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Bebop Spoken There

Dick Katz: "Carmen [McRae] would say some pretty caustic things but, so what? There aren't any people who don't talk caustically to each other at some time unless they're Mother Teresa." - (Lesley Gourse: Carmen McRae Miss Jazz - Billboard Books 2001, 2020)


The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".


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).

Coming soon ...


Saturday 15: Anth Purdy - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm. Free (donations). Purdy’s solo ‘Swing Jazz Guitar’ show. Limited capacity.

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

Maine St. Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, 27 Sunniside Rd., Gateshead NE16 5NA. 8:30pm. Free.

Friday 21: Lindsay Hannon - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 9:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Malta Jazz Festival 2019 - Nights July 18

(Review by Steve T)

My love affair with Malta began when I read Tom Holland's Fortress Malta about its role in the Second World War. Shortly before the end of the war, Churchill arrived on Malta to award the island the George Cross. As someone who knows a thing or two about punching above my weight, even compared to Britain, Malta during the war was like Little Dave taking on a veritable army of Goliaths.

So it is with the Jazz Festival, which stepped up a whole bunch of gears on the Thursday night, with a series of free concerts.

The evening began in front of two cafés with the entrance to a food hall between them. After an early trip to check it out, we managed to book a prime spot in one of the cafés and by the time we returned, rows of seats had been laid out in front of the stage. On stage, happening German drummer Jochen Rueckert with an all-star band, featuring one of the big names in the current guitar renaissance; Mike Moreno no less. Also Chris Cheek, listed as tenor sax, but who actually played more soprano, and bass player Matt Penman.

Liam Gallagher was playing a free concert on the island that night, and when Rueckert thanked everybody for choosing him instead of Liam, I was surprised and a little perturbed at how few people laughed.

The prevalence of soprano was a total breath of fresh air and this was a sax/guitar front-line rather than guitar taking the role of piano in the rhythm section, Moreno threw in plenty of new-fangled New York chords and flight of finger soloing. Rueckert also plays with Lage Lund so he clearly knows his leading modern jazz guitarists. His own playing was busy but understated and highly effective, only taking one short solo during the final piece. 

I wondered if life could get any better than this just as the café delivered the wrong meal to our table!

Next up was Cuban bandleader Joel Hierrezuelo, just round the corner in front of the Law Courts. We'd heard a bit of the sound-check which had made me far more excited by it than hitherto. Malta seems to have an affinity with the heavy percussion of South American and Cuban music and I had no doubt that drummer Lukmil Perez would do the work of three wo/men.

Hierrezuelo sings and plays guitar, though the bulk of the soloing fell to a bandmate playing acoustic, and mighty impressively too.         

The final set of the evening was just down the road in the Pjazza Teatru Rjal, a large theatre visible from the location of the afternoon gigs, though you'd never realise it's there. The previous night it had featured the BBC Concert Orchestra.

I'm not sure how much of this we missed but it seemed quite short, which was probably enough for me. The Big Band were hot, but guest singer Joe Cutajar was subsequently described to me as a pub singer, which I thought unfair though, complete with trilby, it was a little corny. Nevertheless, classic Sinatra is always welcome and we got Fly me to the Moon and You Make me Feel so Young, some Nat King Cole while, in another stroke of luck, we missed the promised Michael Bublé. However, it was probably at its best with the singer watching from the sidelines. 

It all finished nicely in time to catch the last ferry across the harbour - one of the best natural harbours in the world and littered with history - to Sliema and our hotel.  
Steve T

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