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Bebop Spoken There

Davina Lozier: "So many people never settle into who they really are. They just do what they want to do because they want to be Oscar Peterson or Muddy Waters or Britney Spears. But I am what I am: a chubby, 40-year-old woman who's still doing it." - (DownBeat, December 2019).

Archive

Today Tuesday November 12

Afternoon

Jazz

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm - 3:00pm. Free.

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool - Tyneside Cinema, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle NE1 6QG. Tel: 0191 227 5500. 1:15pm. Stanley Nelson's 2019 documentary film.

Evening

Jazz

Not Now Charlie - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB.Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (donations).

Blues

Sugaray Rayford - Cluny, Lime St., Newcastle NE1 2PQ. Tel 0191 230 4474. 8:00pm. £15.00.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Miriam Ast and Victor Gutiérrez, Secret Songs European Tour @ Lit and Phil – March 15.

Miriam Ast (voice); Victor Gutiérrez (piano).
(Review/photos 
by Brian E)


German songstress Miriam Ast and Madrileño piano virtuoso Victor Gutiérrez certainly didn’t take the ‘A’ train for this leg of their Secret Songs European tour. Having previously taken in Prague, Mainz, Cologne and Leeds, the next stops are to be Hampstead in London, Freinsheim in the Rhineland, then Madrid and Palencia in Spain.  

After their train broke down between Retford and Doncaster, they eventually reached York just in time to catch an (also delayed) TransPennine Express to get to Central Station 10 minutes after their concert was due to start. Fortunately, Paul Edis was not just host but a first-rate stand-in and entertained the patient audience with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Surrey with a Fringe on Top and (yes) Billy Strayhorn’s famous Harlem number.

Enthusiastic applause greeted the duo’s hurried entry to the Loftus Room and, quickly composing themselves, Victor played a chord on the piano and Miriam took us straight into Cole Porter’s Night And Day. Very quickly the audience were treated not only to Miriam’s perfect pitch and pure voice, Victor’s piano enhancing the melody and pushing her on, but also to their first experience of Miriam’s flowing improvised vocalese.

This set the pattern for the rest of the shortened programme. Miriam’s self-composed Love Song followed. A sumptuous piano introduction, Miriam’s voice soft and melodious, singing first the yearning lyrics then extemporising dreamily into Victor’s long reflective solo. Next Spanish Song by Victor, opening with Miriam scatting the fast melody, quickly joined by Victor’s rolling piano. Victor’s compositions are full of melody and are a vehicle for voice and keyboard to improvise together and take the music where their collective inspiration leads them. Miriam seems to have unlimited imagination and range of both notes and sounds, using all the possibilities of voice-box, tongue, teeth, lips and mouth.

Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s Alone Together followed, both performers taking solos after the lyric, Miriam’s voice first floating mellifluously, then supporting Victor’s piano with percussive, implosive, clicking, cicada sounds. Monk’s ‘Round Midnight was the next vehicle for the duo’s exploration. Miriam’s articulation of the lyrics is perfect. I’ve heard them by so many singers, and they seemed just like lyrics to a fantastic tune, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever really felt the atmosphere, the regret and the hope behind them. Then again there’s Victor’s changing pace and rhythmic pulse enhancing and bring the best from Miriam’s flowing and mazy vocal runs.

Ast and Gutiérrez finished with Victor’s Don’t Get Too Cocky, another lyric-less composition for voice and piano. Victor explained the puzzle of the title as his response to the current self-harming UK political situation – dare I mention the B word! It starts with Miriam’s percussive improvisation over Victor strumming the piano strings with one hand and playing the bass chords with the other, but soon develops into another beautiful composition, giving both the chance to demonstrate the true symbiosis of their improvisational skills.

Time was up – the room had to be cleared for Music Exams – so we have to await another opportunity to hear more from this remarkable duo – next year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival?? Or perhaps we can tempt them back to the Gala Lunchtime Concerts in Durham before then.
Brian


PS: Secret Songs is due for a new pressing, the first pressing having sold out on the tour. It was reviewed last year on BSHLink.  

A lengthy interview with Miriam and Victor along with a CD review can be found on LondonJazzNews. 

Various songs can also be heard on YouTube.

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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.

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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