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Bebop Spoken There

Sting: "It was great. They [the River City Jazzmen] all wore blue suits. The band had been together for about twenty years, which was the same age as the suits." - (Melody Maker Sept. 22, 1979).

Archive

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 October 21

Afternoon

Jazz

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

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

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool - Tyneside Cinema, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle NE1 6QG. Tel: 0191 227 5500. 3:00pm/5:30pm. Screening of Stanley Nelson's documentary film (2019, cert. 15, 1hr 55mins).

Evening

?????

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Guitar Lessons: James Birkett & Bradley Johnston @ Blaydon Jazz Club – Oct. 21

Bradley Johnson, James Birkett (guitars); Irene (vocal)
(Review by Jerry)

My last gig chipped away at my general ignorance of jazz trumpet: this time out it was jazz guitar and who better to enlighten me than Messrs. JB & BJ? James Birkett promised us a selection of guitar tunes from different decades and, with a set-list from Eddie Lang to Pat Metheny, every decade from the 20’s to the present was covered. As Lang pretty much invented jazz guitar (the banjo was the instrument of choice before him) I guess you could say that’s the entire history? The selection included one which was, according to Birkett, “a little corker” and another which was “a gas to play”. For the listeners they were all “corkers” and “a gas” to listen to: as history lessons go, it sure was lively!

The evening started and finished on Django favourites, Swing 39 and Dark Eyes. I’d not heard the former played live before and the latter, far from being “a moment of madness” is always a great finale. Also from Django’s canon were: I’m Confessin’ that I Love You; Nuages and Artillerie Lourde. This last was very dramatically performed with variations of pace and volume which I don’t recall from the version recorded on my Djangologie CD. All were beautifully played and it was a particular pleasure to see Bradley Johnston whizzing through Dark Eyes with much aplomb. I first saw him at the age of about 17 with Jambone, and Roly reminded us of his first Blaydon gig at about 14: how far he has come in those few short years!

Eddie Lang was also well represented with Perfect, Blue Room and Stringing the Blues, on which Bradley got to play Joe Venuti’s part. Blue Room was probably my favourite tune of the evening (my weakness for blues again!) as this (1929?) collaboration with Lonnie Johnson sounded purely Delta! I’m not sure why Salvatore Massaro had to become Eddie Lang for professional purposes but his billing as Blind Willie Dunn on collaborations with Johnson speaks volumes about 1920’s America.

“When you get two guitarists in the room there’s always a bossa nova” and so we had the quiet, gentle, Benny Carter tune, Only Trust Your Heart which kept reminding me, simultaneously and perhaps obscurely of I’ve Got You Under My Skin and the Beatles’ And I love Her. Sorry if that’s heretical! I recognised (and enjoyed – especially the snap ending) Chicken-A-La-Swing but could not, before, have named Carl Kress and Dick McDonough.

I also enjoyed the next unannounced tune but could not, for the life of me, figure out (as Birkett suggested we should) that it was All the Things You Are: “jazz standard re-worked by Bach” was as near as I got to a working hypothesis! Clearly, there is still much to learn!
We then had a “surprise guest”, Irene, adding vocals to the evening on Louis Jordan’s 1944 hit, Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby? Loved that, too! The first set closed with Ray Noble’s Cherokee, a slow-burner which starts quietly and oddly dissonant then builds to a strummed frenzy contrasted with moments of lullaby calm. Intriguing!

In the second set, and as yet unmentioned, we had an unannounced opener and the beautiful ballad, Polka Dots and Moonbeams (no lyrics here so no kissing “the pug-nosed dream”!). The “little corker” mentioned earlier was by Luiz Bonfa but a debate over the correct pronunciation of his forename meant that I missed the title of the tune! It was, however, lyrical and lovely and was very well received by the audience. Which leaves Always and Forever, by Pat Metheny, one of the few living practitioners from tonight’s Hall of Fame. Versions on YouTube came up with cloying graphics and mawkish (in my opinion) lyrics, but the tune itself is spellbinding. Pure gold! Bradley Johnston took the lead throughout showing that he can do slow and sensitive every bit as well as fast and furious stuff like Dark Eyes.
Thanks to both musicians (and Irene) and to Roly Veitch for a fine evening.

Jerry

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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.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Submissions for review

Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to all of them other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.
Lance