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Bebop Spoken There

Jackie Paris: "A singer's got to be able to tell a story. Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole are best at that; Mel Tormé too. I like to take a lyric that means something and sing it right to the person it was meant for." - (DownBeat October 11, 1962).


Daily: July 6 - October 27

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden - Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA. Tel: 0191 478 1810. Screenings at intervals during the day. Part of Akomfrah's exhibition Ballasts of Memory. Exhibition (daily) July 6 - October 27. 10:00am-6:00pm. Free.

Today Monday September 16



Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden (see above).

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.



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

Monday, September 10, 2018

Ambleside Days – A Contemporary Jazz Festival - August 30 - September 2

(Review by Hugh C.)
WOW!  Another very special festival.  Derek Hook and his team triumphed again, bringing together a lyrical constellation of musicians, plucked from the jazz firmament, for this, the second Ambleside Days Festival.  The festival ran over four successive days, with the same arrangements as last year:  a one hour concert at 7.30pm followed (after a half-hour interval) by a 90-minute performance by a different ensemble.  Many of the musicians were involved in more than one of the performances over the duration of the festival.  Gwilym Simcock (piano) and Mike Walker (guitar) popped up in many different ensembles and were also heavily involved in organisational aspects of the festival. 
Cinema 1 at Zeffirellis, in the heart of Ambleside (itself the at the heart of the Lake District) was converted into a compact, but comfortable concert venue for the duration with transfer of the Steinway grand piano from the guest lounge of Derek Hook’s Yewfield guest house and installation of a maze of cables and microphones linked to an impressive digital mixing desk ably managed by sound engineer, Paul Allen.

In addition to the main events in Cinema 1, there were early evening small group performances (a form of musical hors-d’œuvre) in the adjacent Jazz Lounge commencing with Jazz Piano on Thursday; Jason Rebello, Yuri Goloubev and Asaf Sirkis on Friday; the John Helliwell Trio (pictured above courtesy of Hugh C) on Saturday and Nikki Iles and Guests on Sunday. 

On Saturday Afternoon we were also treated to two full 45-minute sets by multi-reed specialist Paul McCandless (co-founder with Ralph Towner of the innovative jazz quartet, Oregon) with the Californian, Bay Area-based, trio Charged Particles.  On the Friday afternoon Tim Garland gave a presentation on the recording (in four separate studios) of his latest CD, Weather Walker – inspired by the Lake District and its geology.  We were treated to a visually stunning short film created by photographer and mountaineer Alastair Lee set to music from the album and then to 30 minutes or so of music from the album in cinematic 5.1 surround sound.  The film can be viewed here: 

(Photos that follow are courtesy of David Forman -

Day 1, Thursday

The first concert of the festival: there was a palpable air of expectancy in the house, with a quiet hubbub of conversation as the audience filed in from the bar area through the entrance to Cinema 1.  Derek Hook introduced the festival and the first group of musicians.

Gwilym Simcock (piano), Mike Walker (guitar) and Asaf Sirkis (percussion) formed the Ambleside Days Trio, who commenced with a rendition of Ambleside Days by the late John Taylor followed by a continuous hour of music including tunes by Caldera and Michael Franks.  I’m sure there was a touch of Impossible Gentlemen in there as well, perhaps not surprising as two of the constituent members were on the stage!

After the break the Tim Garland Quartet took to the stage (Tim Garland – reeds; Jason Rebello – piano; Yuri Goloubev – double bass;  Asaf Sirkis – percussion) for a blistering performance of items from Garland’s latest CD, Weather Walker (rearranged for quartet from the original strings) and from his CD back catalogue including One, Via and Songs to the North Sky.
Day 2, Friday

Paul McCandless with Charged Particles (Paul McCandless - reeds; Murray Low – keys; Aaron Germain – bass; Jon Krosnick – drums) started the evening’s event with a selection from McCandless’ extensive (30 albums as leader!) catalogue.  Particularly impressive in this set was Krosnick’s array of brassware with a grand total of seven cymbals, all liberally used to good effect!

After a major stage re-arrangement during the “intermission” the Joe Locke Band took to the stage (Joe Locke – vibes; Gwilym Simcock – piano; Mike Walker – guitar; Alyn Cosker – drums; Darryl Hall – bass).  The band played with the projection of unrelated, but effective, black and white scenes of vintage New York and circus performers.  Part way through the band was joined on stage by Special Guest, Claire Martin for a jazz rendition of Ticket to Ride followed by a Locke/Martin duet with lyrics by Joe Locke to his instrumental number Make Me Feel Like It’s Raining, and renamed A Little More Each Day

Day 3, Saturday

After a poetic introduction by Derek Hook reading Questions About Angels (by Billy Collins):  “one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet, a small jazz combo working in the background”,
Claire Martin with the Nikki Iles Quartet commenced the evening’s entertainment.  The band was introduced by Claire Martin:  Nikki Iles, “miles of smiles”  - piano; Mark Lockheart – saxophones; Alyn Cosker – drums; Darryl Hall (“we’ve only just met”) - bass.  The material chosen by Martin was, simply, her favourite songs, sung in her inimitable style, irrespective of their origin.  Mike Walker joined as special guest.

After the extended bar-break, the eponymous Johannes Berauer’s Hourglass took to the stage but without Johannes Berauer, the composer of the music, who sat with the audience.   The Hourglass comprises Thomas Gould – violin; Martin Berauer – bass; Bernhard Schimpelsberger – percussion; Gwilym Simcock – piano; Mike Walker – guitar.  The audience were treated to a world premiere:  the first live public performance of their recently released recording on the Basho label.  The audience was transfixed by an electrifying performance and rose to a standing ovation at the end. 

Day 4, Sunday

The Gwilym Simcock Trio provided the first set, in Gwilym’s words, “a musical conversation with his mates” Yuri and Asaf.  The audience was privileged to sit and listen in. Topics covered included, Fred, Christina, Alan Taylor’s Between Moons and, when his mate Tim joined the conversation, A Joy Forever.

After the final intermission of the festival, it was time for the party!  The Ambleside Days Ensemble  (Thomas Gould, Mike Walker, Bernhard Schimpelsberger, Tim Garland), joined the trio. We were offered an array of treats, including jazzed up J S Bach, an item from the Hourglass premier – rewritten for the ensemble and conducted by the composer, and a frantic mechanical and vocal percussive duet between Asaf Sirkis and Bernhard Schimpelsberger which was effectively an old-style cutting contest – I declare it a draw!  The ensemble was joined by “saxophonist and local lad” John Helliwell for the final number.

Well, what more to say? What a fantastic event!  Everyone – organisers, musicians, musicians' relatives, audience were so friendly.  The musicians, particularly (but not exclusively) those attending the festival or playing in Ambleside for the first time, emphasised how they felt part of one big musical family.  It would perhaps be iniquitous to pick out a favourite from the Festival, but if I had to name gig of the festival, and indeed gig of the year, it would be Johannes Berauer’s Hourglass

The musicians assembled in the bar before, between and after gigs and were happy to answer questions and talk to audience members.  The “merch” table, staffed by Christine Allen of Basho records had a large array of CDs and other festival memorabilia at very reasonable prices (all multiples of £5 for convenience).  I can now truthfully say of Ambleside Days 2018:  been there, done that, got the T-shirt!
And the good news is…
… it is planned to be repeated next year!

Hugh C.

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
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