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Bebop Spoken There

Jeremy Pelt: "It [Birth of the Cool sessions] was bebop in sheep's clothing." - (DownBeat, December 2019).

Archive

Today Wednesday November 13

Afternoon

Jazz

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool - Tyneside Cinema, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle NE1 6QG. Tel: 0191 227 5500. 12:15pm. Stanley Nelson's 2019 documentary film.

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free admission.

Evening

Jazz

Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £1.00.

Swing Street - Pier Red, Castlegate, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 1LF. Tel: 01289 309168. 8:00pm. Free.

Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:15pm. £3.00.

Blues/Folk

George Shovlin & the Radars, Charts, Quayside, Newcastle NE1 3DE. Tel: 0191 338 7989. 8:00pm. Free.

Moonshine Sessions - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 8:30pm. Free.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

CD Review: Ralph Alessi – Imaginary Friends

Ralph Alessi (trumpet); Ravi Coltrane (tenor saxophone, sopranino); Andy Milne (piano); Drew Gress (double bass); Mark Ferber (drums).
(Review by Hugh C).

Imaginary Friends is this particular quintet’s first release since 2010.  The band had been working hard developing the material on the road before arriving at La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines to record with Manfred Eicher.  Alessi and Coltrane have been long-time friends and musical associates since their time as students at California Institute of Arts in the late 1980s, both are now based in New York.

This is a proper CD recording – just over one hour’s music, with none of that pseudo-vinyl 40-minute nonsense!  It comprises nine tracks, all Alessi compositions. 

Iram Issela (named after Alessi’s young daughter) commences with a chordal progression on solo piano, to which Alessi adds atmospheric trumpet, followed by Gress and Ferber.  This is quintessential ECM stuff with sonorous overtones from Coltrane’s tenor in the central section.

Oxide reduces the music to its individual chemical constituents, slowly converging to form a smoke-like wraith of melody, in gaseous form.  Did I detect a bit of rust on the piano?  Prepared piano is quoted as being used by Milne on some of the tracks.  The wraith disappears as mysteriously as it came. 

Improper Authorities jolts the listener out of their induced trance with an almost drum ‘n’ bass-like rhythm set up by Ferber and Gress.  Coltrane’s tenor and Milne’s piano provide the melodic surface layer, joined later by trumpet.

Pittance reverts to the more meditative vibe of the first two tracks and again features prepared piano.  An extended drum solo by Ferber introduces Fun Room, joined by piano introducing a bitonal percussive theme, then improvisatory trumpet playing by Alessi - the musicians are having a great time in here!  Coltrane is finally allowed to join the fun near the end.

The title track, Imaginary Friends, brings the pace down again.  Atmospheric cymbal work with a simple repetitive piano melody and subtle arco bass introduces the concept.  The horns join the assembly with a relatively free-style overlay, but a still discernibly melodic whole is the end result.  These friends may be imaginary, but they are definitely friends. 

Around the Corner takes us back to the more characteristic (for ECM) sound of trumpet with added reverb, floating over a rhythmic and subtly melodic underlay provided by piano-bass-drums.  We are taken straight to the centre of the Melee – somewhat reminiscent of being next to a metaphorical Arc de Triomphe, surrounded by fast-moving and noisy circulation.  It takes nearly four minutes before there is a gap in the traffic and we can cross, exhausted, to a café on the Champs-Élysées for a temporary respite, before re-entering the melée towards the end.  Good Boy, a beautiful duet in rubato fashion between Alessi and Milne, closes the proceedings.

I really enjoyed this CD, and highly recommend it.  Imaginary Friends is available now (ECM 2629) and is also featured on a popular streaming site to try before you buy.
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.
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