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Bebop Spoken There

Maurice J. Summerfield: "Over dinner one night Barney [Kessel] told me about his seminar The Effective Guitarist, and in 1972 my company presented the first of twelve annual UK seminars in Newcastle upon Tyne." - (Just Jazz Guitar, September 1997)

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

15087 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 106 of them this year alone and, so far, 4 this month (Feb. 1).

From This Moment On ...

February

Sat 04: Alligator Gumbo @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington. 12:30pm.
Sat 04: Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Tutor: John Pope - Up Your Rhythm Game. £25.00. Enrol at: www.jazz.coop.
Sat 04: King Bees @ Grainger Market, Newcastle. 6:30pm (doors). Live music, comedy, DJs, food stalls. £10.00. advance, £15.00. on the door. Blues band King Bees on stage 9:45-11:15pm. A Great Market Caper event.
Sat 04: Jives Aces @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 7:30pm.
Sat 04: Renegade Brass Band @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors).
Sat 04: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm. £3.00.

Sun 05 Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 05: Rivkala @ Cumberland Arms, Newcastle. 6:00pm.
Sun 05: Jive Aces @ Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Sun 05: Dale Storr @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Sun 05: Jam No.13 @ Fabio's, Saddler St., Durham. Free. Durham University Jazz Society jam session. All welcome (students & non-students alike).

Mon 06: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 07: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 7:30pm. House trio: Alan Law (piano); Paul Grainger (double bass); Rob Walker (drums). Jam session reverts to a first & third Tuesday in the month schedule.

Wed 08: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 08: Jam session @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 1:00pm. Free. TBC.
Wed 08: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 08: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 08: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 09: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 4:00pm (this week only). Free.
Thu 09: Indigo Jazz Voices @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:45pm. £5.00.
Thu 09: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 10: Alan Barnes w Dean Stockdale Trio @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall. 1:00pm. £7.00. SOLD OUT!
Fri 10: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 10: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 10: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 10: Alan Barnes w Dean Stockdale Trio @ Traveller's Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. £12.00.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Album review: Matthew Stevens - Pittsburgh

(Press release)

He may not have known it before, but Toronto-born, New York-based guitarist Matthew Stevens, prized for his forceful, distinctive electric sound on Esperanza Spalding’s groundbreaking “Emily’s D+Evolution”, “Exposure” and the GRAMMY-winning 1’2 Little Spell’s, was an ideal candidate to make an album fully devoted to solo acoustic guitar: the intimate, unadorned, straightforwardly titled Pittsburgh.

Stevens’ previous two outings, Woodwork (2015) and Preverbal (2017), made use of steel-string acoustic as a vibrant textural contrast, notably on “Brothers” and “Our Reunion” (featuring Spalding as guest and co-composer). Still, a solo acoustic album seemed to Stevens like a ‘maybe someday’ prospect, if that. Then came the convergence of two major events — the COVID-19 pandemic and a fractured elbow.

By September 2020, Stevens was hunkering down in his wife’s family’s hometown of Pittsburgh, still busy with adjunct teaching (virtually) at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute while navigating his way through the crisis. He had with him a vintage Martin 00-17, a small-body mahogany guitar that he bought not long after recording Exposure with Spalding (the studio had a different one in its possession and Stevens used it fairly extensively on that album). Practicing daily on the Martin, he began generating a series of short song “starts” — ideas and sketches he thought might lead somewhere. With the help of his friend, go-to drummer and producer Eric Doob, he made preliminary versions of some of the Pittsburgh material for The Jazz Gallery’s virtual “Lockdown Sessions” video series, and the vision started to take on a more concrete form.

Then one rainy Pittsburgh day, Stevens’ bike slid out from under him and he broke his right elbow. Rather than getting derailed musically, he became immersed in a creative process that led straight to Pittsburgh: a document of those short song ‘starts’ from the notebook, now hatched as completed compositions. “Playing this music became a big part of my rehab,” Stevens recalls. “My aunt is a physical therapist, so I was doing sessions with her online. She said that what we do as guitar players is so specific, it uses muscle groups we’re not even aware of. She told me I needed to start playing as soon as I could, so those things don’t seize up and you don’t lose strength. She said, ‘I know you can’t lift a shopping bag, but if you feel like you can play at all you should play.’ I really could have been flailing, but the solo project offered me a different path: I had material to work on and I could just lose myself in it because it required so much repetition, such close attention to things that are slow and deliberate. It spared me from a lot of mental anguish.”

As the album took shape, it became clear to Stevens that he was headed in
the direction of a wholly unaccompanied recital, with no overdubs or sound layering of any kind. Just him and this special Martin, two Neumann U89 mics and enough peace of mind across two separate sessions to make Pittsburgh the triumph that it is. “I’ve always felt that playing acoustic is a great way to develop a touch and a connection to an instrument,” Stevens comments. “There’s no apparatus that helps you be expressive, play dynamically, or create ambience on an acoustic guitar. So when you develop that, it’s something you can carry with you into playing electric.”

Compositionally, there are discernible families of songs on Pittsburgh: the rapidly flowing, intricately arpeggiated pattern pieces such as “Purpose of a Machine,” “Can Am” (named in honour of Stevens’ recently acquired American citizenship) and “Cocoon” (a thorough reworking of a piece first heard on Preverbal); the tranquil, hymn-like songs “Foreign Ghosts,” “Ending Is Beginning” and “Miserere”; and the grittier, more timbrally “outside” inventions such as “Ambler” and “Northern Touch.” Throughout, we hear a rich resonance and immediacy in Stevens’ touch, a flavour all his own, even as he draws inspiration from John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Marc Ribot and other jazz guitar greats who’ve made acoustic exploration a significant part of their legacy.

Release date October 8, Whirlwind Recordings WR4779. YouTube link.

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