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Bebop Spoken There

Art Hirahara: "Playing with people is the most important thing to me, and not playing with people is torture." - (DownBeat August, 2020)

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11,772 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 912 of them this year alone and, so far, 49 this month (August 13).

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August

Saturday 15: Anth Purdy - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm. Free (donations). Purdy’s solo ‘Swing Jazz Guitar’ show. Limited capacity.

Thursday 20: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Maine St. Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, 27 Sunniside Rd., Gateshead NE16 5NA. 8:30pm.

Friday 21: Lindsay Hannon - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 9:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Animal Society @ The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle - March 8

Joe Williamson (guitar); Alan Benzie, Craig McMahon (keys); Gus Stirrat (bass); Graham Costello (drums).
(Review by Thomas Dixon/ Photos courtesy of Ken Drew – a JNE promotion).

Firstly, I’d like to say I can’t stand the typical ‘politely distorted’ fusion guitar tone, but bandleader Joe Williamson’s guitar had plenty of grit to it. Actually, there was nothing polite about the performance at all, just the way I like it!


No doubt due to the mix of genres influencing this group, they have a very modern sound, and although they are still improvising and navigating through chord changes, the aesthetic is completely different to most bands you’ll find on a Jazz club’s programme. Often just when I thought I was locked in with the pattern of the rhythm section, there’d be some ‘Djent’ style fills which would disrupt the tune and help shape the solo sections in unpredictable ways. There was a definite ‘Math Rock’ vibe - lots of shifting time signatures, heavy riffs and filthy half-time breakdowns which, as a reformed metal head myself, I absolutely loved.

Williamson promised us ‘wonderful and unique sounds’ from Craig McMahon, and he definitely delivered. The addition of a second keyboard player fills out the sound of the group and glues it together with a polish that most bands can only achieve by double tracking in studio recordings or by using backing tracks on live performances.

There was a great energy in the room throughout the night, plenty of back and forth between the band and audience, and the last tune of the first set Hieroglyph featured a drum solo from Graham Costello that had the crowd all shouting and cheering, something of a rarity from ‘Jazz’ gigs these days.
Thomas Dixon
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