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Bebop Spoken There

Charles McPherson: “Jazz is best heard in intimate places”. (DownBeat, July, 2024).

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Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.


16611 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 1504 of them this year alone and, so far, 50 this month (July 23).

From This Moment On ...


Thu 25: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Garry Hadfield (keys); Noel Dennis (tpt); Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Adrian Beadnell (bass).
Thu 25: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.

Fri 26: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 26: Bailiwick + Sleep Suppressor + Christie/Chan @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors 6:30pm). ‘Experimental evening of jazz, punk and jazz-punk’.
Fri 26: Nomade Swing Trio @ Repas7 by Night, Berwick. 7:30pm. Free.
Fri 26: Stuart Turner @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Fri 26: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Fri 26: Bold Big Band @ Old Coal Yard, Byker, Newcastle. 9:30pm. A Newcastle Fringe Festival event.

Sat 27: BBC Proms: BBC Introducing stage @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 12 noon. Free. Line-up inc. Nu Groove (2:00pm); Abbie Finn Trio (2:50pm); Dilutey Juice (3:50pm); SwanNek (5:00pm); Rivkala (6:00pm).
Sat 27: Nomade Swing Trio @ Billy Bootlegger’s, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sat 27: Mississippi Dreamboats @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sat 27: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Sat 27: Theon Cross + Knats @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 10:00pm. £22.00. BBC Proms: BBC Introducing Stage (Sage Two). A late night gig.

Sun 28: Musicians Unlimited @ Jackson’s Wharf, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 28: Miss Jean & the Ragtime Rewind Swing Band @ Fonteyn Ballroom, Dunelm House (Durham Students’ Union), Durham. 2:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Sun 28: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: Ruth Lambert Trio @ The Juke Shed, Union Quay, North Shields. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: Nomade Swing Trio @ Red Lion, Alnmouth. 4:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: Jazz Jam Sandwich! @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 28: Jeffrey Hewer Collective @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 28: Milne Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.

Mon 29: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 30: ???

Wed 31: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 31: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 31: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Jazzing around from Middlesbrough to Jesmond via Montreal by Peter Wardle

I was brought up in Middlesbrough and my early memories were of the austere post war period - ration books, shortages, blackout curtains, fogs, etc. My earliest memories of music were from listening to the BBC Light Programme, 78's played on an old windy-up gramophone and my mother playing piano in the front room. My mother encouraged me to learn to play the piano but I was too busy kicking a ball around the local parks. I have always regretted not listening to her advice. My earliest experience of live music was performing in gang shows on the stage of the Middlesbrough Empire. I was fascinated by the activity of the pit orchestra. All my family attended the Woodlands Road Methodist Church and I enjoyed, and still do, the singing of hymns.

I don't recall going to any live music events other than brass band concerts playing in Albert Park. My introduction to jazz music was some 60 years ago watching the film Jazz on a Summer’s Day. Stand out performances I still remember were from Anita O'Day and Jimmy Giuffre on tenor with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer. I have been a jazz fan ever since!

There wasn't much of a jazz scene in Middlesbrough in those days. My first employer was Head Wrightson where I was trained in the drawing office. I met a guy in the office called Max Clark who was a semi-pro drummer. He introduced me to a great jazz gig that was held in the Coatham Hotel in Redcar every Sunday night which I went to with my college mates. That was the highlight of my week in those days. The Coatham attracted some big names in the jazz world which included Ben Webster, Humphrey Lyttleton, Ken Colyer, Ted Heath and many more. Forty odd years later, Ray Dales put me back in touch with Max Clark. I had a chat with him over the phone and invited him to the Cherry Tree but sadly he died before he could make it. He was a great extrovert character - maybe all drummers are!

My work took me to Montreal Canada, the year of Expo 67. There was all types of live music played on the various countries’ exhibition stands. It was a good introduction to the country and I stayed there for four years. I didn't find any jazz clubs there but there was and still is a large modern concert hall - Place des Arts. I went there many times to see some of the world's greatest jazz artists including Ella, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett, Erroll Garner and many more. Little did I know then that 40 years hence I would open a restaurant - The Cherry Tree - and book hundreds of musicians to perform there albeit none of the above names!

I came back to England in 1972 and re-located in Newcastle. I always retained my interest in jazz and attended the City Hall many times to see the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Jools Holland, Buddy Rich, and many more. I was booked to see Sarah Vaughan with I think the Count Basie orchestra but she was ill and replaced by Joe Williams. I have always been a big fan of Sarah Vaughan but failed to ever see her. I worked in London in the early 80's and took every opportunity to visit Ronnie Scott’s which. In my opinion, I think was in its heyday at that time with many America jazz artists playing there. In addition to the regulars i.e. Ronnie, Tubby Hayes etc. I saw Ella again, Nina Simone, Chet Baker and many more.

I opened the Castle Farm Tennis Centre in 1991 (now known as the David Lloyd Tennis Club). Shortly after we opened we introduced live jazz on Sunday lunch times. I enlisted the help of James Birkett who introduced me to some of the local jazz musicians. We ran this for some time and it was well supported by club members - a great atmosphere.

I have always been a fan of Ella Fitzgerald and saw her for a third time in Sheffield Town Hall and finally in the Royal Albert Hall singing with the Count Basie Orchestra. This was her last appearance in the UK. She came on stage in a wheel chair and performed some time sitting on a stool or leaning on the piano. She sang beautifully. Very emotional time for me. She then went back to the States as she was unable to complete her European tour.

At various times in London I have seen Sammy Davis Jnr., Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand. I also saw Glen Campbell who, although not a jazz singer, was an excellent guitarist.

In 2008, with the help of two friends, I opened the Cherry Tree Restaurant. The aim was to achieve a good quality dining experience and jazz music venue. The premises came with a grand piano. It was in a poor condition and I had it taken away to be reconditioned. I again called on the help of James Birkett and we soon built up a huge register of jazz musicians resident in the North East. I love the piano and I was amazed at the number of talented pianists who performed at the restaurant over the years including Alan Law, Paul Edis, Alan Glen, James Harrison, Peter Gilligan, Dean Stockdale, Jeremy McMurray and Stuart Collingwood.

I never ceased to be amazed at the number of very talented jazz musicians and could easily have booked a band for every day of the week. We usually booked solo players for Saturday nights and Sunday lunch times. Guitar players were very popular which included Mark Williams, Bradley Johnston, Joel Byrne McCullough, James Birkett, Roly Veitch, Nick Pride, Steve Glendinning and Giles Strong.

I always felt sorry for the bass players who had to carry around their huge instruments including Paul Grainger (Boro supporter!), Andy Champion, John Pope, and Neil Harland. Then we had the drummers including David Carnegie, Russ Morgan and Tom Chapman. The wind instrumentalists included Ray Dales, Noel Dennis, Mark Toomey, Graham Hardy and Graeme Wilson. Many of our bands included a vocalist and they were always much appreciated - Alice Grace, Lindsay Hannon, Jo Harrop, Ruth Lambert, Zoë Gilby, Mo Scott, Tasha Seale and Tessa Souter (pictured), to name but a few.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all these very talented musicians, and all those that I have forgotten to mention, who contributed to making the Cherry Tree the status it achieved on the jazz scene of Tyneside.

Disappointingly the lease on the Cherry Tree expired in 2017 and I was unable to continue. However, I do continue to support all the jazz venues and it's a great pleasure to meet up again with all the talented musicians who played at the Cherry Tree.

It is very disappointing that we are not able, due to the lockdown, to attend any live gigs. I maintain my interest in jazz by playing my stock of CD's and catching up with stuff on YouTube. I am amazed what can be found on YouTube. I particularly enjoy Les Paul's jam sessions. Although he has passed away his music lives on together with all the guests he had on his shows. The other night Anita O'Day was on singing a recording which must have been made many years after her appearance on Jazz on a Summer's Day! My interest in jazz music, needless to say, is also maintained by following Bebop Spoken Here.

Peter Wardle


Roly Veitch said...

Hello Peter
It’s nice to hear from you and I enjoyed reading this. Those Cherry Tree gigs were so lovely to do and they were well appreciated by the many musicians who played there. We were so well looked after. It certainly became an institution on the local scene. Best wishes. Roly

Russell said...

A great read. Peter, you said you inherited a piano when you took on the place. What was the premises used for before you moved in?

Tessa Souter said...

Thank you, Peter, for all you did/do fir jazz! Thank you fir driving me home after my gig! I remember you told me about how you saw Ella that last time! What a wonderful venue you provided us with!

Peter said...

The tenant prior to us was a restaurant but they did not use the piano. The tenant before that was the Boy Scouts' shop and also the rehearsal rooms for their gang shows hence the piano. I am told The piano was gifted to the scouts by the Humphrey’s family who lived in Jesmond. The piano was made by Britain’s oldest maker John Broadwood & Sons. It was a wreck when we acquired it and it was beautifully restored for us. When we closed we proudly passed it on to one of our regular performers. I watched it dismantled and taken away with a heavy heart!

Peter said...

I forgot to mention that in 2016 I went to Toronto to visit an old pal of mine. It was a great trip the highlight being the Jazz festival that was in full swing. I think it is internationally well known. The location is a road that leads out of the centre to the waterfront. It is about a mile long. Traffic is banned and there are bands on each side about 100 metres apart. The atmosphere is fantastic and we spent two nights soaking up some jazz and atmosphere.

Ron Ainsborough said...

A lovely read , extremely interesting Peter.

I can't wait to be able to gigs / jam sessions as you mentioned. Not just to hear the music but also to meet all our friends which I miss greatly.


Lance said...

Some of the other great players included Vasilis Xenopoulos, Lennart Andersson, Lewis Watson, Emma Fisk, Sue Ferris in fact it would be easier to list those who didn't play at The Cherry Tree!

Patti said...

Ah, Peter - what a great read! Your very interesting life before starting The Cherry Tree too! I've enjoyed so many delicious meals there, with or without the jazz - but this always made for an extra treat. For the excellent food and high class entertainment, you created one of the best nights out in the Toon. And let's hope we can all get to gigs again sometime soon ...... cheers to you, Peter.

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