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Bebop Spoken There

Art Blakey: "You [Bobby Watson] don't want to play too long, because you don't know they're clapping because they're glad you finished!" - (JazzTimes, Nov. 2019)..

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".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite & Katz Communications) You’re the BEST!

Holly Cooper, Mouthpiece Music: "Lance writes pull quotes like no one else!"


15867 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 874 of them this year alone and, so far, 72 this month (Sept. 25).

From This Moment On ...


Wed 27: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 27: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 27: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 28: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 28: Alice Grace Quartet @ King's Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Free.
Thu 28: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm. All welcome.
Thu 28: Faye MacCalman + Snape/Sankey @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 28: Zoe Rahman @ Jesmond United Reformed Church, Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Thu 28: '58 Jazz Collective @ Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool. 7:30pm.
Thu 28: Speakeasy @ Queen's Hall, Hexham. 7:30pm. £15.00. A Southpaw Dance Company presentation. Dance, audio-visuals, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, swing dancers etc.
Thu 28: Mick Cantwell Band @ Harbour View, Sunderland. 8:00pm. Free. Ace blues band.
Thu 28: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 29: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 29: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 29: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.

Sat 30: John Pope Quintet + Late Girl + Shapeshifters @ Bobik's, Jesmond, Newcastle.
Sat 30: Papa G's Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.


Sun 01: Smokin' Spitfires @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 12:45pm.
Sun 01: Dulcie May Moreno sings Portrait of Sheila @ Central Bar, Gateshead. 2:00pm. £10.00. Moreno sings Sheila Jordan with Giles Strong, Mick Shoulder & John Bradford.
Sun 01: Middlesbrough Jazz & Blues Orchestra @ Saltburn Community Hall. 2:00pm.
Sun 01: The Easy Rollers @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. £13.70., £11.55.
Sun 01: Brand/Roberts/Champion/Sanders @ Blank Studios, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Sun 01: Papa G's Troves @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 02: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 02: FILM: Wattstax; 50th Anniversary @ Forum Cinema, Hexham. 8:00pm.

Tue 03: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.
Tue 03: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. House trio: Michael Young (piano); Paul Grainger (double bass); Paul Wight (drums).

Thursday, August 22, 2019

BBC Proms 45 – Mississippi Goddam: A homage to Nina Simone @ Royal Albert Hall - August 21

Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley; Lisa Fischer, Ledisi  (vocals); LaSharVu (backing vocals)
(Review by Leah Williams.)

A homage to Nina Simone – where do you even start? From young piano virtuoso to civil rights activist to ‘The High Priestess of Soul’, Nina Simone is a figure whose talent, raw life experience and unflinching determination has given her an appeal that crosses the boundaries of geography, race and time.

From the opening notes of the instrumental medley of African Mailman and Sinnerman, it was clear that Nina’s distinct style and infectious rhythms would be given their due. The Netherlands-based Metropole Orkest is a symphony orchestra with an integrated big band who play across the jazz, pop, world and film music genres. It’s immediately obvious that they are the right musicians for the job and, under the baton of Brit Jules Buckley, their mastery of and enthusiasm for the excellent arrangements of Simone’s songs was quite outstanding. From lush strings to unique rhythms to solo improvisations, every musician contributed to capturing the jaunty, sultry and severe edges of her music.

The orchestra were joined onstage by backing vocalists LeSharVu and soloists Lisa Fischer and Ledisi. They all played their part in bringing depth and authenticity to the music and were incredibly generous with their voices, spirits and emotions.

Although both have different vocal styles from Nina Simone’s somehow throwaway yet emotionally charged sound, Lisa and Ledisi were excellent choices as soloists. Lisa has an enchanting richness and maturity in her voice that lulls you into its embrace then surprises you with an unexpected vocal line or phrasing. Ledisi was quite clearly overjoyed to be there and this unbridled enthusiasm shone out and evoked a certain wildness and raw energy. Together they represented well the different facets of Simone’s character and sound, with their respective musical numbers well chosen.

Two ballads, Plain Gold Ring and Little Girl Blue (which was dedicated to Simone’s granddaughter who was apparently in the audience), followed the instrumental intro and were executed well. But it was with those immediately recognisable opening notes of My Baby Just Cares for Me that the concert really began to swing. And it didn’t let up for a single moment after that. If anything, the musicians seemed to take it up another notch after the interval. Pianist Hans Vroomans opened up the second half with a piano solo full of a personality, grace and virtuosity that seemed to bring Simone back to life.

One particularly haunting and emotive moment came in the form of an evocative, rich and desperate portrayal of Dambala by Lisa Fischer. The moment where the vocals became almost a cry of anguish as the full orchestra swept in will not be easily forgotten.

There was a good representation of music from across Simone’s career, but with the concert named ‘Mississippi Goddam’ there was of course an emphasis on the music she made as she grappled with injustice and inequality and became more and more engaged with the civil rights movement. Simone said that “an artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times” and this sold out Prom showed just how important she was as a voice of her time – but also one that still rings clear today. 

No moment showed this better than in that powerhouse title track of Mississippi Goddam, where Ledisi took some artistic liberty with the lyrics at the end to include a well-received dig at Donald Trump, followed up with:

“Let’s all give it up for Nina Simone right now. I think if she was here she’d be cussing everybody out saying ‘what’s wrong with y’all, when are you going to get it together?’”

Ledisi also finished up the programme, with a stripped-back a cappella version of a spiritual song Simone often sang leading straight into the powerful lyrics of Simone’s well-known version of I Wish I Knew How (It Would Feel to Be Free).

This would have been a strong enough ending on its own but, of course, the audience wanted more and there was one song everyone had been waiting to hear. What else but Feeling Good could have been the encore? Holding absolutely nothing back and leaving nothing behind, the orchestra and vocalists came together one final time to truly encapsulate and celebrate the legendary persona and music of Nina Simone.


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