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Farewell Blues

R.I.P. HRH Queen Elizabeth ll (1926 - Sept. 8, 2022).
R.I.P. Trevor Tomkins (1941 - Sept. 9, 2022).
R.I.P. Gordon McGregor (Sept. 11, 2022).
R.I.P. Ramsey Lewis (1935 - Sept. 12, 2022).
R.I.P. Pharoah Sanders (Oct. 13, 1940 - Sept. 24, 2022).
R.I.P. Sue Mingus (April 2, 1930 - Sept. 24, 2022).

Bebop Spoken There

Larry Klein: "- in a certain way - Leonard [Cohen] is the greatest songwriter ever." - (Jazzwise October 2022)

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!"

Postage

14602 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 14 years ago. 880 of them this year alone and, so far, 80 this month (Sept. 26).

From This Moment On ...

September

Mon 26: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 26: Lewis Watson Quartet @ Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. Blaydon Jazz Club.

Tue 27: Beth Clarke @ British Legion Club, West Jesmond, Newcastle. 1:00-4:00pm. Free.
Tue 27: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Durham. 7:00pm. Free (to reserve a table phone 0191 386 5556).
Tue 27: Black is the Color of My Voice @ Alnwick Playhouse. 7:30pm. One woman stage play (the life & times of Nina Simone).

Wed 28: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 28: Battle of the Bands @ NE Volume Music Bar, Yarm Lane, Stockton. Doors 6:00pm. Tickets: £5.00. adv., £6.00. on the door. Participants inc. Milne Glendinning Band.
Wed 28: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 28: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 28: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Wed 28: Black is the Color of My Voice @ Alnwick Playhouse. 7:30pm. One woman stage play (the life & times of Nina Simone).
Wed 28: Laura Jurd @ Sage Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Thu 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 29: Ushaw Ensemble @ King’s Hall, Newcastle University. 1:10pm. Free.
Thu 29: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library. 3:00-5:00pm. £1.00. All welcome.
Thu 29: Czajka & Puchaz + Mark Solborg + Anthropology @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 7:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Thu 29: ‘58 Jazz Collective @ Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool. 7:30pm.
Thu 29: La Sonora Boreal’s Latin Jam Session @ The Globe, Newcastle (7:45pm). Free (donations). Latin jazz performance & jam session.
Thu 29: Peter Morgan Trio @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 30: Adam Johnson @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Fri 30: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 30: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 30: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 30: Pete Churchill & Noel Dennis: Exploring the Jazz Metaphor in Leadership & Management @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 2:30-4:00pm. Workshop.Tickets: £3.30 (inc. bf). A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Fri 30: FILM: Bird (Dir. Clint Eastwood) + Swing Bridge (in the bar) @ Forum Cinema, Hexham. 6:30pm.
Fri 30: Orphy Robinson + Maniscalco-Bigoni-Solborg + Nicole Mitchell + Binker Golding-Alexander Hawkins-John Pope-Paul Hession @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle (7:00pm). A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Fri 30: Ushaw Ensemble @ St Mary’s Church, Holy Island. 7:30pm.
Fri 30: Alter Ego @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Fri 30: King Bee @ The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, Independent, Sunderland. 9:00pm. £22.50. DJs + King Bee.

October

Sat 01: Dale Storr @ St Augustine’s Parish Centre, Darlington. 12:30pm. £10.00.
Sat 01: Nicole Mitchell & Alexander Hawkins @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Sat 01: Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Tutor: Pete Churchill. £25.00. Enrol at: www.jazz.coop.
Sat 01: Orphy Robinson (in conversation); Beck Hunters w John Pope & Laura Cole; Daniel Levin; Black Top w Mariam Rezaei @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 6:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Sat 01: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm.
Sat 01: King Bees @ Grainger Market, Newcastle. 9:00-9:45pm. A Great Market Caper multi-bill event. Superb Chicago blues band. Doors: 6:30pm. Tickets: £10.00. + bf.

Sun 02 RUTH LAMBERT TRIO @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 02: Helena Anahita Wilson @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Sun 02: Smokin’ Spitfires @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 12:45pm.
Sun 02: Zoë Gilby Trio w Noel Dennis + John Garner & John Pope + Dilutey Juice @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. £7.00.
Sun 02: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 02: Lindsay Hannon's 'Tom Waits for No Man' @ Three Tanners Bank, North Shields. 6:00pm. Free.
Sun 02: Celebrating the Life & Music of Pharoah Sanders @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. £8.00. on the door. Feat. Sue Ferris, Paul Gowland, Tom Atkinson, Jude Murphy, Jeff Armstrong.
Sun 02: Shifa + Bex Burch & Leafcutter John + Farida Amadou @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 7:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.

Mon 03: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

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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