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Bebop Spoken There

Guy Barker: "You have to play it [the trumpet] every day or you just won't be match-fit." - (Jazz Rag, Winter 2019.)

Archive

Today Thursday December 12

Afternoon

Jazz

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 12:00pm. Free.

Note earlier time for this week only!

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Evening

Jazz

Hot Club du Nord - Lubetkin Theatre, East Durham College, Willerby Drive, Peterlee SR8 2RN. Tel: 0191 518 2000. 7:00pm. £10.00. (£5.00. under 18s). 'Jazz at the Lubetkin'.

Gala Big Band - Gala Theatre & Cinema, Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA. Tel: 03000 266 600. 7:30pm. £10.00. (£8.00. concs.). ‘Gala Big Band Does Christmas’.

Durham University Big Band - Dunelm House, New Elvet, Durham DH1 3AN. Tel: 0191 334 1777. Free. 7:30pm. ‘Jazzy Christmas’.

Indigo Jazz Voices - The Globe, Railway Street, Newcastle NE4 7AD. 7:30pm. £5.00. (£2.00. student).

Maine Street Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Hollywell Lane, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5NJ. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:30pm. Free.

Tees Hot Club w. Gus Smith (vocals); Dave Stansfield (tenor sax); Ted Pearce (keys) - Dorman’s Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 8:30pm. Free.

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm. £2.50.

Blues/Soul/Funk/Etc.

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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 28, 2019

Pepperland @ Newcastle Theatre Royal - April 27

(Review by Russell)

The Mark Morris Dance Group concluded its 2019 British tour with a two-nighter at Newcastle's historic Theatre Royal before stopping off in Dublin on the way home to New York. Three elements combined to make Pepperland an unmissable experience; Mark Morris' acclaimed dance company, the Fab Four's Sgt Pepper as subject matter, and, piquing Bebop Spoken Here's interest, an all-star, jazz-infused NYC octet. 

This Saturday evening performance, the second of two nights, attracted a near capacity house. It seems likely that the greater part of the audience comprised dance aficionados and Beatles' fanatics with a smattering of jazz fans drawn to the Grey Street venue by the participation of Ethan Iverson.  

The Bad Plus' former pianist is currently renewing acquaintance with the Mark Morris Dance Group working once again with the MMDG Music Ensemble led by Colin Fowler. The musicians assumed their positions in the orchestral pit minutes before curtain up. Percussionist (think 'jazz drummer') Vinne Sperrazza occupied the centre ground facing the stage, flanked to his left by Iverson, similarly facing the on-stage dancers, and to his right, with MD Fowler absent from the Newcastle dates, George Shevtsov seated at a keyboard. To one side was theremin specialist Rob Schwimmer. A founding member of the NY Theremin Society (!), Schwimmer's cv is truly impressive with the following but a random selection of his collaborations - Simon and Garfunkel, Wayne Shorter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Willie Nelson, Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, T-Bone Walker, Maria Schneider, Teo Macero, Kurt Vonnegut(!), Sammy Davis Jr. Clearly, when a concert performance or recording session requires a theremin, Mr S is considered 'first call'!  

As the curtain rose the octet went to work. The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band formed the centrepiece with additional original material composed by Iverson. The title track opened, and would later close, the performance. The Fab Four's oh-so-familiar tunes were arranged by Iverson - With a Little Help from My FriendsWhen I'n Sixty-FourWithin You Without YouPenny LaneA Day in the Life - which were interspersed by pieces variously titled AdagioAllegroScherzo

On stage, wow! The MMDG stepped right out of a '60s psychedelic haze. Elizabeth Kurtzman's costume designs certainly evoked the era; the brightest of bright colours with an acrylic-like sheen, so bright the dancers periodically wore shades (yeah, man), the sort associated with the Lennon and McCartney Eastern mystic/guru years. The Music Ensemble's baritone vocalist Clinton Curtis introduced the cast one by one; Shirley Temple...Sonny Liston...Karl-Heinz Stockhausen... Marlene Deitrich...Oscar Wilde...Fred Astaire...Albert Einstein...Laurel and Hardy. Those familiar with the Sgt. Pepper album cover art will be able to visualise the numerous famous faces.*

The on-stage movement was largely fast and furious, the dancers assuming the roles of enduringly recognisable figures. The cardboard cut-out quality of the characters enabled Mark Morris' dancers to be assigned a gender other than their own. Astaire, Einstein, whoever, could be, and were, assumed by a female dancer, it mattered not. The pit musicians hit their cues, Iverson directing matters. Jacob Garchik (trombone) and Brian Krock (soprano sax and clarinet) were positioned with their backs to the stage, reading their parts with Iverson in their line of vision. Iverson's spicey Wilbur Scoville proved to be a highlight. A blues, of gut-bucket variety, it featured brilliant trombone playing by Garchik, Iverson himself incorporating stride patterns with Oscar-like dexterity, all the while directing the ensemble.  

The Mark Morris Dance Group's 2017 premiere of Pepperland (marking the  album's fiftieth anniversary) proved so successful the company decided it should go on tour. Fortunately Newcastle Theatre Royal was part of the 2019 tour itinerary, it had been a memorable occasion.      

It was, perhaps, lost on the visiting American dance company that Albert Stubbins took pride of place alongside the many famous names featured on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. The legendary Magpies' footballer didn't get a name check at the Theatre Royal, if he did there could have been a cry of Toon! Toon! Black 'n' White Army!   
Russell

1 comment :

Lance said...

Ref Albert Stubbins. The late drummer, Randy Heads, told me of the time when he was in a Newcastle cinema and the news that Albert Stubbins had been transferred to Liverpool flashed across the screen mid-picture. The uproar that followed meant that they had to stop the film until the 'Toon Army' of the day, many of them actual army, calmed down!