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Bebop Spoken There

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11,740 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 880 of them this year alone and, so far, 17 this month (August 4).

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August

Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Alter Ego @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle - September 24

Keith Robinson (alto sax); Niall Armstrong (tenor sax, flute); Dave Hignett (trumpet, flugelhorn); Graham Don (keyboards); Tony Abell (bass); David Johnson (drums)
(Review by Russell)

On a rainy Tuesday evening Prohibition Bar opened its doors to host two events - a self-defense course and a gig. Decisions! Decisions! Your correspondent deftly skirted past Inspector Clouseau and Cato to take the stairs to the first floor performance venue to catch Alter Ego. 

It had been a while since BSH last heard Keith Robinson and co. In the interim a couple of new faces - Graham Don, piano and David Johnson, drums - had joined the core unit of Robinson, fellow reedsman Niall Armstrong, Tynedale's brassman Dave Hignett and bassist Tony Abell. 

The set list comprised familiar numbers and some new charts. Blues Marx for starters (Armstrong, tenor, Hignett, trumpet, Don, keys, taking the solos) followed by Red Blues (composed by erstwhile band pianist Andy Hawking) featuring Robinson's searing alto sax. A good, solid start. 

A tasty Bacon Sandwich smothered in Armstrong's flute relish took the form of a samba topped off by a driving drum solo by debut boy David Johnson. The region is a hotbed of young percussion talent, add the name of D Johnson to the roll call. Armstrong's Dog Leap Bounce is often in Alter Ego's set list and this Pink Lane engagement offered another opportunity to hear it - good stuff it was too, not least Dave Hignett's fleet-fingered solo.

Tony Abell's clever arrangement of Not Moanin' revealed its inspiration - no surprises for guessing the classic Blue Note number! JJ Johnson's In Walked Bud featured Armstrong's tenor sax supported by David Johnson's kicking bass drum accents. A fine first set drew to a close with a blistering take on Hank Mobley's Roll Call (Hignett, trumpet, Robinson, alto, Don, keyboards).

Opening the second set, bassist Tony Abell soloed on his own composition Deva, as did pianist Don, the Strictly Smokin' man arguably producing the solo of the night. Sometimes at a gig, announcements can be misheard...Quasimodo was actually Quasimodal (thanks to KR for the correction) with a fluent flugelhorn solo from TVBB MD Hignett. Similarly, one member of the audience heard Monster Mash when in fact it was Niall Armstrong's funky Mustard Mash!

Titles can be misheard, some titles are all but impossible to spell or pronounce - try Welshman Tony Abell's Llangranog Blues! No matter, it's a good tune. Band members' compositions invariably delight in amusing/confusing in equal measure, a couple of good examples being Word Association Football Blues and How Low the Sun, the latter adopting a similar chord progression to - have a guess...How High the Moon

Alter Ego is a fine band comprising seasoned performers and the new kid on the block, David Johnson. Catch them next month (Oct 24) at the Newcastle Jazz Co-op.    
Russell       

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