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Bebop Spoken There

Anat Cohen: "With the tenor, it's so iconic with jazz. With the clarinet, I can improvise, but it doesn't have to be called jazz." - (DownBeat July 2019)

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Today Tuesday June 18

Afternoon

Jazz

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

Evening

Lickety Split - Fox Inn, West End Terrace, Hexham NE46 3DB.Tel: 01434 603681. 8:30pm. Free (donations).

River City Jazzmen - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NW. Tel: 01670 813983 (info). 8:00pm. £5.00. (inc raffle). Line-up inc special guest Don Fairley (trombone).

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

Sunday, June 09, 2019

DJazz: Saturday - June 8

(Review by Russell)

Newcastle, rain. Twelve minutes later (East Coast mainline train) Durham, rain. The organisers of this year's DJazz: The Durham City Jazz Festival implemented a simple plan to abandon its outdoor stage and move day two indoors. The recently completed Riverwalk complex offered the ideal solution with two vacant shop units functioning as pop-up alternatives, but first, a short walk up Saddler Street to keep an appointment at Durham Castle. 

The Norman chapel in Durham Castle is a simple, dimly lit, stone-built space. It would be difficult to make a dungeon less inviting! Cellist Maja Bugge sat in front of her congregation to perform a set of compositions/improvisations. The Norwegian musician prefers site-specific venues in which she can respond to and work with the acoustics. A set of some three-quarters of an hour engaged the crowded room - how many of them would later go in search of some jazz?

DJazz evolved from the immensely successful student-run jam sessions in the now disused Empty Shop venue on Framwellgate Bridge. The adjacent Riverwalk development with its shops, pubs and restaurant offered an alternative platform, one which Carlo, Nick, Heather and co embraced with typical enthusiasm. Fittingly the Durham student band Jazz Soctet opened the day's programme in the temporary DJazz Bar. The eight-piece outfit presented a challenging programme - jam session material it wasn't! - to which the full house gave its full attention. 

Just around the corner from DJazz Bar the Pop-Up was about to be shaken to its newly laid foundations. AKU! (pictured above) is a three-piece assembly from Scotland. Festival publicity listed influences as diverse as Sons of Kemet and Fela Kuti. If the 'hard-boiled' trio (that's how AKU! describe themselves) are yet to check out these guys - The Hub, trio VD and Taupe - they'd find fellow travellers. Punk-jazz, noise, skronk, from the off AKU! went for the jugular. Killing stuff, brilliant musicianship, at one point Harry Weir remarked he hoped it wasn't too loud. Pardon? Some used ear-plugs (wimps!), this was a glorious assault on the senses. We'll  be hearing more, literally and metaphorically, from Harry Weir (tenor sax, baritone sax, fx)Liam Shortall (trombone, fx) and Graham Costello (drums).

Local hero Matt MacKellar flew three thousand miles to play a gig at this year's DJazz and the Pop-Up was full for this closing set of the afternoon. Currently studying at Berklee, Boston, USA, Matt reunited with Ben Lawrence, keyboards (a Durham Uni student!), Andy Champion, bass and soul-jazz diva, Niffi Osiyemi, vocals. The Matt MacKellar Band's gig earlier in the year up the road in Newcastle proved to be a revelation and this Durham appearance offered further evidence of a cracking band thoroughly enjoying itself. Neo-soul, nu-soul, label it how you like, Matt is currently into all sorts and we got more of Robert Glasper, Moonchild etc. Friend and fellow student Francis Tulip, guitar (Birmingham Conservatoire) was in town and joined Matt on a couple of numbers. An excellent set.

Late afternoon the rain finally relented. Time to wander up to Redhills. Flass Street's student-occupied flat-shares  were sitting down to evening meals (of the liquid variety?) in, one wonders, not-so-blissful ignorance of what was about to occur at the top of the street. The Pitmen's Parliament opened its doors for a double bill - Noize Choir and DJazz 2019 headliners Moses Boyd's Exodus - which would surely attract a large crowd. 

Newcastle based Noize Choir isn't yer every day choral group. The name - 'Noize' - goes some way in describing what the ensemble does. Is that a bird? Ah, running water...a steam train. Bizarre, musically and visually, the only way to understand what Noize Choir can do is go hear them!

Redhills filled up in anticipation of the headline act, drummer Moses Boyd. Zara McFarlane, Binker and Moses, anyone who had heard Boyd at Sage Gateshead or elsewhere had a good idea what to expect...they weren't to be disappointed. Tenor sax, trombone, guitar and keyboards joined Boyd on stage to play a one set performance of approximately 75 minutes. Hip and happening yet conventional - solo, head, solo (some of them lengthy) - this was Art Blakey driving the band 21st century-style. 

Artie Zaitz, guitar, stung as only a Telecaster-toting axeman can and Boyd made full use of his talents. Tenor sax and trombone soloed, occasionally outstaying their welcome although, it should be said, the Pitmen's Parliament passed a motion overwhelmingly in favour of what they heard. Bone man (and ace arranger) Nathaniel Cross blew and blew and blew yet, it wasn't 'til the finale - Rye Lane Shuffle - that Exodus led us to the promised land. The blistering collective work made it all worthwhile. The delegates rose as one to acclaim Moses Boyd. 
Russell

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