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Bebop Spoken There

Lakecia Benjamin: "From my early days with Clark Terry, he told me 'they see you before they hear you'... I'm just not from that school of thought where I'm gonna wear my jeans and T-shirt on stage and that's going to be respectable." - (Jazzwise, February 2023)

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

15056 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 75 of them this year alone and, so far, 75 this month (Jan. 25).

From This Moment On ...

January

Fri 27: Zoë Gilby Quartet @ Gala Theatre, Durham. 1:00pm. SOLDOUT!
Fri 27: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 27: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 27: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 27: Hip Hop Hooray @ Bar 52, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Fri 27: John Dikeman, Pat Thomas, John Edwards, Steve Noble @ Lit & Phil. 7:30pm. £10.00.
Fri 27: Rob Heron & the Tea Pad Orchestra @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. 7:30pm. £10.00. on the door. A Swung Eight event.
Fri 27: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. Ragtime & stride piano. 8:00pm.

Sat 28: Tyneside Improvisers Workshop @ Ye Olde Cross, Ryton. 2:00-4:00pm. All welcome.
Sat 28: Secular Sounds in a Sacred Place @ Holy Cross Church, Ryton. 4:30-7:00pm. £10.00. Continuous performance featuring: Christian Alderson, Faye MacCalman, Sally Pilkington, John Pope. Event preceded by a Tyneside Improvisers Workshop (2:00pm, see above).
Sat 28: Entartete Musik @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. A Brundibár Arts Festival event.

Sun 29: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 29: Musicians Unlimited @ Park Inn, Hartlepool. 1:00pm.
Sun 29: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 29: Hypnotic Brass Band @ Cluny, Newcastle. 7:00pm (doors). £20.00.
Sun 29: Jam No.12 @ Fabio's, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. Durham University Jazz Society jam session. All welcome (students & non-students).
Sun 29: Origin @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 30: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 31: ???

February

Wed 01: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 01: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 01: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 01: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Wed 01: Moonlight Serenade Orchestra UK: Glenn Miller & Big Band Spectacular @ Darlington Hippodrome. 7:30pm.

Thu 02: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 02: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library. 2:30-4:30pm. £1.00. All welcome.
Thu 02: Paul Skerritt Duo @ Tomahawk Steakhouse, High St., Yarm. 8:00pm.
Thu 02: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Tom Atkinson Sextet play Miles Davis' tribute to Jack Johnson @ Darlington Forum - August 5

Tom Atkinson (guitar); Jack Courtney (trumpet); Sue Ferris (sax; flute); Alan Law (keyboards); Deon Krishnan (bass); Jeff Armstrong (drums)

Time to dig out the box set. A surprise, it’s still sealed. I’m certain I’ve played something recently, though recently keeps extending the more the years advance. It must have been the single disc I must have sold years ago. How do they get six hours of music out of just over fifty minutes?

Not a favourite if I’m honest, but none of his fusion albums are, including Bitches Brew, Silent Way and Live Evil, or even On the Corner, the best of the electric years in my view, at least according to memory; something else time messes with.

Turns out my latest phone isn’t up to the job either. Somebody decided to give up on me and get me a phone that I can use to phone people or people to phone me, which seldom happens. In olden times I’d have borrowed Long Sufferer’s smart phone to take photos, but that’s not going to happen now that it’s grafted on.

Jack Johnson - and not Bitches Brew – is Miles’ rock album, or as American journalists call it, rock and roll, though I don’t detect any shards of Elvis or Chuck Berry anywhere.

For John McLaughlin enthusiasts – and there are many of us, from many disciplines beyond jazz – this is as much a part of his oeuvre as that of Miles, though John would and has denied this: 

Miles’ records were always quite carefully directed by him, orchestrated in a way that was not quite obvious...that ability to be able to make musicians play in a way they would not normally think of. He had a way of pulling things out of them that they were unaware of...it was absolutely Miles’ vision...Everybody would come up with things...we were only concerned with what we could do to contribute to what he was playing... the concept and the way music grew and was recorded was truly, absolutely Miles.  

It was apparent throughout that the concert was the brainchild of guitarist Tom Atkinson and he set out his stall from the off:  heavy riffing, strong technique and exacting use of far more technology than was available in the early seventies, at least beyond the studio. Trumpet took it up a notch, followed by Sue Ferris blowing harder sax than I’ve ever heard her before – and I’m a fan - then Alan Law, his keyboard set to Fender Rhodes through most of the set.  Muted horn (we’d also get some wah wah/cry baby) with some doodling, before it's back to the guitar to set things up again. 

The original album was dominated – after Miles – by McLaughlin, newcomer (nineteen year-old) Michael Henderson on bass and drummer Billy Cobham, who’d prove vital to the guitarist in his next major venture – the earth-shattering Mahavishnu Orchestra. Herbie turned up with some groceries and a copy of his latest album for Miles, who then made him play a solo on Farfisa Organ on Right Off, an instrument he’d never come across before.  

Jack Johnson would prove to be a transitional album, in various ways. It was a stepping-stone between the relative calm (in hindsight) of Bitches Brew and the relative ferocity of Live-Evil.  For McLaughlin, it was a mid-point between Tony Williams' Lifetime and his early solo albums, to the explosiveness of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was also a move from relatively straightforward rock rhythms towards the syncopated funkiness of the James Brown/Sly Stone influenced On the Corner.

It’s often said that Michael Henderson brought the funk to Miles, having already played with Aretha and Stevie Wonder (and he would become one of my favourite soul singers with his first four solo albums). It’s also said – at least in my Bluffers Guide to Jazz –that Miles always played the same and – in the liner notes to the boxset – Bill Milkowski concurs ‘any time that Miles Davis plays his trumpet – regardless of the sonic fabric surrounding him – it’s jazz’.

Black Satin, from the aforementioned On the Corner followed. Sue on flute – always a pleasure – and, while I’ve no idea what plays the melody on the original, flute, trumpet and guitar worked well enough. Deon took a first solo, developing it to a frantic slap-bass fest and drawing the only solo applause of the evening. A suitably concise drum solo led to another guitar solo, illustrating just how close jazz-rock was/is to instrumental prog-rock.

Miles Beyond was the final piece, taken from the second Mahavishnu Orchestra album Birds of Fire. Fitting, considering Bitches Brew features a track called John McLaughlin and this box set includes a track (actually several takes) called Go Ahead John, which Paul Stump used as the title of his biography of the great guitarist. Incidentally, he also wrote books about progressive rock and Roxy Music, all of which I’ve read, though I revile his blind (deaf) acceptance of Beatles hegemony.

The melody transferred successfully from guitar and violin on the album to guitar, trumpet and sax live, and Law maintained the significance of the keyboard on the original.

A successful and appropriate return to live gigs (following a wedding and a couple of plays) after a year and a half of confinement. The limited audience of just fifteen souls didn’t spoil it for me at all, though to go forward the industry will need to adapt to this type of thing. Steve T

2 comments :

Chris Kilsby said...

Welcome back to gigs Steve T, and many thanks to him and Russell for the in depth and informative reviews of this exciting and ambitious venture. This has prompted me (and others no doubt) to dig out this amazing LP and others from that era, and I'm delighted to see there are great musicians not only inspired by the music but clearly capable of taking it on! I can't believe this is 50 years old, not just because it dates me, but also because it still sounds fresh to me. It's a curious thought as well that music from my lifetime is in the category of inspiring tributes like this, instead of the familiar GAS book and standards from (even longer) departed heroes.

What's up next in the 50-year anniversaries to look forward to then?! Return to Forever, Weather Report, Nucleus and Mahavishnu surely? Chris K

Steve T said...

Let's hope so. I know another band who were actually rehearsing Jack Johnson until covid happened. Where next I wonder?

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