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Bebop Spoken There

John McDonough (reviewing Bright Red Dog’s In Vivo): “When you improvise on nothing, that’s what you get”. - DownBeat August 2021

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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.

Postage

13,508 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 926 of them this year alone and, so far, 90 this month (July 27).

From This Moment On

Wed 28: Ragtime Rewind Swing Band @ Assembly Rooms, 40 North Bailey, Durham DH1 3ET. 9:20pm. £8.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event (www.durhamfringe.co.uk).

Thu 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone North Tyneside. 1:00pm.

Thu 29: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Gateshead. 8:30pm.

Sat 31: Lindsay Hannon @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Lindsay previews new, original material.

Sat 31: jaktar + Johnny Richards @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 8:00pm. JNE promotion.

August

Sun 01: Vieux Carre Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.

Sun 01: Jeffrey Hewer Quartet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Leeds College of Music graduate guitarist (Masters, Jazz Performance & Composition).

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Album review: Allegra Levy Sings John McNeil – Lose My Number

Allegra Levy (vocal); Carmen Staaf (piano); Carmen Rothwell (bass); Colleen Clark (drums) + John McNeil (trumpet 3 tracks) Pierre Dorge (ukulele 1 track)

I hadn't heard of John McNeil before but I'm sure most other BSH readers have. He first hit the N Y jazz scene in the mid '70s, playing with the Horace Silver Quintet, Gerry Mulligan and others. This album features his tunes with lyrics by Allegra Levy. I approach original material with wariness as it sometimes takes a while to get used to new songs, but I needn't have worried.

 The music is boppish, I don't say bebop as I'm unsure how that is defined, and the lyrics are assertive, feminist, even stroppy in an amusing way. I expected the title track, which closes the album, would be a sad, lovelorn song. Not a bit of it! It means what it says, e.g. 'Lose my number, lose it, don't you dare call me up on the phone. This matches well with the lively music, short sharp phrases, great leaps, variation of tones, staccato rhythms, unsingable - except to a skilled vocalist such as Ms Levy. And an all-woman band (apart from a couple of guests including McNeil and a uke player) adds even more interest.

Allegra Levy graduated from the New England Conservatory in 2011, where trumpeter McNeil was her mentor. She went on to complete three highly acclaimed albums* and win first place in the Adult Contemporary category of the Great American Song Contest 2019. This is her fourth album.

Samba De Beach outlines the problems of the musician's life, made worse by corvid;  Livin' Small paints a picture of the simple life; then comes Tiffany, a drama in song about a man who longs to buy his wife expensive jewellery which he can't afford, expressed through dreamy bass playing and sparse piano tones.

Strictly Ballroom is just that, a woman rejecting a man on the dancefloor, with a steady dance 4/4 on the piano and an amusing trumpet and voice duet. Dover Beach is different, the lyrics have the Victorian poem of that name in mind, and also the words of Ms Levy's grandmother, 'Nothing's insurmountable', sung to a haunting tune. Ukulele Tune is in the style of 1920s' jazz. All rounded off  with the spirited Lose My Number.

The album is released live stream from Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn on Tuesday September 15 at 8pm EST. It is also available via Steeplechase. See www.allegralevy.com
 Ann Alex

Samba De Beach; Livin' Small; Tiffany; Strictly Ballroom; C.J.; Dover Beach; Ukulele Tune; Zephyr; Lose My Number.

* BSH editor Lance reviewed all 3 of Allegra Levy's previous albums and listed her 2018 album Looking at the Moon as one of his Albums of the Year.

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