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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, April 09, 2019

CD Review: Benjamin Croft – Ten Reasons To…

Benjamin Croft (piano, keyboards); Benet McLean ( violin); Andy Davies (trumpet, flugelhorn); Henry Thomas/Mario Castronari (bass); Tristan Mailliot/Saleem Raman (drums); Peter Miles ( voice)
(Review by Hugh C).

At age 7, Benjamin Croft began piano and trumpet lessons, later going on to study at Leeds College of Music.  His career has been eclectic since graduating, first playing on cruise liners and then moving to the US and touring the world as a session musician with several big-name acts.  He relocated to London in 2012, becoming a regular performer at London jazz venues.

10 Reasons To… is his first solo album of 12 original compositions and is a melange of styles and influences from his childhood onwards.  The CD artwork, by Andrew Skilleter, has a very ‘70s prog rock album feel, reproduced in the sonic landscape on the CD, which features a mixture of keyboard instruments including Steinway, Mini-Moog, Prophet 5 and Mellotron. 

100 Years at Sea Introduction opens the performance with an Edgar Allan Poe verse, The City in the Sea, voiced by the late Peter Miles (of classic Dr Who fame).  100 Years at Sea follows rapidly on, an upbeat slightly funky number with McLean’s violin to the fore.  One Million Years At Sea will take those of a certain age (and younger prog rock cognoscenti) straight back to the seventies with its synth sound. 

Bad Reputations continues the general feel, but with violin overlay – giving a distinct fusion, jazz-rock groove.  T.T.E (Time, Talent and Electricity) is the first of four tracks specifically dedicated to Croft’s keyboard heroes, in this case, Keith Emmerson, and with more of a jazz feel on Steinway piano, floating flugelhorn from Davies and prominent acoustic bass input from Castronari.  The Sycophant reintroduces the jazz-rock feel with a strong bass groove from Thomas on a Westone Thunder III over Mailliot’s rock drumming.

The Whispering Knight reintroduces the jazz feel with Davies on trumpet this time and Croft on Rhodes. No Oil For Sale (for Gustav Mahler) continues in the jazz vein, but with quasi-orchestral synth sequences.  The Legend of Bray (for Christopher Lee) features Thomas on acoustic fretless bass, this is probably the closest of all the tracks to a ballad with sweeping overlay by violin. 

Inside Immortality, at 1.29, is (ironically) the shortest track on the album but at least does lead swiftly into See You in Another Lifetime, a bass-heavy track with jazz-rock overtones (stadium jazz, rather than chamber jazz).  For Future Past (for Allan Holdsworth) closes the show with another vocal contribution by Peter Miles.  There is no stadium roar – this is very much a studio album: the band recorded at Livingstone Studios, London; the synths were recorded at Greystoke Studio and mixing was at The Nave Studios, Leeds.

Overall, this is an interesting album with a mixture of styles, including jazz.  Is this a jazz album?  Well – according to the constabulary, probably not, but it certainly features many styles of music that have been played under the jazz umbrella over the years.  Is it worth checking out – with an open mind about what might constitutes jazz? Yes.  The musicianship is superb from all quarters. The overall sound quality and flow are excellent, just don’t let the rozzers catch you listening!
Hugh C.
10 Reasons To… is available now.  Catalogue:  33 JAZZ275. 

PS: Those concerned with saving endangered species will be pleased to know that “No melodicas were used in the recording of this album”!

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