcalf, Graham Hardy (trumpets); Ben Lawrence (piano); Matthew Downey (guitar); Alex Shipsey (bass guitar); Dylan Thompson (drums).
Six O'Clock and the third Ushaw Jazz Festival was underway. Maestro Edis, as Nicola Farnon was to refer to him later, announced that apart from himself and guest trumpet player Graham Hardy all of the band were 18 or under and, not only that but four of them were also composers of very demanding scores - don't they grow up fast these days!

James Metcalf provided Lincoln's Lament, Alex Thompson chipped in with In a Distant Dream, flautist Megan asked Where's it All Leading? and Ben Lawrence gave us the picturesque titled Soft Hazel, inspired, I was told by some hazelnut painted walls!.
In a band of this nature it would be unfair to single out individual soloists - they all soled bar one so I'll mention him.

On drums, Dylan Thompson proved his worth by handling the different rhythms and time signatures thrown at him with the ease of a seasoned professional. Having heard him in different settings I know what an accomplished soloist he is and a couple of choruses on the 12 bar finale would have told the audience just that.
Nevertheless, it was an enlightening set and an eyeopener to anyone hearing these young musicians for the first time.
Lance.
Photos.

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