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Bebop Spoken There

David Binney: "In this age, we musicians need to do anything we can to make a living, and ninety-nine percent of us will have to do a wide variety of things." - (Jazz Times May 2019)

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.

Until July 21

Today Tuesday July 16

Afternoon

Jazz

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

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Jazz

Gala Big Band w. ALAN BARNES: Strictly Come BRASSing - Gala Theatre, Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA. Tel: 03000 266 600. 7:30pm. £15.00. (£12.00. concs.). A Durham Brass Festival event.

River City Jazzmen - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NW. Tel: 01670 813983 (info). 8:00pm. £5.00. (inc. raffle). RCJ with Don Armstrong (clarinet, saxophone, penny whistle, vocals).

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SOLD OUT!

Zoe Rahman & Laura MacDonald - Lit & Phil, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SE. Tel: 0191 232 0192.. 8:00pm. £12.00. (£10.00. concs.). JNE.

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Northern Monkey Brass Band - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB.Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (donations).

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Zoë Gilby and the Noel Dennis Quartet – Aurora @ The Gala Studio, Durham - Jan.4

Zoë Gilby (voice), Noel Dennis (flugelhorn, trumpet), Andy Champion (double bass) Mark Williams (guitar), Russ Morgan (drums).
(Review by Brian Ebbatson/PHOTOS courtesy of Malcolm Sinclair).

The Gala Lunchtime Concert Series opened the New Year with a fourth outing for Zoë Gilby and Noel Dennis’s exciting Aurora project, exploring the lyrical possibilities of favourite Tom Harrell compositions.  

Rarely does one of Noel’s concerts go by without at least one Harrell tune. So it’s not a surprise that he grabs the chance to explore the possibilities of Harrell’s music further through using lyrics inspired by their titles and the addition of the human voice to the ensemble. Hence Aurora.

The titles of so many Harrell compositions invite the listener to imagine his musical inspirations. So it’s not surprising that Zoë Gilby welcomed the challenge. Zoë writes: “It was initially Andy’s idea that I write lyrics for Harrell’s compositions. He recognised how lyrical and melodic they are. They are just ‘singable’.” She adds:”I wrote the lyrics based purely on the titles of the tunes and how the melodies sounded, what they conjured up in my mind”.  Noel added: “The lyrics are so good. Each time we hear them we get to know them better, and this then gives further stimulation to our playing”.

The band members have all worked together in many and varied line-ups and are clearly very familiar with each other’s playing, so this concert was an opportunity to showcase not just the music but also the confidence they have in the music they are developing.

They opened with Moon Alley, from the 1985/6 album of the same name. Noel’s flugel intro set a melancholy mood, reflected in Zoë’s opening lines ‘Shadowed in solitude, isolate a mind that won’t be fooled’. As the song developed, Mark’s assured guitar lines reinforce and develop the feeling, Zoë comes back to the lyrics, Noel weaving counter phrases behind her, then soloing with Zoë whispering her lyrics behind him, and Andy’s bass picking out harmonies and countermelodies. An impressive opener!

Little Dancer, from Look to the Sky (1979 with John McNeil), is a gift to a storyteller like Zoë: ‘Leap to the limelight, spinning round, perform like your feet never touch the ground …’ ‘Tapping feet pulsing a beat’ caught the pace for Noel’s upbeat solo, leading to Zoë’s final words ‘A twisting turn to capture the breath, Pirouette never forget’, Noel finished low for Mark to take the song out.

Two songs now from Sail Away (1989). First the title song: Mark spells out the chords leading to the simple, but beautiful melody ‘Sail away, distant shape a silhouette, a boat of no regret roams free,’ sings Zoë, ‘Sail away, on a breeze that time forgets’… ‘a changing of the tide, an ocean deep and wide, where you can always hide away, a momentary place, of peace.’ Zoë sings a line, with Noel behind her, then Noel leads with the voice behind. Drum, bass and guitar all hold the pace and enhance the mood before Noel again takes the final chorus to its ‘momentary place of peace’.

Despite the cold winter outside, Zoë asks the audience to imagine the first growths of spring for April Mist, a piece recorded by Harrell, both on Sail Away and on the 1992 Visions. Russ and Andy set a brisk rhythm, with Noel coming in on the catchy melody. Both Noel and Mark weave patterns behind Zoë’s voice and lengthy lyric. ‘Embrace the morning light, the dewy haze alights, a brighten day arise, a dawning break,   the leaves unfold, as blossom grows … A passing charm, lovers walk arm in arm,  the April mist, the future promises, another kiss, a chance you cannot miss, a timeless place’. Andy takes a solo, followed by an extended feature by Russ with brushes and palms, before Zoë and Noel return, trumpet leading abstract vocalese, then slowing right down to whispered close.

Angela from Upswing (1994), dedicated to Harrell’s partner and co-producer, is described by Zoë as ‘a very intense, passionate tune’. ‘I’m almost too frightened to perform it’, she says. Russ leads the band straight into Zoë’s lyric: ‘Pulsing heart rate … rising fever … a passion play performing your serenade …’. Mark’s guitar chords and Russ’s driving percussion set the pace for Noel’s exposition and exploration of the melody; then Zoë returns before Noel embarks again on a lengthy flugel solo, joined by Zoë’s intense, abstract, almost tortured vocalese. Her voice is now another instrument, driven on by guitar, bass and drums. Mark takes over the lead, breaking loose before slowing the whole thing back to the opening lines and a slow, low close.
The Water’ Edge from Tom’s first solo project (Total, 1976), (also on Stories, 1988), is another title inviting Zoë to conjure up impressionistic images: ‘Quiet, crashing, beautiful, the ripples cascading not fading, splashing, lapping ebb and flow ...’ Mark, Andy and Noel all solo before Zoë finishes on an extended high note.

The band closes with the funky Aurora (also from Total), a tune casting back to Harrell’s time with Horace Silver. Andy leads in, Russ and Mark soon joining him, to establish mood and pace. Zoë’s lyrics conjure the ‘lightning strike across the sky … a celestial delight, under a canopy kaleidoscope, the aurora is … alive’. Andy’s resounding bass seems to lead the piece, Mark joins with synth-like chords, before turning up the volume and taking off on what the programme notes call one of his ‘frenetic flights’, Noel’s at first punctured trumpet lines turn to late Miles calls and turns. The lyric is fast and funky, leading to another vocalese improvisation by Zoë, Noel backing and extending her lines, the whole band tight and together for a ten plus minute climax to the performance, taking the audience with them to a triumphal close.  
Do the lyrics work? Certainly the band feel so, and this audience responded with enthusiasm. But Zoë’s voice is not just the vehicle for words but also an opportunity to be an instrument contributing to the total texture, colour and sound of the performance. As Zoë says, she’s experimenting and communicating through her vocalese, interacting with and immersing herself in the sound of the band. “It’s exciting, dangerous and impossible to resist.” The Gala audience would concur. This music can only flourish. Other venues please note.
Brian

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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