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Bebop Spoken There

John McDonough (reviewing Bright Red Dog’s In Vivo): “When you improvise on nothing, that’s what you get”. - DownBeat August 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.

Postage

13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Book review: David Burke - Giant Steps Diverse Journeys in British Jazz

David Burke has been writing about music since the mid-eighties. A contributor to Classic Pop and Vintage Rock magazines and the All About Jazz website, Burke is the author of books on subjects as diverse as Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and folk artists Maddy Prior, June Tabor and Linda Thompson. Giant Steps is a collection of portraits-cum-interviews with established and emerging British jazz musicians. The common denominator in Burke's book is the experience of 'Black British' artists, their heritage, experiences and the challenge of making a name for themselves in post-colonial Britain.

Many of Giant Steps' interviewees make reference to Gary Crosby and Janine Irons. The Jazz Warriors and Tomorrow's Warriors were, and are, training grounds for black British musicians. To this day Crosby continues to do invaluable work. NYJO and its regional equivalents were populated predominately by white British musicians, many jazz venues weren't particularly welcoming to non-white British musicians (Ronnie Scott's doesn't escape criticism), these are the observations of several of Burke's subjects. This is how it used to be and the general concensus among the interviewees is that things have changed for the better but there is still much work to do. 

Musicians gigging in London, south London and, down to the micro level, south east London, are considered integral to an emerging, developing and self-sustaining scene. Almost without exception there is proud acknowledgement of the influence of Caribbean, African and Asian heritage. Recurring themes abound: recognition of the notion they're 'standing on the shoulders of giants' - Coleridge Goode, Joe Harriott, Harry Beckett and others in Britain, Ellington through to Coltrane and beyond in America; in the year of the book's publication, commentary on Black Lives Matter and the global pandemic.

Black representation in British jazz was/is an issue, similarly, women in jazz. Of Burke's twenty five interviewees, five are female - Gail Thompson, Zoe Rahman, Zara McFarlane, Camilla George and Shirley Tetteh. Each has a story to tell of barriers, discrimination and, crucially, how they overcame or continue to deal with it all. 

From Courtney Pine to KT Reeder, there is a story to be told. One such, is Tony Kofi's story...a young man working as an apprentice carpenter, a near-death experience leading to a life in jazz. As 'human interest' stories go, this is one hell of a story. It is to be hoped most jazz fans will, at the very least, be familiar with Burke's subjects. For those who aren't up to speed, Giant Steps will serve as a useful primer. Russell      
                       
Giant Steps Diverse Journeys in British Jazz by David Burke is published by Desert Hearts (ISBN: 9781908755483). 

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