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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Preview: Newcastle Jazz Festival - August 17


(Preview by Russell)
 Organise not one, not two, but six concerts in a day and you've got the makings of a festival. What's more, stage the event in a micro brewery and you're looking at a full house! The Newcastle Jazz Festival is set for Saturday August 17 at the Tyne Bank Brewery

A disused industrial building redeveloped as a micro brewery hosting regular events (gigs, pop-up street food markets, vinyl collectors' fairs and more) makes no. 375 Walker Road the ideal venue for a one day gathering of jazz musicians and jazz fans alike. If on the day there is a blazing sun in the sky (long odds!) the Tyne Bank Brewery will provide welcome relief, if it's tipping down (shorter odds!) you'll be snug as a bug with beer on tap in the brewery's tap house.

Two of Tyneside's finest musicians have the honour of opening the first Newcastle Jazz Festival in many a long year. At 1:30 Zoë Gilby and Andy Champion will perform their voice and bass duo set. Dazzling isn't the word - Zoë's vocal abilities are known to her many fans across the region and, increasingly, further afield, both home and abroad, with engagements at prestigious venues and festivals. Similarly, Andy enjoys 'first call' status not only on home turf but on the national stage. You'd be hard pressed to name a better bass player.

The Alan Law Trio at 2:40 offers a contrasting take on the jazz piano trio format. An accomplished pianist, the quietly spoken Law is a student of Latin, particularly Cuban, jazz. Our bandleader likes nothing better than to fool the listener into thinking he's one for ruminating when, in fact, sleight-of-hand, he's lit the blue touch paper on a firework (a seemingly innocuous firework, one chosen so that it doesn't frighten the horses). It's best to stand back because sooner or later there will be an explosive Latin fiesta to enjoy! 

Mark Williams is a master guitarist. The Mark Williams Trio is a vehicle for the leader's compositions alongside those of bassist Paul Susans and a selection of numbers by the likes of John Scofield and Steve Swallow. The laconic Irishman's prodigious technique enables him to fulfill the role of accompanist to GASbook singers to interpreting the charts of any of today's big name guitarist-composers. Joining Williams and Susans on stage at 3:50 will be ace drummer Russ Morgan

All festivals should have a banker bet. In other words, a copper-bottomed, gold-plated attraction, call it what you will. At five o'clock the world class duo of Emma Fisk and James Birkett will demonstrate that they are indisputably top drawer material. Their set evolved out of a love of the legendary recording sessions by Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. Virtuosity, taste, elan, Ms Fisk and Dr Birkett share these qualities in abundance. They're on stage at five o'clock, don't be late!

The 2014 winner of the inaugural BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition hails from County Durham. Bebop Spoken Here first came across the talented young musician busking outside Fenwick's on Northumberland Street in Newcastle. The alto saxophonist couldn't have been much more then ten years of age. It was obvious we had a seriously talented musician in our midst (dad stood to one side keeping a watchful eye). Fast forward two or three years to a jazz session at the Quakerhouse in Darlington. The very same alto player sat-in. Tremendous, truly tremendous. An education at Chetham's School of Music, followed by study at the Royal Academy, from which a few weeks ago our alto saxophonist graduated, is the story so far. Alexander Bone is the name and the young man, now in his early twenties, is the headline name at the Newcastle Jazz Festival. You cannot miss this one! 6:15, Tyne Bank Brewery, be there to witness the latest chapter in what is certain to be a stellar career in music. Bone will be working in the company of a handy trio - Messrs Dean Stockdale, piano, Mick Shoulder, double bass, and drummer Matt MacKellar. By way of a bonus, for those yet to hear drummer Matt who's currently on vacation from Berklee, Boston, USA, take it as read, he's on course to be the next superstar to emerge from the region's vibrant jazz scene. 

The Newcastle Jazz Festival concludes in what is sure to be celebratory fashion. There's no better way to close proceedings than with a rip-roaring set by the Strictly Smokin' Big BandMichael Lamb's superb outfit will hit the stage at 7:45. Stand by for a thrilling ride! At a recent rehearsal session the SSBB tore into St Louis Blues. If the band opens with this one at Tyne Bank you'd better hang on to your hat and/or seat otherwise you'll be knocked off your feet! Some bands rely on one or two hotshots to take the spotlight, not this band! Killer solos come from all sections of the band. Ensemble, section and solo work, all of it is truly impressive. Arrangements by MD Michael Lamb and others (some of them big time American and European arrangers) will stretch the band to its limits. There will be a few danceable numbers (Tyne Bank offers a large expanse of concrete flooring to do your thing) and, to top it off, the fabulous Alice Grace will be singing a few numbers with the band. The Strictly Smokin' Big Band is the best band around, get on down to Walker Road for what promises to be a memorable all day festival of jazz. 

Tyne Bank Brewery beers will be on tap, similarly, independent food vendors will be on site, there is ample parking and the Q3 bus from Newcastle city centre stops right outside the front entrance! Tickets are flying out the door. Book now to be sure of yours. £15 for the day, visit: www.newcastlejazzfestival.co.uk
 Russell

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