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Bebop Spoken There

Art Hirahara: "Playing with people is the most important thing to me, and not playing with people is torture." - (DownBeat August, 2020)


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

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11,767 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 907 of them this year alone and, so far, 44 this month (August 11).

Coming soon ...


Wednesday 12: Happy Birthday Ros Rigby & Don Fairley.

Thursday 13: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Frog and Henry @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington - Feb 16

Ewan Bleach (soprano sax, baritone sax, bass sax, clarinet, vocals); Laurin Hebart (alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet); FH Henry (guitar, banjo, vocals); Kerman Arken (violin, vocals); Dave Neigh (tuba machine, banjo)
(Review by Russell) 

Frog and Henry are in the vanguard of a younger generation of musicians seeking something other than being considered 'hip' or 'cool'. Darlington New Orleans Jazz Club's faith in the music paid off handsomely with a large turnout at St Augustine's on Larchfield Street. 

Frontman Ewan Bleach introduced the numbers and, along the way, introduced his bandmates - two of them hailing from Canada, one from Germany and an American from the state of Tennessee. Bleach, from the Deep South (Oxford, to be precise) played no fewer than four reeds - soprano, baritone and bass saxophones and clarinet - and, sitting to his right, Laurin Hebart played alto and tenor saxophones and clarinet, the pair of them just about covering all the reeds. 

The Frog and Henry strings - FH Henry, guitar, banjo and vocals, and Kerman Arken, violin and vocals - were joined by brass bass master Dave Neigh playing, perhaps that should be 'operating', his custom-built tuba machine. As if getting to grips with the plumbing of his three-quarter size sousaphone wasn't enough Neigh managed to play banjo at the same time thanks to an ingenious arrangement of pedals and leg attachments enabling him to blow, effectively hands-free, brass bass.  

Charlie Johnson and his Paradise Ten, Armand J Piron, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver - these are just some of the figures from which Frog and Henry take inspiration and on this Saturday lunchtime gig numbers such as Shreveport Stomp and Buddy's Habit illustrated what they're about. Save for a vocal mic the quintet played entirely acoustically. A casual virtuosity (all five sitting comfortably), the ensemble work nothing short of sensational, the spotlight solos equally sensational, the Big Easy-resident combo (Bleach, British-resident, the exception) won over the Darlington audience in no time at all. 

Bleach sang Spencer Williams' I Ain't Got Nobody (a pop song of the day, said Bleach), Harry Warren's By the River St Marie and played clarinet on Tom Turpin's piano rag St Louis Rag

Our man from Tennessee, the splendidly named Mr Kerman Arken, played superb 'old timey' fiddle, singing one or two numbers into the bargain including My Gal Sal as Laurin Hebart's mature alto sax, tenor sax and clarinet playing suggested swing era charts would be well within his compass. 

The interval is usually the preserve of the raffle and a trip to the bar. These matters were indeed attended to, however, on this occasion, the tuba machine was the focus of attention. Dave Neigh graciously remained on stage to take questions from the many interested onlookers patiently explaining the workings of this unique instrument. Neigh explained that a nineteenth-century photograph of a similar 'tuba machine' encouraged him to build one and figure out how it worked. The unknown musician from those distant times could never have imagined there would be such interest more than a century later. 

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