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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

House of the Black Gardenia @ Cumberland Arms, Ouseburn, Newcastle - June 14

(Review by Lance)

It wasn't everyone's idea of a summer's evening but at least it wasn't raining! And even if it had been it wouldn't have put a damper on things - I'm told there was a Plan B to cover all contingencies. Fortunately, it wasn't needed. The fans and their families relaxed with some choice ales as well as occasionally tripping the light fantastic. Their dogs were less energetic (see photo by Russell), This is par for the course at a Gardenia gig. The band has fun even if some of the songs are less than cheerful such as Graveyard Shift and Dead Man Calypso. This latter tune is about a woman who strangles her estranged man so they will eventually be together again!

Ellington's The Mooche got the show on the road with plenty of growling brass. Back in the 1930s, they called it jungle music and some of the vegetation surrounding the pub added to the effect. 

Charleston sang Baby Don't Tear My Clothes and the dancers did what dancers do. The familiar repertoire was rolled out but familiarity certainly didn't breed contempt - quite the opposite! Viper Mad; I Can't Take it No Longer; Don't Tell Liza 'bout me; Russian Caravan; One in a Million; Graveyard Shift; Ain't it Hard; Deadman Calypso; Blue Drag; Skirts and Big Big Man (The Donald Trump Song).

Bobbi has a great voice and is thimblepickin' good on washboard. As well as playing guitar and banjo, Littlefield sings the blues like he'd served his time on a chain gang in Memphis. Drummer Haigh also takes vocals and gives himself some guitar backing. A mighty talented bunch.

However, although vocals predominate, and I wouldn't have it any other way, the instrumentalists are also top dollar. Showtime never ceases to amaze me, Richard Burns seems to be number one dep on trumpet when Michael Lamb's away - or is it vice versa?
Marcus is the real deal on keys varying his style to suit the idiom. Robinson is another one who adapts well and Hopper excels on sousaphone and double bass - he must have a big car. Which just leaves Katja. The violin adds that extra texture when extra texture is needed and, in Katja's  hands, does the job.

It was a most enjoyable 60 plus minutes, however, for those hearing the band for the first time, if you think this was good wait till you hear them indoors at a venue where the sound is contained and doesn't waft away on the breeze!
Lance

Bobbi Charleston (vocals/washboard); Richard Burns (trumpet); David 'Showtime' Gray (trombone); Keith Robinson (soprano/alto/tenor saxes/ clarinet/flute); Katja Roberts (violin); Marcus Tham (keys); Michael Littlefield (guitar/banjo/vocals); Neil Hopper (bass/sousaphone); Kit Haigh (drums/vocals/guitar)

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