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Bebop Spoken There

Dee Dee Bridgewater: “ Our world is becoming a very ugly place with guns running rampant in this country... and New Orleans is called the murder capital of the world right now ". Jazzwise, May 2024.

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!

Holly Cooper, Mouthpiece Music: "Lance writes pull quotes like no one else!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

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

Postage

16462 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 342 of them this year alone and, so far, 54 this month (May 18).

From This Moment On ...

May

Mon 20: Harmony Brass @ the Crescent Club, Cullercoats. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 20: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 6:30-8:30pm. Free.
Mon 20: Joe Steels-Ben Lawrence Quartet @ The Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. £8.00.

Tue 21: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Alan Law, Paul Grainger, John Bradford.

Wed 22: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 22: Alice Grace Vocal Masterclass @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 6:00pm. Free.
Wed 22: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 22: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 22: Daniel Erdmann’s Thérapie de Couple @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Thu 23: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 23: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 23: Castillo Nuevo Trio @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30pm. Free.
Thu 23: Immortal Onion + Rivkala @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 23: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Jeremy McMurray (keys); Dan Johnson (tenor sax); Donna Hewitt (alto sax); Bill Watson (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass).

Fri 24: Hot Club du Nord @ The Gala, Durham. 1:00pm. £8.00. SOLD OUT!
Fri 24: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 24: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 24: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 24: Swannek + support @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. Time TBC.

Sat 25: Tyne Valley Big Band @ Bywell Hall, Stocksfield. 2:30pm.
Sat 25: Paul Edis Trio w. Bruce Adams & Alan Barnes @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 6:30pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sat 25: Nubiyan Twist @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Sat 25: Papa G’s Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 26: Tyne Valley Youth Big Band @ The Sele, Hexham. 12:30pm. Free. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sun 26: Musicians Unlimited @ Jackson’s Wharf, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 26: Alice Grace @ The Sele, Hexham. 1:30pm. Free. Alice Grace w. Joe Steels, Paul Susans & John Hirst.
Sun 26: Bryony Jarman-Pinto @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sun 26: Ruth Lambert Trio @ The Juke Shed, North Shields. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 26: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 26: Clark Tracey Quintet @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 6:00pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sun 26: Saltburn Big Band @ Saltburn Community Hall. 7:30pm.
Sun 26: Ruth Lambert Quartet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 26: SARÃB @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Album review: Thana Alexa - ONA

This bold, powerful and compelling album slipped beneath the critics’ radar on its release a year ago but may be ripe for rediscovery since garnering two Grammy nominations this month. Self-released in March 2020, ONA has been nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album and for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, for Regina Carter’s two and a half minute violin solo, a melancholy, swirling dance for the lost, the fallen and the forgotten on the third track here, Pachamama.

Alexa has Croatian and American roots and was brought up in both countries. The album was inspired by the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and the stories of immigrant women in her own family. Her website states that “The album speaks to us musically about every facet of womanhood, conveying a message of strength and empowerment”, and I wouldn’t dispute that. This her second album after Ode to Heroes which was released in 2015

The album starts with ONA, the only track which has the lyrics provided; ‘ona’ means ‘she’ in Croatian. The Rosa Vocal Group sing a round in Croatian and from that rises a statement of feminist intent, “We must be better than/Just to be equal to/Even when we succeed/ We don’t get paid like you/Stop all your staring boy/ Your disrespectful noise/You’re wrong if you think I was born to be your toy/I am Woman/I am free/ I will decide what happens with my body….” delivered over rumbling bass and drums, like an advancing storm.

The album mixes modern vocalese with scat singing and, at times, blends voice and instrumentation in such a way that one rises seamlessly from the other, such as the interplay between Jordan Peters’ guitar and Alexa’s Bjork-ish declamatory vocals on Animal Instinct and again on the closer, a cover of Tears for Fear, Everybody Wants to Rule the World

At other times the music is stripped back to the rhythm section alone. Staaf plays some lovely Bill Evans-ish piano on Set Free, and You Taught Me starts as a delicate acoustic guitar ballad before unleashing its full-on power. Teardrop is a cover of a Massive Attack track from that band’s Mezzanine album that builds to a thunderous prog guitar climax while He Said She Said frames an argument with a modern, percussive piano trio backing before laying back into something more wistful in a duet with Becca Stevens that also brings in a simpler backing including a ukulele.

This a vehement and passionate album from a committed singer with an agenda; the music, the lyrics and the vocal performance all work together to support that. This is a tremendous piece of work.

‘ONA’ by Thana Alexa is available through the usual streaming services or on CD from here

Dave Sayer

Tracks: ONA; The Resistance; Pachamama; Set Free; You Taught Me; Teardrop; Cassandra; He Said She Said; Animal Instinct; Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Musicians: Thana Alexa (voice/compositions/arrangements/keys); Carmen Staaf (piano/Fender Rhodes/keys); Matt Brewer (acoustic and electric bass); Antonio Sanchez (drums;/perc/keys) plus the Rosa Vocal Group (track 1); Staceyann Chinn (spoken word track 2); Regina Carter (violin track 3); Becca Stevens (vocals/ukulele/charango/track 8).

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