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Farewell Blues

R I P Terry Shannon - November 5, 1929 - October 29, 2022
R I P Oliver Soden - ? - November 6, 2022
R I P Top Cat Daphne - ? - November 24, 2022.
R I P Louise Tobin - November 11, 1918 - November 26, 2022

Bebop Spoken There

Kenny Barron: "During the pandemic I got to do a lot more cooking. As long as you can read you can cook." - (DownBeat December, 2022)

The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite & Katz Communications) You’re the BEST!

Holly Cooper, Mouthpiece Music: "Lance writes pull quotes like no one else!"

Postage

14865 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 14 years ago. 1114 of them this year alone and, so far, 20 this month (Dec. 6).

From This Moment On ...

December

Thu 08: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Last one of the year, resuming Jan 26.
Thu 08: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library. 3:00-5:00pm. £1.00. All welcome.
Thu 08: Indigo Jazz Voices @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:45pm.
Thu 08: Christmas Crooners @ Alnwick Playhouse. 7:30pm.
Thu 08: Musicians Unlimited @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. £5.00. on the door.

Fri 09: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon. £25.00. 'Afternoon Jazz with Festive Lunch'.
Fri 09: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 09: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 09: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 09: Jason Isaacs @ Northern Rugby Club, Gosforth, Newcastle. 7:00pm. £25.00 (inc. two course Xmas meal). Isaacs performing with backing tapes.

Sat 10: Lindsay Hannon & Martin Douglas: Life Drawing & Improvised Music @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 2:00-4:00pm. TBC.
Sat 10: Alan Barnes Octet: A Jazz Xmas Carol @ Black Swan, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £20.00. All-star band!

Sun 11: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 11: Spanish City Rollers @ Northumberland Square, North Shields. 12:30pm. Free. Community band inc. Graham Hardy.
Sun 11: Am Jam @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 3:00pm. Free. Jam session, all welcome.
Sun 11: Musicians Unlimited @ Park Inn, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Xmas party feat. Mick Donnelly Quartet. 4:00pm. Tickets: £6.00 (admission from 12 noon).
Sun 11: Paul Skerritt @ Liberty Brown's, Sunderland. 1:00pm.
Sun 11: Tees Valley Jazzmen @ Hammer & Pincers, Preston le Skerne. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Sun 11: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 11: DC Blues Band @ Tyne Bar, Newcastle. 4:00pm. Free. Blues Band.
Sun 11: Jason Isaacs @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. 5:30pm. SOLD OUT!
Sun 11: Boys of Brass @ Stack, Seaburn. 6:00pm. Free.
Sun 11: Elda with Faye MacCalman + John Pope & John Garner @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 12: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 12: Central Bar Quintet plays Kind of Blue @ Central Bar, Gateshead. 7:30pm. Concert performance + jam session. £5.00 (free admission to sitters-in).

Tue 13: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Durham. 7:00pm. Free (table reservations 0191 386 5556). Feat. Johnny Murphy (keyboards).
Tue 13: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. House trio: Murray Wankling, John Pope, John Bradford.
Tue 13: Abbie Finn Trio @ Forum Music Centre, Darlington. 7:30pm. Xmas party.
Tue 13: King Bees @ Cumberland Arms, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Superb Chicago Blues Band.

Wed 14: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 14: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 14: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 14: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

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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