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Bebop Spoken There

Barry Harris (in 1981): "There is not one place in the world that you can find more jazz musicians from than Detroit." - (DownBeat, September 2019).

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Daily: July 6 - October 27

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden - Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA. Tel: 0191 478 1810. Screenings at intervals during the day. Part of Akomfrah's exhibition Ballasts of Memory. Exhibition (daily) July 6 - October 27. 10:00am-6:00pm. Free.

Today Saturday August 17

Afternoon

Jazz

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden (see above).

Newcastle Jazz Festival - Tyne Bank Brewery, Walker Road, Newcastle NE6 2AB. Tel: 0191 265 2828. £15.00. All day event, line-up:

Zoë Gilby & Andy Champion (1:30pm)

Alan Law Trio (2:40pm)

Mark Williams Trio (3:50pm)

Emma Fisk & James Birkett (5:00pm)

(Evening)

Alexander Bone (6:15pm)

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band (7:45pm).

Blues/Funk/Soul

King Snake - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9:00pm. Free.

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

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Great North Big Band Jazz Festival 2019 (Day 2) - Mar 2

(Review/photos by Russell)

Saturday dawned - blue sky, sunshine, no snow. Ah, a full day's competitive big band action to look forward to! The first person your correspondent saw upon entering the grounds of Park View Community Centre was Bill Watson (Festival Director, Great North Big Band Jazz Festival) heading off-site running an errand - the man's day is seemingly a busy one from first light! And there's Alexis Cairns, among the first of Dave Hignett's Tyne Valley Big Band crew to arrive. Yes, it was going to be a busy day.

How best to review an event such as this? Such-and-such a band from wherever won, the rest also-rans...or take it in something like the order events occurred? Tried and tested, stick with the latter. Shortly after eleven o'clock Saturday morning, the Open Section of this year's GNBBJF got underway, as usual, with Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra (MD Daniel Wilson) leading the way. 

Twenty or so minutes to impress the adjudicators - Messrs Mick Donnelly and Marcus Brown - NUJO got cracking. A couple of months ago, on hearing NUJO band members sitting in at a jam session, BSH Editor in Chief, Lance Liddle, suggested the band could be in with a chance of winning silverware at GNBBJF 2019 - we would see. Matt Green, alto, Tom McDonald, trombone, James Cuxson, guitar, they were there, playing their part in a varied set, from Over the Rainbow to Council Grove Groove

Durham University Big Band (MD Honor Hornsby) arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed (including Zach Fox, tenor, and Tom Burgess, guitar) to present a set commendable by way of contrast - Oliver Nelson's Step Right Up to Alfa Mist's Breathe featuring vocalist Evie Hill, Ms Hill recalling her DUBB predecessor Laura Paul interpreting J Dilla. 

The Tyne Valley jazz scene is thriving (Hexham Jazz Club at the Fox Inn, the Vault's regular promotions, Giles Strongs' promotional endeavours) and the vanguard - Tyne Valley Big Band (MD Dave Hignett) - turned up in great number. Approximately thirty musicians on stage, the band's approach one of inclusivity, Alexis Cairns led the way with several others standing in the soloist's spotlight. Apple Honey (a sure-fire rip-roarer) to Tito Puente's Oye Como Va to Gordon Goodwin's The Jazz Police, TVBB, as usual, had some fun. 

Wakefield Big Band (MD Andrew Shilton) made its debut at GNBBJF2019. The band's version of Sussudio succeeded, for the most part, in banishing any thoughts of its composer (P. Collins) and Bob Florence's bona fide jazz chart Carmelo's by the Freeway showed what the band could do. 

Some bands support the Chester le Street event year in, year out and one of them is the award-winning Durham Alumni Big Band (MD Shaune Eland). To describe the band as 'accomplished' doesn't tell half the story, DABB is an outfit boasting several stellar soloists and at least four of them stepped up to the plate; Jonny Dunn, trumpet, Alex Baker, tenor, Terry O'Hern, trombone and Steve McGarvie, alto. Dunn, in particular, shone on John Warren's Destination Unknown (arr Steve Waterman). This was impressive playing by Dunn, would the trumpeter and his colleagues be in the shake-up? One sage judge suggested DABB was the best yet, although there was a long way to go. 

The Wigan-based Infinity Jazz Orchestra (MD Chris Langford) made a welcome return to the arena. The band's programme promised to be an enjoyable experience - BirdlandMakin' WhoopeeAlexander's Ragtime Band and Gordon Goodwin's The Jazz Police - and so it proved. Ewan McNeil's bass trombone feature on Makin' Whoopee made fellow bass 'bone men and women of the Bass Trombone Union sit up and take note. 

West Yorkshire coach companies relish the first weekend in March. Leeds doesn't enter one big band, it invariably sends a battalion. This year three bands piled onto their away-day coaches and duly took to the Park View stage one after the other. First up, Leeds University Union Big Band (MDs Daniel Proctor and Matthew Robinson)Luton Hoo impressed, as did Mark Taylor's Brass Machine featuring Matthew Robinson's trumpet playing. Robinson has come a long way - from Durham County Youth Big Band to Durham Alumni Big Band to undergraduate studies in Leeds. Leeds College of Music Student Union Big Band (MD Callum Quinn) joined the party. Four ace numbers - Orange Colored SkyDoin' Basie's ThingMy Favorite Things (arr Paul Jennings) and Mingus' brilliant riposte to the clown who once held public office in Arkansas, Fables of Faubus - ensured the orchestra's set was well received. The third of the city of Leeds' bands - Leeds Jazz Orchestra (MD Colin Byrne) - presented an all-Mingus programme. Free-wheeling, at times seemingly chaotic, no doubt just as Mingus intended, this was an eminently listenable set. GunslingingDon't be Afraid, the Clown's Afraid Too and Jump Trump (Colin Byrne mischeviously retitling Jump Monk!), this piano-less outfit hit the spot. 

From across the Pennines, the Red Rose county responded with a further three entrants. The first of them could rightly be described as 'entertaining'. Manchester University Jazz Orchestra (MD Sam Walker) opted for a four-song, that's 'pop song", attack. Potentially cheesey, think Beats & Pieces and you'll get an idea of where these sneakered boys and girls were coming from. ABBA's Lay All Your Love on Me (arr Sam James and Sam Walker), the Jackson Five's classic I Want You Back (arr Sam Walker), Phil Collins-Philip Bailey's Easy Lover (arr Sam Walker) and the Weather Girls' It's Raining Men (arr Sam James) had 'em singing along if not boogie-ing in the aisles. Katie Emmanuel sang and the boys in the band chipped in with a few instrumental solos. 

LIPA Big Band (Danny Miller) made a return visit to Chester le Street beginning with an up-tempo take on MistyOver the Rainbow was heard for the second time during the day, Sonny's Place featured the two altos of Josh Phillips and Arthur Guisan and the band's closing number just had to be a number from the back catalogue of LIPA's lead patron Paul McCartney - She's Leaving Home. 

Last, but by no means least, the Managers Big Band (MD Ben Shepherd) took to the stage. Emphatic winners of the GNBBJF 2017 (last year's event fell victim to the Beast from the East) the Bolton-based band performed to a, by now, full house. All of the other bands wanted to witness what was about to unfold. In an earlier BSH preview, your correspondent suggested the band should be considered among the ante-post favourites. We were about to find out. Rhapsody in Blue and Channel One Suite formed the programme and from the first note we were listening to something special. Dynamic isn't the word, the Managers Big Band is as good as it gets. The five-strong reeds were top notch clarinetists - yes, all five of them playing together with the award-winning Emily Burkhardt the key soloist - alongside the brilliant tenor saxophonist Kyran Matthews. Drummer Alan Taylor is a mighty player and did Buddy Rich proud on the band's second, and closing, number. The Managers' ensemble precision is something to behold and the soloists are absolutely grade A calibre. Applause frequently rang out across the hall, much of it led by fellow competition band members - they knew they were listening to something special. The adjudicators retired to make their final deliberations. An expectant hall welcomed Mick Donnelly and Marcus Brown to the stage. The awards were announced by Bill Watson with Donnelly and Brown presenting the winners with their certificates (photos were taken to document the occasion).













OPEN SECTION

Best Band: The Managers Big Band

Best Soloist: Kyran Matthews (Managers Big Band)

Best Section: Saxophones, Leeds University Union Big Band

Best Programme: Durham Alumni Big Band

Adjudicators' Awards:

James Cuxson, guitar (Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra)

Matthew Good, drums (Wakefield Big Band)

Manchester University Jazz Orchestra - most entertaining programne

The day's events are, perhaps, best summed-up by big band aficionado Tony Eales who said: This was the best day of big band jazz I've ever heard and that includes numerous visits to major big band festivals in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  
Russell

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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