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Bebop Spoken There

Alan Barnes: "Normally you can cobble a set together with five guys on the back of an envelope over the first pint and it's just fine. Livestreaming isn't like that." - (Jazzwise July 2021)

Archive quotes.

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.

Postage

13,381 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 799 of them this year alone and, so far, 73 this month (June 20).

From This Moment On

JUNE

Thu 24: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Gateshead (8:30pm).

Fri 25: Hot Club du Nord @ St Mary's Parish Hall, Barnard Castle. 7:00pm. Tickets: £15.00. + bf. A Barnard Castle Rotary Club event. POSTPONED!

Fri 25: Archipelago + Faith Brackenbury @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle (8:00pm). £10.00. & £8.00. Echoes to the Sky album launch. A GCT Jazz Club-Jazz North East co-promotion.

Fri 25 Alter Ego @ Traveller's Rest, Cockerton, Darlington (8:00pm). POSTPONED!

Sat 26: Tyne Valley Big Band @ The Sele, Hexham (3:45pm).

Sun 27: Vieux Carré Hot Four @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay (12 noon).

Sun 27: Noel Dennis Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle (8:00pm). £10.00. Advance booking essential: . A Jazz Co-op-Jazz North East co-promotion.

Tue 29: Dean Stockdale Trio @ The Lubetkin Theatre, East Durham College, Peterlee (1:00pm). Tickets £6.00. + bf from: www.ticketsource.co.uk

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Album review: Ben Wendel - High Heart

Ben Wendel (tenor sax); Michael Mayo (vocals); Shai Maestro, Gerald Clayton (piano, Fender Rhodes); Joe Sanders (double bass); Nate Wood (drums) 

A high octane fifth album for Ben Wendel, the Canadian tenor maestro based in New York, here with a sextet drawn from that city’s current elite. The album is a showcase not only for Wendel’s prodigious and muscular post-bop technique, but also for his compositions, executed brilliantly and sensitively by a band so much more than the sum of its stellar parts.

The eight substantial and original pieces are integrated in concept and execution, with the band often pairing up (sax vs vocals, piano vs Rhodes, and drums plus bass), but also locking together in clever and effective ways.  Wendel is noted for perhaps putting cerebral playing ahead of emotion and lyricism, and doesn’t miss the opportunity to play twice as many notes as Brecker or Redman would.  He has undoubtedly made space for the band here though, and for more emotions than just the trademark upbeat exhilaration.

This comes out most obviously with the spiritual, wordless vocals of Michael Mayo, soaring sublimely above busy arpeggios and skittering percussion, and trading with Wendel’s own plaintive sax voice.  

The opener, High Heart, sets out with Mayo’s measured hymnal over a hypnotic piano and drums backing, taken up by sax in the same vein, reaching a frenzied sax climax, before relaxing back to calm.  The standout Burning Bright does what its name suggests, with an angular Tigran-esque groove, followed up with flowing piano and sax lines. There is even some gorgeous Fender Rhodes for the 70s' throwbacks amongst us, wrapping up with a joyous anthemic proclamation to finish.   

Kindly takes it down in tempo, and hands a repeated distinctive voice-like phrase around the band to hypnotic effect. Less takes the heat down further, and into ambient territory with pure and aching voice soaring effortlessly over simple piano and effects.  

Drawn Away and Fearsome up the pace again, with swirling and cascading lines, insistent and interlocking, before Darling slows to a yearning and abstract sax reverie over slow piano arpeggios and busy, tapping rim shots and cymbal ricochets.  The album ends peacefully, with Mayo’s soothing balm laid down over circling piano, effects and clatter.  

On this evidence, Wendel has moved on from fiery technique and produced a deeply impressive and moving modern statement. You won’t find swinging, blue notes, or even modern classical here, but you will find an abundance of intelligent and intricate musicality, with a startling range of emotion unexpectedly thrown in.   

Chris K 

Release: October 30
: Personalised vinyl, CD, digital. 

Edition Music EDN1162 

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