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Bebop Spoken There

Raymond Chandler: “ I was walking the floor and listening to Khatchaturian working in a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I called it a loose fan belt and the hell with it ". The Long Goodbye, Penguin 1959.

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!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.

Postage

16350 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 230 of them this year alone and, so far, 27 this month (April 11).

From This Moment On ...

April

Fri 19: Cia Tomasso @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. ‘Cia Tomasso sings Billie Holiday’. SOLD OUT!
Fri 19: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 19: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 19: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 19: Tweed River Jazz Band @ The Radio Rooms, Berwick. 7:00pm (doors). £5.00.
Fri 19: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Seventeen Nineteen, Hendon, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Fri 19: Levitation Orchestra + Nauta @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors). £11.00.
Fri 19: Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 8:00pm. ‘Ella & Ellington’.

Sat 20: Record Store Day…at a store near you!
Sat 20: Bright Street Band @ Washington Arts Centre. 6:30pm. Swing dance taster session (6:30pm) followed by Bright Street Big Band (7:30pm). £12.00.
Sat 20: Michael Woods @ Victoria Tunnel, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Acoustic blues.
Sat 20: Rendezvous Jazz @ St Andrew’s Church, Monkseaton. 7:30pm. £10.00. (inc. a drink on arrival).

Sun 21: Jamie Toms Quartet @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm.
Sun 21: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 21: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Holy Grale, Durham. 5:00pm.
Sun 21: The Jazz Defenders @ Cluny 2. Doors 6:00pm. £15.00.
Sun 21: Edgar Rubenis @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Blues & ragtime guitar.
Sun 21: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 21: Art Themen with the Dean Stockdale Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £10.00. +bf. JNE. SOLD OUT!

Mon 22: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 23: Vieux Carre Hot 4 @ Victoria & Albert Inn, Seaton Delaval. 12:30-3:30pm. £12.00. ‘St George’s Day Afternoon Tea’. Gig with ‘Lashings of Victoria Sponge Cake, along with sandwiches & scones’.
Tue 23: Jalen Ngonda @ Newcastle University Students’ Union. POSTPONED!

Wed 24: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 24: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 24: Sinatra: Raw @ Darlington Hippodrome. 7:30pm. Richard Shelton.
Wed 24: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 24: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.

Thu 25: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 25: Jim Jams @ King’s Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Jim Jams’ funk collective.
Thu 25: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 25: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.
Thu 25: Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 25: Kate O’Neill, Alan Law & Paul Grainger @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass); Garry Hadfield (keys).

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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