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Bebop Spoken There

Jackie Paris: "A singer's got to be able to tell a story. Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole are best at that; Mel Tormé too. I like to take a lyric that means something and sing it right to the person it was meant for." - (DownBeat October 11, 1962).

Archive

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 Tuesday September 17

Afternoon

Jazz

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

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

Evening

Jazz

Acoustic Infusion with the Mighty Horns - Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington DL1 1SG. Tel: 01325 363135. 7:30pm (doors 7:00pm). £5.00. Rick Laughlin & co.

Strictly Smokin’ Sessions - Black Swan Bar, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 222 9882. 8:00pm. £8.00. & £6.00.

River City Jazzmen - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NW. Tel: 01670 819845. 8:00pm. £4.00. Guest: Don Armstrong (reeds). Note earlier start.

Blues

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

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Bill Laurance @ Sage Gateshead - April 6

(Review by Chris Kilsby)

A packed Sage 2 (including Level 2) for the fifth appearance at Sage Gateshead of the now well established "jazz maestro" pianist Bill Laurance.  This time solo, with one of Sage's Steinways augmented by various boxes of tricks to reproduce live the multi-effects on his new solo album Cables.  I had seen him twice before at the Sage, but with excellent bands, including colleagues from Snarky Puppy, the international jazz/funk collective phenomenon he co-founded.  I approached this gig with interest, to see if he could match the levels of composition and playing of those superb outings on his own. 

The first four numbers were on "clean" piano, starting with an old familiar favourite, December in New York, from his 2015 album, Swift. This gorgeous tune went down well, as ever, although I missed the deluxe rhythm section on the recording and previous outings.   A similar treatment of the second number, Chia, from Flint, 2014, and then onto the first new number, Ebb Tide.  Laurance's classically founded style in full flow here, with arpeggiated and repeated block chords, interspersed with long, meandering right hand runs and slides, varied and stretched to the maximum effect, wringing out the last drop of emotional highs and lows, much to the appreciation of the audience (and some of my party...)

Laurance is an assured performer nowadays, his easy rapport enhanced through lengthy, personal chats between songs. He addressed the issue of solo touring, saying how much he relished the simplicity and independence, and not waiting for the drummer to get out of bed for "lobby call". Now, I know some drummers, ironically, aren't good at being on time, but by now I was thinking a drummer (and bass player) of the calibre he is used to would be well worth waiting for!

The next number was one of only two mainly improvised pieces, based around House of the Rising Sun, perhaps an unspoken homage to our local Animals?  He then announced a change of mood, closing the first set with Kinsman, ramping up to the second "party set" by unleashing some of the synths, prepared sounds, loops and (lots of) reverb: moving away from Go Go Penguin and Einaudi territory, into Vangelis (!).
The second set opened with The Keeper introducing the drum machine, matching the "moral of this song, if there is one" which was "the significance of persistence". The idea was "try, try again", but I reckoned the tedium of the machine came through, and Laurance followed up, admitting he missed the chemistry of a drummer when faced with the "on-off" nature of the machine.  His introduction to the title track expounded the album concept as the "connected" nature of modern life and humanity, with the advent of AI and the machine. This was inspired by The Transcendent Man, a documentary film of Ray Kurzweil and his predictions of androids by 2029. 

The feel of the second set was rather more DJ than the album, including a session with vocoder before the final song, Cassini, inspired by the trajectory of the space mission to Saturn.  This held my attention well, with variety and structure, and a welcome dose of the melodic invention that catapulted him to fame.   Enthusiastic applause delivered a contrasting encore:  improvised clean piano for a change, showing real jazz chops around what my son's sensitive ears detected as the classic Caravan, but I guess the Michel Petrucciani version rather than that of Duke.

Overall, a well appreciated evening, but for me not reaching the heady heights of his previous ensemble efforts.  Too often, the playing fell back on the formulaic pseudo-classical, tending towards cheesy film-music at times, but obviously very popular with the paying public. The synth elements are more effective on the recorded work and detracted from Laurance's undoubted melodic inventiveness.   If the moral for this concert was to be "the significance of persistence", then please Bill, give the drummer (and the other fabulous musicians) another try!

Chris.

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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