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Bebop Spoken There

Aubrey Logan: "I chose trombone because trombone just kicks my ass, and I needed to do something that was hard" - (DownBeat June 2019).

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2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The voting is open between now and May 31 to enable site visitors to nominate their choices in the various categories of this year's APPJAG awards which can be done here.
BSH was very proud to be nominated and to win the 2018 Media Award and hope we can have your support again this year.

Today Thursday May 23

Afternoon

Jazz

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

Evening

Jazz

Elina Duni + Trio FCT - Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 222 9882. 8:00pm. £10.00. & £8.00.

Tees Hot Club w. Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Donna Hewitt (alto 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 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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