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Bebop Spoken There

Jackie Paris: "A singer's got to be able to tell a story. Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole are best at that; Mel Tormé too. I like to take a lyric that means something and sing it right to the person it was meant for." - (DownBeat October 11, 1962).

Archive

Daily: July 6 - October 27

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden - Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA. Tel: 0191 478 1810. Screenings at intervals during the day. Part of Akomfrah's exhibition Ballasts of Memory. Exhibition (daily) July 6 - October 27. 10:00am-6:00pm. Free.

Today Tuesday September 17

Afternoon

Jazz

Precarity John Akomfrah’s film (2017, 46 mins) about Buddy Bolden (see above).

Classic Swing - The Ship Inn, Front Street, Monkseaton NE25 8DP. 0191 251 3677. 1:00pm - 3:00pm. Free.

Evening

Jazz

Acoustic Infusion with the Mighty Horns - Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington DL1 1SG. Tel: 01325 363135. 7:30pm (doors 7:00pm). £5.00. Rick Laughlin & co.

Strictly Smokin’ Sessions - Black Swan Bar, Newcastle Arts Centre, Westgate Road, Newcastle NE1 1SG. Tel: 0191 222 9882. 8:00pm. £8.00. & £6.00.

River City Jazzmen - Block & Tackle, Blackthorn Way, Ashington NE63 8NW. Tel: 01670 819845. 8:00pm. £4.00. Guest: Don Armstrong (reeds). Note earlier start.

Blues

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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Ambleside Days Festival Tommy Smith – Embodying the Light Quartet - and Gwilym Simcock @ Zeffirellis - August 30

Tommy Smith (tenor sax); Pete Johnstone (piano); Calum Gourlay (bass); Sebastiaan De Krom (drums)
(Review by Hugh C)

Stuart Johnson (Zeffirellis event programmer and also of this parish) introduced this set with the observation that, over the years, “he had heard many try to pay tribute to John Coltrane, but that he’d never heard anyone do it as well as these guys”.  No pressure then!

The quartet went straight into the music, all purely acoustic, including double bass.  They commenced the set with Persuance.  The delivery set a pattern that was repeated over the evening.  Extended piano or bass solos, with subtle drumming by de Krom in support, the leader retiring to the edge of the stage, resting one hand on the curve of the Steinway and gently grooving, greying hair glinting in the spotlight.  At the most imperceptible of nods from the soloist, Smith would return centre stage with his horn.  After some twenty minutes of high octane music the heightened atmosphere was brought down by the slower, more tender, melody of Dear Lord.  Smith then observed that the items played he had first played in Zeffirellis in 1988 with John Taylor and then, several times since. He said that he had always been well looked after.
Embodying the Light (the title of their recent CD release) raised the tempo again.  The full tilt delivery followed the formula, this time Smith was crouched at the edge of the stage during a piano solo – when offered a piano stool to sit on, he carefully placed his horn on it and stood up. 

Naima returned the house to a more contemplative state.  A Tommy Smith composition, Transformation followed.  This, based on Coltrane’s Impressions, itself based on Miles Davis’ So What, contained influences from Claude Debussy and Morton Gould.  The piece commenced with a few “little Scottish things – to make us [the band] feel at home”.  Pete Johnstone delivered one of many stunning piano solos during this piece, using his whole upper body in delivery and with just discernible vocalisation in the absence of any amplification.  Sebastiaan De Krom was let off the leash for an energetic solo also. 

The contemplative atmosphere was restored by The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost: melodic saxophone over rippling piano and subtle bass joined after a time by cymbals played with padded sticks.  This was the final item (officially).  Tommy Smith enquired if there was a curfew – to which the answer from Derek Hook at the side of the auditorium, was NO!  We were treated to an encore, Summertime, Coltrane style.  Great ensemble playing with short solos and a slow fade in the final bars.

Well, Mr Johnson was right, this was an exemplary performance by the quartet, despite Tommy Smith coming in from his holidays for the gig and not having played his horn for some thirty days (and nights in the wilderness?). 
 ----- 
Gwilym Simcock – Solo Piano Gwilym Simcock – Solo Piano
The first half of a split gig on the evening of the second day of the 2019 Festival.  The main cinema in Zeffirellis had been turned into a concert venue for the duration.  The Steinway grand piano, placed on the right side of the stage for this event; drums and other paraphernalia for the second half already in the wings.  The hall was full.

Gwilym Simcock played his own compositions with repertoire predominantly from his recent solo release, Near and Now, self-recorded in his Berlin apartment.  Beautiful is Our Moment (dedicated to Billy Childs) commenced with atmospheric chords imparting the character of the French impressionists, building to expressive harmonies reminiscent of folk melodies. 

There then followed an exploration of the more percussive qualities of  the instrument, the piece ending after some 20 minutes with rippling chords in the lower register, gradually falling away.  You’re My You (dedicated to Les Chisnall - Simcock’s former piano teacher - who was in the audience) was a short item with gentle melodic progression and subtle key changes.  

Northern Smile, from Simcock’s solo recording Good Days At Schloss Elmau, was an upbeat, jaunty item (on this occasion) in celebration of the northern audience and incorporated distinct Jarrett-style exclamatory vocalisations.  Before the Elegant Hour (dedicated to Brad Mehldau) delivered with high energy percussive piano interspersed with more melodic sections.  According to Simcock, in this piece he was trying to catch the brooding quality of Mehldau’s music.  The final piece, Many Worlds Away, was dedicated to Egberto Gismonti – the atmospheric sense of Gismonti’s music had an early influence on Gwilym Simcock and he was something of a hero. 

After just over one hour it was time for the interval and replenishment of the reviewer’s glass with Keswick Brewing Company’s Jazz Session ale – actually originally brewed for the Keswick Jazz and Blues Festival, but very fine all the same.
Hugh C

3 comments :

Steve T said...

How did I miss this? Again!!!!

Lance said...

Our listings (not our reviews which are world-wide) tend to stop this side of Kirkstone Pass. I'll try and remember to make an exception next year.

Hugh said...

Steve - Sack your diary assistant?

Lance - Good idea. From discussions at the 2017 event, next year's may be the last. I have no new information on this, so we'll see what pans out.

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About this blog - contact details.

Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Submissions for review

Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to all of them other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.
Lance