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Bebop Spoken There

Tineke Postma: “ I had a huge crush on him [Sting] when I was a teenager ". Jazzwise, June 2024.

The Things They Say!

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

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite & Katz Communications) You’re the BEST!

Holly Cooper, Mouthpiece Music: "Lance writes pull quotes like no one else!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.

Postage

16476 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 356 of them this year alone and, so far, 68 this month (May 24).

From This Moment On ...

May

Sat 25: Tyne Valley Big Band @ Bywell Hall, Stocksfield. 2:30pm.
Sat 25: Baghdaddies @ Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Whitley Bay Carnival (outdoor stage).
Sat 25: Northern Monkey Brass Band @ Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay. 4:30pm. Whitley Bay Carnival (outdoor stage).
Sat 25: Paul Edis Trio w. Bruce Adams & Alan Barnes @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 6:30pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sat 25: Nubiyan Twist @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Sat 25: Papa G’s Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 26: Bellavana @ Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay. 11:00am. Whitley Bay Carnival (outdoor stage).
Sun 26: Tyne Valley Youth Big Band @ The Sele, Hexham. 12:30pm. Free. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sun 26: Musicians Unlimited @ Jackson’s Wharf, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 26: Alice Grace @ The Sele, Hexham. 1:30pm. Free. Alice Grace w. Joe Steels, Paul Susans & John Hirst.
Sun 26: Bryony Jarman-Pinto @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sun 26: Ruth Lambert Trio @ The Juke Shed, North Shields. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 26: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 26: Clark Tracey Quintet @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 6:00pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sun 26: Saltburn Big Band @ Saltburn Community Hall. 7:30pm.
Sun 26: Ruth Lambert Quartet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 26: SARÃB @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Mon 27: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 28: Bold Big Band @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Wed 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 29: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 29: Jazz Night @ The Tannery, Hexham. 7:00-9:00pm. Free. The first night of a new jam session!
Wed 29: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 30: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 30: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 30: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests Josh Bentham (sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Garry Hadfield (keys); Adrian Beadnell (bass);

Fri 31: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 31: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 31: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 31: Castillo Nuevo Trio @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30pm. Free.
Fri 31: Borealis @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 7:30pm.
Fri 31: Redwell @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Book Review: Jazz Journeys to Japan, The Heart Within by William Minor

I first came across Japanese Jazz - nowadays known as J Jazz - at the start of the eighties when it became something of a hype on the jazz-funk scene which was descending into smooth jazz.

I’d already become sceptical about jazz-funk as I began exploring Sonny Rollins, Coltrane, Miles and Bird, but others were paying big prices for records by Japanese musicians , generally backed by top Americans, which seemed entirely lightweight and disposable, but with undeniably high sound quality for the times.

The only record I remember is Hunt up Wind and the only artist names I remember are the musicians who made it: trombonist Hiroshi Fukumaru and featuring saxophonist Sadao Watanabe. Sadao is known by jazz listeners throughout the world as one of the legends of J Jazz, who’s been recording for almost sixty years, but Hiroshi doesn’t even get so much as a mention in the book. 

At the time I hated Hunt up Wind like the rest, but I’ve gradually come round to it and have thought for some time I should re-evaluate Japanese Jazz, but I knew I’d need help beyond my old jazz-funk friends. I’ve found two books on the subject in English and plumped for this one for no other reason than it was the best value at the time, though I intend to read the other after an appropriate period.

While I’m not altogether sure it works as a travelogue, the book traces several trips the author made to Japan to watch live jazz in clubs and festivals and to meet musicians and record executives. On his first trip he stopped off in Hawaii for a jazz festival; a tough gig but I guess somebody had to do it. 

One of the questions posed in the book is whether J Jazz swings like American jazz, whether it’s hip or has ‘soul’ or ‘feel’, and this is the subject of the other book Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan by E Taylor Atkins. Having listened to lots of J Jazz over recent months, my own view is that, given a blindfold test, I doubt most could tell the difference - I certainly couldn’t. Some of it’s good, some of it isn’t, just like American jazz.    

There is an issue that many of the musicians wear their American influences on their sleeves, and it sometimes seems to depend on no more than which American musicians toured the country.

Amorphism by Masahiko Satoh is very reminiscent of Chick Corea, in his solo work and the jazz-rock version of Return to Forever, and both his playing and composition. However, this is far less apparent on the live album Randooga, which includes some Japanese instrumentation and is far more explosive than is common in J Jazz.   

A fine saxophonist, Sadao Watanabe’s earliest recordings seem highly derivative but, from the late seventies onwards, it’s essentially smooth jazz of the most mundane order. I’m still searching for that mid-point in his trajectory.

I learned J Jazz has a history going right back to the origins of jazz and followed all its twists and turns, through Dixie, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, modal, free and fusion - though with an attempted ban during the war years - and fusion seems to have avoided the disdain it typically receives in this country.

Just like in the days of vinyls, CDs of Japanese Jazz can be extremely expensive, though nowadays it can be hundreds or thousands, I’ve managed to track down a lot, with more by Katsumi Watanabe (no relation), Sleepy Matsumato, Tiger Okoshi and others on their way from Japan via the disrupted postal service.

The following are both affordable and recommended:

J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz from Japan vols 1 and 2.
Spiritual Jazz vol 8: Japan.
Toshiko Akiyoshi (another legend) - Let Freedom Swing.
Terumasa Hino - Kimiko.
Koichi Matzukaze Trio - Earth Mother.
Miyasaka - Animals Garden.
Eijiro Nakagawa - Funk 55.
Junko Onishi Trio - Cruisin'. 
Makoto Ozone - Nature Boys.
Yosuke Yamashita New York Trio feat Ravi Coltrane - Canvas in Vigor. 
Steve T

William Minor: Jazz Journeys to Japan, The Heart Within. University of Michigan, 2004. ISBN: 9780472113453

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