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Bebop Spoken There

Neil Hopper, House of the Black Gardenia: "We had the idea when we first started that we would be like Tuba Skinny or something, but that didn't really suit us." - (NARC November 2020)

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Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

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12,000 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1140 of them this year alone and, so far, 87 this month (Oct. 27).

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IT IS ADVISABLE TO CHECK IN ADVANCE WITH THE VENUE THAT THE GIG IS ON.

OCTOBER

FRIDAY 30

Neil William & Ben Holland - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm-10:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity. Jazz standards from the 1920s & 30s.

SATURDAY 31

Alice Grace & Pawel Jedrzejewski - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm-10:00pm. £10.00. Online booking (to book a table). Limited capacity. Alice & Pav join a multi-bill of entertainers (magician etc) to celebrate Prohibition Bar’s fifth anniversary. SOLD OUT!

Friday, February 14, 2020

CD Review: Pete Whittaker, Art Themen, George Double - Thane & The Villeins

Art Themen (tenor sax); Pete Whittaker (organ); George Double (drums).
(Review by James Henry)

Just once in a while one chances upon a new album that is just perfect, and love at first listen.  Thane & The Villeins is one of those rare gems.  Organ trios are unusual, and can be a tad heavy, especially if the mighty Hammond is given full rein.  Thankfully, Themen, Whittaker and Double give us a light and playful synergy in this collection of quirky tunes, to be released today (February 14).

Thane & The Villeins is a new project from Art Themen, and the album celebrates his 80th birthday. Themen has had a truly remarkable career, for many years combining work as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and playing saxophone with Stan Tracey, Alexis Korner and other British jazz luminaries. Now retired from his clinical duties, Themen is still going strong as a jazz musician, and there is still an energy and invention to his playing that makes it constantly exciting. Pete Whittaker gained experience in the 1990s playing in rock bands, including The Wonder Stuff, but has come back to jazz, and has mastered the Hammond organ, clearly influenced by the great Jimmy Smith.   Drummer George Double has worked with Dame Shirley Bassey, Marc Almond and Alan Barnes, to name but a few.

The album is a celebration of the tenor saxophone canon, with clear homage to Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Hank Mobley. A strong groove guides the collection of 10 tracks, set up beautifully by Double’s unwavering drumming, and Whittaker’s funky use of the Hammond bass. The band begin with Recado Bossa Nova by Djalma Ferreira.  Hanky Panky (Dexter Gordon) begins as a tight syncopated swing, morphing into a wild improvisation by Themen.  And What if I Don’t? (Herbie Hancock) gets a relaxed, bluesy groove. I’m An Old Cowhand (Mercer) gives George Double his first solo (and a chance to play the horse’s hooves). The pace only really relaxes for Willow Weep for Me (Ronell) and Themen and Whittaker both take sensitive solos. As a finale we get Sweet Emma (Nat Adderley), an ideal showcase for all that is good about the Hammond organ, where Whittaker rustles up a gospel-like fervor, aided and abetted by Themen, and the album romps on: only a slow fade can stop the ecstasy.

It is impossible to fault Thane & The Villeins.  Themen and Whittaker complement each other faultlessly, blending seamlessly at times, and Double keeps order with steady but imaginative drumming. Simon Paterson’s mixing and mastering are clear and well balanced, adding to the perfection.

So, we have a collection of funky, quirky tunes, a strong groove and a stunning debut album for this brand-new organ trio.  Jazz doesn’t get much better than this.  But why call the album “Thane & The Villeins”?   Well, buy the album and the sleeve note will reveal all.  
(Released February 14, Hadleigh Jazz Records)
James Henry

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