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Bebop Spoken There

Val Wilmer: "The festival [New York Musicians Festival], an impressive exercise in African-American self-reliance, had come about after the promoter George Wein had moved his annual Newport Jazz Festival to New York the previous year [1972], and paid scant attention to the avant garde." - (Wire June 2020)

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Air4ce @ The Quakerhouse, Darlington - Jan 22

(Review by Russell)

BSH couldn't get along to Tuesday's performance in Newcastle making this Darlington gig all the more eagerly anticipated. The Cluny's stage isn't the biggest but in comparison to the Quakerhouse in Darlington it is of arena dimensions. The pub in Mechanics' Yard can accommodate a quartet, maybe a quintet, and that makes it something of a squeeze. As Air4ce took to the stage the main man, Tom Atkinson, suggested a round of applause was due for cramming nine musicians onto its postage stamp stage!

Atkinson's kit was of super group Cream dimensions - two huge bass drums and toms taking up a large part of the postage stamp. To his right stood percussionist Martin Bell, in front of Bell sat Nigel Stawart playing Hammond (XK-3c variety), to Atkinson's left, bassist Nick Lawrence and guitarist Stu Dawson. How many is that? One, two...yeah, five. Out front, the horns - Sue Ferris and Paul Gowland and the evening's vocalists Lindsay Hannon and Bob Davidson. One, two, three...yeah, nine in total. This being a tribute to the late Ginger Baker the likelihood was it would be loud. Loud? What's that? Yeah, it was loud alright. Excellent!

Imagined ghosts...Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce - they were loving this. From Aiko Biaye to Sweet Wine (Cream - Live Cream Vol.1) to That's the Way God Planned It bandleader Atkinson gave a commanding display, no, make that awesome. Stawart was Bond, Ferris then Gowland were Heckstall-Smith. Those who know Ferris' work blowing with Gerry Richardson's Big Idea or back in the day with Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra will be able to hear in their heads the paint-stripping solo. Similarly, sharing alto and tenor parts, Gowland blew up a storm. 

Lindsay Hannon and Bob Davidson shared the vocals and it would be difficult to think of anyone better to handle the material. Atkinson made a good call engaging their services. And, what's more, Lindsay, Bob and the rest seemed to genuinely enjoy the experience. And 'experience' it was, one of those 'I was there' occasions. The Quakerhouse was rammed, cameras flashed, the high volume exhilarating. Leading a nine piece band from behind a huge kit couldn't have been easy yet Tom Atkinson made it seem like a breeze. Totally in command, great chops, this was a masterclass in powerhouse rock (with moments of finesse!) drumming. 

Deep into the second set Stu Dawson, guitar, and Sue Ferris on flute featured on Early in the Morning. To round off a memorable night Air4ce went out all guns blazing - horns, Hammond, vox and the mightily impressive Atkinson on Tell Me a Story (Toad).
Russell

Tom Atkinson drums); Martin Bell (percussion); Nick Lawrence (bass guitar); Stu Dawson (guitar); Nigel Stawart (keyboards); Sue Ferris (tenor sax, alto sax, flute); Paul Gowland (tenor sax, alto sax); Lindsay Hannon (vocals); Bob Davidson (vocals) 

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