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Bebop Spoken There

Jeremy Pelt: "I'm so much into melodies and into sound, and the presence of sound, that I don't necessarily want to try to play in between the cracks of a note." - (DownBeat November 2020)

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".

Postage

12,000 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1140 of them this year alone and, so far, 87 this month (Oct. 27).

Coming soon ...

IT IS ADVISABLE TO CHECK IN ADVANCE WITH THE VENUE THAT THE GIG IS ON.

OCTOBER

THURSDAY 29

Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Abbie Finn Trio - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity (upstairs). It’s Abbie’s birthday!

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00-10:00pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

FRIDAY 30

Neil William & Ben Holland - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm-10:00pm. Free (donations). Limited capacity. Jazz standards from the 1920s & 30s.

SATURDAY 31

Alice Grace & Pawel Jedrzejewski - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:00pm-10:00pm. £10.00. Online booking (to book a table). Limited capacity. Alice & Pav join a multi-bill of entertainers (magician etc) to celebrate Prohibition Bar’s fifth anniversary. SOLD OUT!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Matt Mackellar Story - so far ... Part 1 of 3

BSH: Hi Matt. We trust you are well in these strange times. For obvious reasons it's been a while since you've gigged on the Tyneside jazz scene or anywhere else for that matter! Where were you in March when lockdown was applied? Where are you now and what are you up to?   

Matt: Hi guys, thanks for reaching out and thank you to everyone who has been in touch to check up on me and ask about my situation. When lockdown was announced I was still in the US after completing the first half of my 6th semester. On the 13th of March it was announced that after the Spring Break scheduled for the following week, school would not resume in person and a transfer would be made to an online remote learning program. We were unsure at first what the best plan of action would be, but when the border closure started to be announced we decided the best move would be for me to return home as soon as I could, which I did. I arrived back in the UK the day after lockdown began and finished my semester online in the first week of May. Since then I’ve continued to practice, record projects with my colleagues from college, and discover as much new music as I can while I have the time. As well as working on my musical ventures, I’ve been trying to keep fit and active as well as spending time with family while I’m here.

BSH: Let's go back a few years. Bebop Spoken Here first became aware of you at Dave Weisser's weekly 'jazz workshop' sessions at the Chillingham Arms in Newcastle. You were at school at the time. How did you find out about the session? Did someone suggest you should get along to the Chilli? 

Matt: Dave’s sessions at the Chillingham Arms were really the beginning of my love for playing Jazz. I had a growing interest for jazz after hearing an Art Blakey tribute band playing some of the Jazz Messengers repertoire. From then on, I became hooked on his music and slowly expanded my jazz repertoire from that point. I was initially introduced to Dave Weisser’s session through a good family friend Deon Krishnan, who was the house bassist that night. Deon has always been a great mentor for me, and his advice has been invaluable since I started playing drums. Slowly but surely, I gained confidence to get up and play. I’d never even tried to play jazz in the practice room during those early days so most of what I was doing was based on what I heard on Blakey’s albums as well as from watching Sid White, Steve Wall and of course house drummer Norman Redhead.

At that point in time, before I had a real repertoire of standards under my belt, I’d often get a lot of help from either Dave himself or a lot of the time from Ray Truscott. Ray gave me so much help and I owe a lot of that early confidence in his direction and help. I am so appreciative to have known Ray and owe him a lot for being a friend and mentor when I first started out. When I first went up, I was very nervous as I had so little experience. In my head, as long as I got to the end of the song, I’d be happy. Thanks to Barry Ascroft’s faithful pad, I was starting to become familiar with a lot of the standards that were played at Dave’s session. As my confidence grew in knowing the tunes, I was able to have a little more fun with them and focus a little more on improvising and interacting with the other musicians in the band during their solos. It became a lot of fun once I was past the initial anxiety of driving blind. I honestly owe so much to Dave and the guys at the Chillingham encouraging me. They were able to see my passion for the music and did so much to nurture it. Dave would often come to me with CD’s from his collection for me to listen to and learn from which were always on rotation in the car.

BSH: At around this time you started to sit-in at the old Jazz Cafe's jam sessions. A tune would be called, you gave a nod of the head - you didn't say much in those days! - indicating you could handle it. Were you as cool as you looked or was it a little scary? 

Matt: The Jazz Café jam sessions can seem a bit daunting because there as so many great players who sit in. But we are blessed to have a really supportive and appreciative jazz community in the North-East, looking to build the scene and encourage new players…so the jam sessions have always given me more encouragement than fear.

BSH: In no time at all you got the call to work in the house rhythm section. That must have been a confidence booster knowing that older, experienced musicians were prepared to give you the opportunity. How do you reflect on those times? 

Matt: It was definitely a great feeling! Knowing that the work I had been putting in at home and at the jams had paid off was a nice milestone when I was growing up. In a way, it sort of put a bit more pressure on me to perform as people expect the house band to set a standard to some degree. However, I felt comfortable in the presence of Paul Grainger, Pete Gilligan, John Pope and other jam session house band regulars as they’d made me feel so at home and comfortable over the years I had been attending.

BSH: And then there is Paul Edis and the Early Bird experience. How did you become involved? 

Matt: I initially met Paul through the Sage Jazz Attack sessions on a Saturday morning. Paul was incredibly nurturing to me during this time and helped me not only work on my improvisation but also my sight-reading skills. It was in Jazz Attack that I met some of the other Early Bird band members. Ben and Dan Lawrence, and Nick Caughey were all part of this great project to encourage young musicians who were interested in Jazz. Through Jazz Attack, Paul gave me the opportunity to play a few rehearsals with the Gala Big Band, which is where I first met Francis Tulip. Paul saw that we were all really interested in progressing our ensemble skills and had the idea of getting us all together in a group where he could push us with harder repertoire, and where we could encourage each other. The whole experience was such an important one for my development and I have so much to thank Paul for. He gave me a wealth of opportunities to try out different performance scenarios including with big and small bands, as well as giving me guidance on my development as a jazz musician offering direction to offshoot ensembles that developed from the Early Bird Band.

(To be continued tomorrow ...)

1 comment :

Alfiethedog said...

Matt is a great kid and a fantastic drummer.
He has a great future in front of him.

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