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Bebop Spoken There

Charles Lloyd: "I'm raring to go out to play, because I know I'll find something to explain the inexplicable." (DownBeat August 2022)

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!"

Postage

14438 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 14 years ago. 716 of them this year alone and, so far, 13 this month (August 6).

From This Moment On ...

August

Wed 10: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 10: Castillo Nuevo @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Wed 10: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 10: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 10: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 11: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 11: Baghdaddies @ Cumberland Arms, Newcastle. Time TBC.
Thu 11: Indigo Jazz Voices: Little Big Band Special @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:45pm. POSTPONED!
Thu 11: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm. Guests Donna Hewitt (sax) Josh Bentham (sax) Garry Hadfield (keys).

Fri 12: Ben Gilbert Trio @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall. 1:00pm.
Fri 12: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 12: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 12: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.

Sun 14: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 14: Tees Valley Jazzmen @ Hammer & Pincers, Preston le Skerne. 1:00pm.
Sun 14: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ West Park, South Shields. 2:00pm.
Sun 14: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 14: Anth Purdy @ Blues & Bourbon, Newcastle. 4:00pm. Free.
Sun 14: Castillo Nuevo @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Sun 14: Sunday Night Am Jam Special @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Note start time.

Mon 15: Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 15: Stu Collingwood Organ Trio @ Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. Blaydon Jazz Club.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Film review: Summer of Soul

The Summer of Soul 

finally arrives, over half a century after the event happened, at a time it’s hard to imagine as anything other than a long, dark, cold winter for soul.

I went with big brother, who taught me well that being a soul fan is for life and not just for soul nights. It’s not just for a change from ‘normal’ music, and it isn’t ‘normal’ music. It’s not for people who don’t want to listen to anything anybody else has heard and it’s not for people who only want to listen to music everybody has heard.

 

Since it’s now official that that soul music is no longer cool in this country, it’s hard to spot who this film is going to appeal to and, while the takings have been pretty good, there was little evidence of this at the Arc in Stockton, for one of its three showings. With a couple of showings at cinemas in Newcastle and Hexham, Stockton would seem to be the natural catchment for Darlington and Teesside, both with long established soul scenes, not to mention the internationally recognised northern soul stronghold Newton Aycliffe.

 

Somebody said they got goose-bumps when Nina Simone turned up, and I immediately earmarked that for a comfort break. However, it turned out to be almost the finale, like everybody else was a support act, and Nina – and not Curtis Mayfield and James Brown - led the soul music charge for civil rights.

 

The film opens with Stevie Wonder, impressive on drums, and in between child star and international superstar. He’ll feature later to show his keyboard skills on the evolving technology he would help pioneer.

 

To the mass media, soul music evolved almost entirely from gospel, as rock music claims the blues, so it was good to hear BB, still in his prime, but sadly a lone blues voice.

 

Jazz is actually better represented, beginning with flautist Herbie Mann, subtitles pointing out it’s Roy Ayers on vibes, which nobody would have cared much about in the late sixties. The Fifth Dimension were a pop/easy-listening/ jazz version of soul I’ve never cared for, but I believe became part of the soul scene in more recent times.

 

The event was spread over six weeks in the summer of 69, with a concert each week. Gospel had its own day with the Edwin Hawkins Choir, featuring various exorcisms, speaking in tongues and fits - the usual gospel fayre - before Mavis Staples proved that Aretha wasn’t the only force of nature among lady soul singers. With her sisters and her father, the Staple Singers had recently signed to Stax but hadn’t yet gone in the gospel-soul direction they would dominate. She also got to sing with her idol Mahalia Jackson, who seemed to have some fits of her own.

 

An appearance by David Ruffin was the most enticing act there for me and would probably be the best chance of attracting fans of the soul scene. Fresh out of The Temptations, he sang an adequate version of My Girl, but lacked the pervasive soulfulness that would spread around the Sunderland Empire twenty years later, shortly before his death.

 

Staying with Motown, Gladys Knight had the voice and her Pips had the moves on I Heard it Through the Grapevine, still a typical Motown song just ahead of Marvin Gaye’s transformation of it.

 

Sly and the Family Stone was probably the highlight for me with Sing a Simple Song and Everyday People. The festival and film were trailed as being lost under the shadow of Woodstock. Sly played both festivals and, until fairly recently, was generally considered one of the highlights of its more famous cousin, alongside Hendrix and Santana.

 

Some Latin may well be another way in for the soul scene, with its bizarre take on jazz, and we had Mongo Santamaria’s classic version of Herbie Hancock’s double classic Watermelon Man, followed by Ray Barretto. Africa was represented by jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela.

 

Guitarist Sonny Sharrock, who would play alongside John McLaughlin on the Miles Davis album Jack Johnson, was also featured in the film,  though I think he may have only appeared on additional tracks on the boxset.

 

I knew Max Roach had played but I’d forgotten so this was a pleasant surprise on the day, particularly when he was joined by Abbey Lincoln. Not particularly on the soul side of jazz singers, a boxset including We Insist and It’s Time – part of the jazz charge on civil rights - have since gone from ‘saved for later’ to my basket, ahead of payday.

 

Following Nina Simone, it returns to Sly and the Family Stone for Want to Take You Higher which ends the film.

 

Along the way we learn that the Black Panthers handled security, it coincided with the moon landing (which seemed to draw similar criticism to recent multi-billionaire space adventures), and the period when black replaced negro as the correct term for ‘people of colour.’  The Festival also seemed to feature some more interesting artists, like Chuck Jackson, though I’ve been unable to identify others.

 

While essential viewing for soul fans, it doesn’t have the highlights of Wattstax, Soul Power or Brothers and Sisters, so I imagine Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Sly Stone will give it greater appeal to the people who think of soul music as what Zappa called radio music, and just another part of what they include under the heading rock and roll.
Steve T

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