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Bebop Spoken There

Art Hirahara: "Playing with people is the most important thing to me, and not playing with people is torture." - (DownBeat August, 2020)

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11,772 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 912 of them this year alone and, so far, 49 this month (August 13).

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August

Thursday 20: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Keswick Jazz & Blues Festival: Tommy Harkenrider Quartet - May 11

Tommy Harkenrider (guitar); Richard Exall (tenor sax); Sandy Suchodolski (double bass); Morgan Childs (drums)
(Review by Russell)

A couple (friends of BSH) from the Tyne-Tees Delta recommended catching Tommy Harkenrider's second concert performance at this year's Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival. The word was the jazz 'n' blues guitarist was the 'real deal'. On Thursday the man from Orange County, California had played a trio engagement with BSH favourite Bruce Rollo and Canadian drummer Morgan Childs. This Saturday evening performance would be in quartet format to include bootin' tenor sax. 
Slim, suited and booted, originally from Las Vegas, Tommy Harkenrider works out of Orange County and this UK appearance presented an opportunity to check him out. Working with the American on this Keswick date were Richard Exall on tenor sax , engaged, no doubt, to act as foil to the main man, Royal Academy graduate bassist Sandy Suchodolski (Alan Barnes, Scott Hamilton, Gareth Lockrane, BBC Big Band) and, all the way from Toronto,  drummer Morgan Childs.

Harkenrider's amiable stage patter was along the lines: Has anyone heard of...Tiny Grimes?...Pee Wee Crayton?...T-Bone Walker? and so on. Yes, this was our American visitor sussing out his audience. Some of those present knew the names, evidently quite a few didn't. And it appeared Harkenrider wasn't one for names, namely Richard Exall and Sandy Suchodolski! So, seemingly a scratch band put together for the occasion, Exall's job was to 'put the boot in' and he did just that. Little did Harkenrider know just how good the Brit was! Exall did everything required and more, Harkenrider was surely left thinking: Who is this guy?! 

Harkenrider cites George Barnes, Teddy Bunn and Les Paul as influences and he's worked the circuit with James Harman and Big Sandy. This Keswick gig revealed the American to be a Les Paul man by way of Bob Wills and all things Americana. To his left stood Sandy Suchodolski. BSH's regular north east of England stomping ground has its share of A-list bass players and, if you want an out-of-towner, the balding, bearded Suchodolski is your man. Think Andys Champion and Cleyndert or NHOP, Mr S is up there. 

Drummer Morgan Childs is active on the Toronto jazz scene with recordings out under his own name and here he was in Keswick playing a blues and boogie set. More Tiny Grimes (Frankie and Johnny Boogie), more Pee Wee then Harkenrider enquired: Has anyone heard of Freddie King? Yeah! replied some. The lights were getting low, it was almost time to go when our American guest chose to play something by his all-time hero - Texas Johnny Brown. Turning to his pick-up band Harkenrider said: A barn-burner, double shuffle. A collective nod of the head, they doggone burned it down!    
Russell

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