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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

13,726 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 1143 of them this year alone and, so far, 87 this month (Sept. 24).

From This Moment On ...

September

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. 4:00pm. 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: '58 Jazz Collective @ Hops and Cheese, 9-11 Tower St., Hartlepool, TS24 7HH. Tel 0770 4160417. 7:30pm.
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.

Fri 01: Robert Mitchell @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. NFOJIM.
Fri 01: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 01: Rendezvous Jazz @ Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 01: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm.
Fri 01: Warmer Than Blood + Kit Downes + Ceitidh Mac @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 7:30pm. NFOJIM.
Fri 1: Knats + Hand to Mouth @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free but ticketed.

Sat 02: Paul Edis @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sat 02: Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Stuart Fowler: Learning Jazz Standards. £25.00. To enrol email: learning@jazz.coop.
Sat 02: Zoë Gilby & Andy Champion @ Newcastle Arts Centre. 2:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sat 02: John Pope Quintet @ Newcastle Arts Centre. 3:30pm.
Sat 02: Jamie Cullum @ Sage Gateshead. 7:30pm.
Sat 02: Green Tangerines @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sat 02: Alina Bzhezhinska HipHarp Quartet + Pat Thomas. 8:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sat 02: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm.

Sun 03: Vieux Carre Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 03: Smokin' Spitfires @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 12:45pm.
Sun 03: Zoe Rahman @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sun 03: Musicians Unlimited @ South Durham Social Club, Hartlepool. 1:00pm.
Sun 03: Abbie Finn Trio + jam session @ Newcastle Arts Centre. 2:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sun 03: Mainly Two @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sun 03: Pope/Garner/Williams @ The Globe, Newcastle. 4:30pm. NFOJIM.
Sun 03: Fergus McCreadie Trio @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 7:00pm. NFOJIM.
Sun 03: Huw V Williams @ The Globe, Newcastle. 9:00pm. NFOJIM.

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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