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Bebop Spoken There

Veronica Swift: "I don't want to call myself a jazz singer anymore. I'm a singer and a storyteller.'" - (JazzTimes, December 2021)

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! --

Postage

13837 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 56 of them this year alone and, so far, 56 this month (Jan. 16).

From This Moment On ...

January 2022

Wed 19: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 19: Classic Swing @ Venue, Cramlington NE23 6UT. 1:00pm.
Wed 19: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 19: Four @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 19: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 20: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Gateshead. 8:30pm.
Thu 20: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 21: Emma Fisk & James Birkett @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. POSTPONED!
Fri 21: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 21: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm.
Fri 21: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 21: John Law @ Durham Cathedral. 7:30pm. £20.00. POSTPONED!
Fri 21: Dean Stockdale Quartet @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. £8.00. Opus 4 Jazz Club.
Fri 21: Jude Murphy & Dan Stanley @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Sat 22: East Coast Swing Band @ East Bedlington Community Centre. 7:30pm. £5.00.
Sat 22: MGB @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. The Milne-Glendinning Band.

Sun 23 Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 23: Musicians Unlimited @ South Durham Social Club, Hartlepool. 1:00pm.
Sun 23: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 23: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm.
Sun 23: Anth Purdy: Swing Jazz Guitar @ Blues & Bourbon, Newcastle. 3:00pm.
Sun 23: Svarc Hanley Longhawn @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £10.00 adv., £12.00. door.

Mon 24: Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 24: Vels Trio @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Tue 25: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. House trio: Murray Wankling, Paul Grainger, King David Ike-Elechi.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Album review: Tigran Hamasyan - The Call Within

Tigran Hamasyan (piano/keys/vocal); Evan Marien (bass); Arthur Hnatek (drums) 

The eagerly awaited fourth album on Nonesuch records from the 33-year old Armenian piano messiah Tigran, appearing here with a trio as for Mockroot  (2015), rather than solo as for his other Nonesuch albums For Gyumri (2018) and An Ancient Observer (2017), and on his date at Sage Two last year    

Tigran’s music is as genre-defying as you could ask for, and while he has a distinct voice and is instantly recognisable, many readers here will instantly recognise it as “other” than their familiar blues/bebop jazz tradition – indeed Tigran himself refers to it as “electro-acoustic Armenian rock”!  However, mainstream jazz luminaries are falling over themselves to laud his genius and fearless forging of his won distinct path. When Herbie Hancock says, “Now, Tigran, you are my teacher” that’s good enough for me to give him a serious listen 

Tigran evokes fanatical responses from a highly knowledgeable following, which is not unique in jazz circles but seems now to be at an apex of technical expertise and understanding, as well as level of devotion.

An example is the video of Arthur Hnatek playing the drum part at the recording of the track New Maps released on YouTube (ase date) which received 11,000 views (in a month).  Transcriptions of the piano, bass and drum parts were posted on YouTube within days, and with similarly high views. Transcriptions are time consuming at the best of times, but for music of this complexity, and with note by note video reveal, these are works of art stemming from dedication beyond any human reason.  For what it’s worth, the piece is analysed as either alternating bars of 9/8 and 11/8, or as 20/16. The in-house drummer tells me to think of it as “almost like 4/4 but with every 'crotchet' made up of 5 beats rather than 4 semi quavers”.  

While Tigran’s complex rhythmic patterns and unfamiliar time signatures, with their origin in Armenian folk and dance music with a splash of prog-metal, provoke glee and fascination with young “Time Lords”, there is, thankfully, far more to his music than mind-bending technical virtuosity and precision.  Tigran seems to operate on a spiritual plane transcending the usual physical limits of instruments (think Mahavishnu or late Coltrane) - in his words “where the moment of the unconscious creation is the way to feel conscious”.

His inspirations are drawn widely here from maps poetry, Christian and pre-Christian Armenian folk stories and legends, and beyond! 

This is all very well – but what do the ten new compositions here sound like?   There is a sustained intensity and emotion well beyond even Tigran’s norm, so this is no casual, dinner party jazz album.  Once any attempt to count through the bars is abandoned, the pulse of the music drives and surges in an engaging (although never, to me, truly comfortable) groove, e.g. the opener 21 Levitation drives along in rhythmic groups of 21 (!) The repetitive intensity and rhythmic programmed precision of dissonant chords is darkbut never angry, as much modern “prog” and “metal” sounds to my earsUnderneath the harsh trappings, there beats the heart of piano trio, and ethereal melodies transcend the Sturm und Drangoften achieving peacefuleven joyous, catharsis after the turmoil.  

For every section of high tempo repetitive grooving set up by block chord piano, with doubling on bass, there are relaxed interludes of lyrical piano and synth on Space of Your Existenceand even whistling on Our Filmaugmented by vocals and cello 

The Dream Voyager and Old Maps evoke more of Tigran’s alter egoless frenetic and with sustained legato allowing the haunting melodies to break through.   The high energy returns for a prog-metal track, Vortex, driven harder by guest Tosin Abasi on 8 string electric guitar.  

37 Newlyweds is the most relaxed track, with eastern chanting intoning ominously over chiming piano chords.  

New Maps closes out the album in some style, and even has an art house video to match. After a while the fluctuating and cyclical beat is hypnotically relaxing  - sit back and say goodbye to 4:4! 

Overall a stunning new statement by Tigran and his remarkable band, who give as good as they get,  further charting hiunique path - not entirely removed from the mainstream tradition but sitting across other folk, classical and rock in spiritual and technical communion. Not for the fainthearted or those wedded to the familiar perhaps, but as an initial sceptic, I’d recommend investing in some  listening, as the rewards are deep and intense.  
Chris K 

Release date August 28. Preview and pre-order

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