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Bebop Spoken There

Victor Wooten: "People don't expect to have bass players get together and sound like music and not just like a bunch of elephants" (JazzTimes April, 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! --

Postage

14226 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 14 years ago. 445 of them this year alone and, so far, 45 this month (May 13).

From This Moment On ...

May.

Wed 18: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 18: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 18: Four @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 18: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 19: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, North Tyneside. 1:00pm.
Thu 19: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library. 3:00-5:00pm. £1.00. All welcome.
Thu 19: Castillo Nuevo @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Thu 19: Maine Street Jazzmen @ Sunniside Social Club, Gateshead. 8:30pm.
Thu 19: 58 Jazz Collective @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm. TBC.

Fri 20: Andrea Vicari Trio @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. Vicari (piano), Andy Champion (double bass), Abbie Finn (drums).
Fri 20: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 20: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm.
Fri 20: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 20: Swing Bridge @ Garden House Coffee, Hallgate, Hexham. 4:05pm.
Fri 20: Castillo Nuevo @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Fri 20: Customs House Big Band w Ruth Lambert @ Exchange, North Shields. 7:30pm.
Fri 20: Andrea Vicari Trio @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. £12.00. Opus 4 Jazz Club. Vicari (piano), Andy Champion (double bass), Abbie Finn (drums).

Sat 21: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Market Place, Darlington. 11:00am - 3:00pm. All star line-up!
Sat 21: Elkie Brooks @ Whitley Bay Playhouse. 7:30pm.
Sat 21: Jools Holland’s R & B Orchestra @ The Hippodrome, Darlington. 7:30pm.
Sat 21: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Sun 22 Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.
Sun 22: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 22: Foundry Jazz Ensemble @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 22: Abstract Orchestra plays J Dilla @ Wylam Brewery, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Sun 22: Panharmonia @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £10.00 adv., £12.00. door.

Mon 23: Jazz in the Afternoon @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Wed 25: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 25: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 25: Four @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 25: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

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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