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Bebop Spoken There

Raymond Chandler: “ I was walking the floor and listening to Khatchaturian working in a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I called it a loose fan belt and the hell with it ". The Long Goodbye, Penguin 1959.

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!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.

Postage

16350 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 230 of them this year alone and, so far, 27 this month (April 11).

From This Moment On ...

April

Fri 12: Pete Tanton’s Chet Set @ The Old Library, Auckland Castle. 1:00pm. £8.00.
Fri 12: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 12: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 12: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 12: Katrina Miller Trio @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sat 13: Giles Strong Quartet @ Claypath Deli, Durham. 7:00-9:00pm. £10.00.
Sat 13: Phantom Bagman + Forgetmenots @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:30pm.£5.00. + bf. Upstairs.
Sat 13: Rockin’ Turner Brothers @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Downstairs.

Sun 14: Am Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sun 14: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 14: Alan Law, Jude Murphy & Tim Johnston @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 14: JazzMain @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 15: Dave Newton @ Yamaha Music School, Seaforth St., Blyth NE24 1AY. 1:00 - 1:45pm. £8.00. + bf. Newton, solo piano.
Mon 15: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 15: Hideout @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. 7:00pm. £7.50 + £1.33 bf. Feat. Sleep Suppressor + Flat Moon.
Mon 15: Russ Morgan Quartet @ The Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. £8.00.

Tue 16: The Horne Section’s Hit Show @ Middlesbrough Town Hall. 7:30pm.
Tue 16: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Bradley Johnston, Paul Grainger, Bailey Rudd.

Wed 17: Bailey Rudd (Minor Recital) @ The Music Studios, Haymarket Lane, Newcastle University. 11:40am. Bailey Rudd (drums). Open to the public.
Wed 17: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 17: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 17: The Horne Section’s Hit Show @ The Gala, Durham. 7:30pm. SOLD OUT!
Wed 17: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 18: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 18: NONUNONU @ Elder Beer Café, Chillingham Road, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Thu 18: Knats @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. 8:00pm (doors 7:30pm). £8.00. + bf. Support act TBC.
Thu 18: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Ragtime piano.
Thu 18: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guest band night with Just Friends: Ian Bosworth (guitar); Donna Hewitt (sax); Dave Archbold (keys); Ron Smith (bass); Mark Hawkins (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.

Leah

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