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Bebop Spoken There

Jim Keltner: “I was snatched right out of the jazz world. I shouldn't say snatched, I went willingly, I ran. From $85 a week to $250 a week, that gets your attention." - (JazzTimes, September 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

13,715 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 1132 of them this year alone and, so far, 76 this month (Sept. 21).

From This Moment On ...

September

Thu 23: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 23: Jeremy McMurray & the Jazz Pocket Orchestra @ Middlesbrough Town Hall 8:00pm. .
Thu 23: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside, Gateshead. 8:30pm. .

Fri 24: Perdido Street Jazzmen (with Frank Brooker reeds, Eugene Farrar trombone, Brian Bennett banjo & Phil Rutherford sousaphone) @ Darlington Market Square, Darlington. 11:00am.
Fri 24: Sue Ferris Quintet @ Gala Theatre, Durham. 1:00pm.
Fri 24: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 24: Rendezvous Jazz @ Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 24: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band, Stockton. 1:00pm.
Fri 24: FILM: Jazz on a Summer's Day + Swing Bridge Trio (in the bar) @ Forum Cinema, Hexham. 7:00pm.

Sat 25: Silent Music Seeing Sound + Spinningwork @ Newcastle Arts Centre. 6:30pm. Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music (NFOJIM).
Sat 25: Knats @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Sun 26: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon. .
Sun 26: Musicians Unlimited @ South Durham Social Club, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. .
Sun 26: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm. .
Sun 26: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 4:00pm.
Sun 26: Sax Appeal @ The Blue Bell, Hill Street, Corbridge NE45 5AA. 4:30pm. Free. .
Sun 26: David Gray Flextet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 26: Nubiyan Twist @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 27: Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Wed 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 29: Darlington Big Band @ Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 29: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Thu 30: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 30: Mainly Two @ Newcastle University. 1:15pm. ONLINE ONLY (YouTube).
Thu 30: Shiver + Run Logan Run @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle. 8:00pm. NFOJIM.
Thu 30: Jeremy McMurray & the Jazz Pocket Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 30: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Gateshead. 8:30pm.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Book review: Peter Jones - This is Bop. Take 2

Having a fellow jazz singer and the author of This Is Hip, The Life of Mark Murphy examine the roots of bop vocalese and its innovator,  crooner/lyricist/raconteur, Jon Hendricks, is quite a challenge indeed. Author, Peter Jones carries this off with aplomb. A jazz journalist and singer/composer himself, Jones also won an ARSC award for one of the best books in 2018 by Jazz History Online.

"Jon Hendricks thought big and he knew no boundaries", writes Jones. He also quotes Hendricks regarding his inability to read music - "The secret of my art is ignorance, because I didn't know that you can't do this or can't do that". 

These themes resound throughout this 263 page tome which displays evidence of a copious amount of research. Interviews with band and family members as well as carefully documented performances and recordings from 1953 to 2016. The reader gets a complete picture of the  singer's musical and personal life in equal measure resulting in one really knowing the man. A no-holds barred account of Hendricks' successes as well as his difficulties, especially his questionable reputation in regard to his dealings with musicians, publishers  and collaborators.

In a long, frenetic and unpredictable, career, Hendricks sang  with an impressive array of jazz legends. These included Dizzy Gillespie, George Russell, Wynton Marsalis as well as singers, Dave Lambert, Annie Ross The Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin and Kurt Elling.  He was also awarded France's highest highest order of merit, the Légion d'honneur for both his service in World War II as well as his artistic achievements.

I  had the privilege of playing a number of gigs with The Jon Hendrick Explosion, a nine piece band he had going in the mid 1990s. I was mostly  though, involved with him as an arranger. This included several pieces from the Miles/Gil collaborations - Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess from  the late 1950s. This job required painstakingly transcribing Gil's orchestrations for a 20 piece orchestra along with Miles' solos. The next step was to reduce them to work for the  9 piece Explosion ensemble  made up of 5 horns, guitar and rhythm section with Jon singing his lyrics to Miles' parts. The task was completed by myself in tandem with longtime Hendricks' arranger, Mark Lopeman.

This project planted the seed for an epic and heroic work Miles Ahead that was a collaboration of Jon and  Pete Churchill, that started around  2012 and had its world premiere in February 2017 at St Peter's Church in NYC. It was performed by a 26 strong  choir, The London Vocal Project, arranged and conducted by Churchill. Hendricks who was 95 and in hospital at the time was granted a short leave from his bed and appeared with his small entourage a few minutes before the downbeat to an awaiting front row seat. A truly triumphant arrival and who else but the doyenne of vocal bop could pull this off?

Peter Jones provides  many examples throughout the book of Hendricks' rather parsimonious honorariums for sidemen - and arrangers were of no exception here either!. An example of this was my transcription/arrangement of Gershwin's Bess, You is My Woman Now from Porgy and Bess. At the first run through of it at rehearsal we discovered that  the high Db that Jon had to sing at the close of the piece was just out of his  reach , making it necessary for me to transpose and recopy the entire chart down a semitone to C. Mind you,  this was before the days of computer music software (Sibelius, Finale,etc) enabling a chart to be instantly transposed at the press of a button. It had to be done by hand  with a quill calligraphic  pen. Needless to say, an additional fee was not on the cards but,.."the show must go on",..as they say. However, Jon was  such  a positive force and enigmatic figure that members of his supporting cast, (like me) were only too happy to pitch in when in need. The musical results and band camaraderie greatly outweighed the  bumps along the way to achieving them.

This is Bop presents a solid look into Hendricks' life- an extremely well rounded account- neither hagiography nor full on hatchetry. It will undoubtedy answer many questions about this innovative and gifted musician's  career and life.
Frank Griffith

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