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Bebop Spoken There

Cécile McLorin Salvant: "She [Melissa Aldana] makes us realise how terrible it is to be complacent." - (DownBeat July 2019)

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Today Thursday June 20

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Rd., Holystone NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Jazz

Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra - Arc, Dovecot St., Stockton on Tees TS18 1LL. Tel: 01642 525199. 7:00pm. £12.00. + £0.10. bf. ‘Jazz & Tapas’ - booking essential.

Ruth Lambert Quartet - St James' & St Basil's Church, Fenham Hall Drive, Fenham, Newcastle NE4 9EJ. 7:30pm. £8.00.

Heller-Glendinning: Billie Meets Kurt - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm (doors). £6.00. (£3.00. student).

Acoustic Infusion - The Forum, Borough Road, Darlington DL1 1SG. Tel: 01325 363135. 7:30pm. £5.00. Line-up: Alan Thompson (tenor sax); Rick Laughlin (piano); Bruce Rollo (double bass); Ian Halford (drums). Now Abbie Finn on drums.

Durham University Concert Band + Grollingwood Big Band - Durham Town Hall, Market Place, Durham DH1 3NJ. 7:30pm. £10.00., £9.00., £8.00.

Durham University Big Band - Black Swan Bar, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 222 9882. 8:00pm. £6.00. (£5.00 concs.). JNE.

Tees Hot Club w. Gus Smith (vocals); Donna Hewitt (tenor sax), Dave Archbold (keys) - Dormans Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 8:30pm. Free.

Maine Street Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Hollywell Lane, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:30pm. Free.

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm. £2.50.

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

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Giles Strong Trio @ Gala Theatre, Durham, - March 1

(Review & trio photo courtesy of Brian Ebbatson. Individual photos courtesy of Malcolm Sinclair).

For the third concert of the 2019 Lunchtime Jazz series, the capacity audience at the Durham Gala was to be enthralled by a debut performance of the Giles Strong Trio, featuring the engaging and inventive playing of three musicians making their first outing together. Over the past 2 years (or more?) Giles and Roly have established a deserved reputation as a guitar duo, but this was to be their first opportunity to show their wares alongside the accomplished bass of Ian Paterson.

The setlist too was a new departure. “This was all new material for all of us,” said Roly, “so this was its first outing. Giles did most of the hard work on the arrangements, but I tried to take some of the burden with a couple of pieces”. “The bass too is important,” he went on, “it provides much more than just rhythm and harmony, it is the anchor that holds the whole performance together”.



This was clear from the first number, Gene de Paul’s I’ll Remember April, opening with a distinctive bass riff from Ian, leading Roly into the melody and an extended solo (‘That’s Jim Hall’, I wrote down immediately.) The bass then stood out while the two guitars took on the tune, each responding to and supporting each other’s solos. Then Giles came back to the theme and that riff to bring back Ian for the close.

This set the pattern for the arrangements to come. To my (non-musician) ear, Giles’ had sought to pare down the melodies to their essence, often carried by the bass, but used by all instruments to build their solos. Sometimes the interplay was between the two guitarists, sometimes between the bass and one of them, at others between all three. At different times each player led, followed, responded, soloed, stood out, then together they picked up the theme again and took the piece to its close.

Supported by Roly’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the jazz canon, Giles introduced each number, acknowledging the composers / lyricists, giving some of the background (the film, the musical, the first or most famous artist to feature it, the 40’s ‘back to nature living’ Hollywood experiment behind Eder Ahbez’s Nature Boy etc.).  

Then the music. Nature Boy, Cole Porter’s Love for Sale, Giles’ own Everything \was Beautiful,  Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach’s Yesterdays, Johnny Green’s Body and Soul, Fragos/Baker/Gasparre’s I Hear a Rhapsody, they were all vehicles for skilled arrangements, lyrical exposition, intense interplay and inspired improvisation, leaving the audience fully engaged, enthralled and warmly appreciative. There were two more compositions by the guitarists, Roly Veitch’s WT Blues, and Giles’ Billie’s Blues, both executed with the same freshness and invention as the standards and fully able to stand alongside them. (WT (Blues) stands for ‘Whole Tone’ as in whole tone scale, described by Giles as “made up of six notes with each note being a tone apart. It can sound quite restless because it doesn’t have a clear tonal centre, as compared to, for example, a major scale”. So enlightenment as well as musical inspiration for the audience!)
 
Billie’s Blues was to be the closer, but the audience wanted more, so the trio obliged with a full-length Alone Together (by Arthur Schwarz and Howard Dietz for the 1932 Broadway musical Flying Colours). For me the only disappointment was that Roly didn’t break into song at any point, but that in no way detracts from the quality or enjoyment of an excellent performance way to spend an early spring lunchtime.

Brian

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