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Bebop Spoken There

Lou Donaldson: "(On Art Blakey) Everything changed. Especially when the women came in, sat down in the front row, and raised their skirts above their knees. Then the drums got louder, the tempos got faster, and every tune was a drum solo" - (JazzTimes, November 2019.)

Archive

Today Saturday December 14

Afternoon

Jazz

Anth Purdy - Isabella Community Centre, Ogle Drive, Blyth NE24 5JF. Tel: 01670 543773. 11:00am-1:00pm. Free. Christmas Fair.

Jazz Attack - Sage Gateshead, St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR. Tel: 0191 443 4661. 3:30pm. Free (concourse). Young Musicians Live! YMP Winter Festival.

Jambone - Sage Gateshead, St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR. Tel: 0191 443 4661. 4:00pm. Free but ticketed (Sage Two). Young Musicians Live! YMP Winter Festival.

Evening

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band - Gosforth Civic Theatre, Regents Farm Road, Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 3HD. Tel: 0191 284 3700. 8:00pm. £12.00. + bf. Second night of two.

Sold Out!

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Blues/Funk/Soul

Loft Boys - Billy Bootleggers, Nelson St, Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9:00pm. Free.

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Jam Session @ The Black Swan - May 14.

(Review by/Photos by Lance).

Quite a night! A tenor saxist born in L.A., a drummer studying in Boston Mass, a Nigerian (?) vocalist, an invasion of Hartlepuddlians and some of Newcastle's finest, what could go wrong?
Answer - nothing!

The evening began in a sombre mood. The normally ebullient James Harrison taking us on an unaccompanied trip to St. James' Infirmary. Abbie Finn joined the mourners with some suitable funereal drumming before upping the tempo for the Battle Hymn of the Republic (John Brown's Body). John Brown interred, more staple jam session fare followed in the form of Yardbird Suite and St. Thomas with Abbie well-featured on the latter.

The first of the sitters-in, Mel Grundy, sang Beautiful Love and Paul Grainger related as to how the song was first heard in a Boris Karloff movie.

The trio played In a Mellow Tone with lots of quirky quotes from James before the first of the three tenors took to the stage. John Rowland, who sounds like Lockjaw Davis, blew Take the A Train and Straight No Chaser. Matt was now on drums and James managed to slot a chorus of Wardell's Twisted into his solo.

Niffi was next with a unique version of Mack the Knife and a more conventional (by Niffi's standards) Autumn Leaves. Tenor number two, Graham Easthope, kicked off The Chicken and was soon joined by Showtime on trombone. Milestones (I think) saw Matt MacKellar unleash a minor explosion, James was his usual jack-in-the-box self and the whole thing went out on a fun note. The audience loved it and I was sorry that Nathan (see an earlier post) wasn't present.

Interval time - take cover, the Hartlepool hit squad are advancing.

Russell had spoken glowingly of Jan Spencelayh after hearing her with Musicians Unlimited recently so I expected nothing but the best. Our tastes in vocalists don't always coincide but, on this occasion, I was in total agreement. At Last acknowledged Etta but in a more tasteful, more subtle way. No over the top histrionics. Likewise, on Moon Dance, she didn't try to emulate Van Morrison - how could she? - she's better looking!
However, Hartlepool wasn't done with - enter Bob Caswell. Some years ago Bob was a semi-regular visitor to Blaydon Jazz Club and I seem to recollect hearing him at the Cherry Tree and being impressed. Despite the passage of time, he is still the master showman as Don't Get Around Much Anymore proved. However, it was that much-maligned song Cry Me a River that brought the house down and the only time I've heard it sung by a male vocalist. It worked.

It seemed as though it was game, set and match Hartlepool - or so we thought! 

Enter tenor number three Jordan Alfonso. The Los Angeles born, resident on Tyneside saxist is normally heard on alto but this week tenor was his chosen axe and he reduced the room to pin-dropping silence with an emotive My One and Only Love (Liz of York should have been here). A cadenza-like sax intro led into as good an instrumental version as you're ever likely to hear. Stan Getzish at first then edging into Coltrane territory - beautiful and, for once, James restrained from inserting any quotes - that's how seriously good it was.

Showtime joined in for There Will Never be Another You with an out of tempo trombone/tenor free for all.

Mel and John Rowland did You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to and the other three horns augmented You Don't Know What Love is (written for an Abbott and Costello film). Caswell and all the horns did Cottontail/I Got Rhythm before the whole shebang came to a frenzied finale with Blue Monk.
Yup, quite a night!
Lance.
James Harrison (keys); Paul Grainger (bass); Abbie Finn (drums) + John Rowlands, Graham Easthope, Jordan Alfonso (tenor sax); David 'Showtime' Gray (trombone); Matt MacKellar (drums); Melanie Grundy, Niffi Osiyemi, Jan Spencelayh, Bob Caswell (vocals).

3 comments :

Ron said...

Great review of a great ' I was there' jam session. Great photos too!
Northeast is so privileged to have so many top jazz musicians and vocalists.
Wonderful night!

Patti said...

Yeah - it was indeed one of those extra special jamming sessions. It was fantastic to see our two top class young drummers in such brilliant form too - and the very best of jazzy good wishes to both Abbie and Matt in their future musical lives!

Jan S said...

What a thoroughly enjoyable night! This was my very first jazz jam session but will absolutely not be my last! I was blown away by the quality and talent of the musicians, core and contributing. I was feeling somewhat apprehensive about how an intruding unknown vocalist might be received but was soon reassured by the warm welcome of the 'resident' musicians and the friendliness of the crowd. I know Bob totally enjoyed his night too. Thank you for a great time - The Hartlepuddlians will definitely be back!