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Bebop Spoken There

Brian Dee: "I feel my generation had one advantage over today's players in that we were not musically educated in colleges, so we all sounded different. I could tell who it was just by the sound." - (Jazz Rag, Summer 2020).

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Vieux Carre Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. Tel: 0191 691 7090. 12 noon. Free.

Riviera Quartet - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8:00pm. A limited number of seats are available which MUST be bought in advance online. £7:50 or £5:45 live stream only.

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

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00pm - 10pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Heller-Glendinning: Billie Meets Kurt @ the Globe - June 20


Gabi Heller (vocals, percussion); Steve Glendinning (guitar)

This could well be my gig of the month, or maybe of the year, time will tell. It was partly exquisite singing, brilliant guitar, partly an interesting lecture with no boring bits, and partly a piece of theatre. Three gigs for the price of one.

The theatre came first with a slow melancholy Good Morning Heartache, sung and acted feelingly, then Gabi went on to explain something of Billie Holliday's life, (born to a teenage mother and growing up in unfavourable circumstances, unhappy in love, early death caused by addictions), but what music she gave us! I'm A Stranger Here Myself introduced us to Kurt Weill, refugee fleeing Germany who ended up in New York. And Gabi pondered aloud about whether they ever met, which they could have done, in the only mixed-race jazz club in NY - Cafe Society.


Lots of stuff to think about, besides songs such as Crazy He Calls Me; Here I Stay; Loverman (the social media song, Gabi commented); Tell me More and More and Then Some. This last song featured Gabi the percussionist, using a different item to keep rhythm in each line of the song, a bell, shakers, tappers, and goodness knows what else! The first half was rounded off with a medley called Hope, short songs about refugees on boats and fantasy peaceful ship journeys. And all the while, marvellous guitar accompaniment and solos from Steve, who just seems to get better and better! Little did we know what he was going to come up with in the second set!

We resumed with Travellin' Light and the first scatting of the night, including a skilled low scat during the guitar solo, clever stuff. Then came Weill's tune written to lyrics from socialist playwright Bertolt Brecht's Show me the Way to the Next Whisky Bar and the self-effacing lyrics of Don't Explain. A long guitar introduction for the next song, and what an intro! An echo feel on guitar and a tune straight from the plains of India, no less, beautiful bent notes, strange scales, odd rhythms! Steve must give us more of this, and soon. Then the ambivalent words of September Song, then Strange Fruit, arguably Billie's best song, with percussion from some small tubular chimes which Gabi struck with a mallet, very effective. And we ended with Gabi's favourite love song, Speak Low.
I could have listened to it all again from the beginning, and that's a good sign.
Ann Alex

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