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Bebop Spoken There

Dee Dee Bridgewater: “ Our world is becoming a very ugly place with guns running rampant in this country... and New Orleans is called the murder capital of the world right now ". Jazzwise, May 2024.

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!"

Simon Spillett: A lovely review from the dean of jazz bloggers, Lance Liddle...

Josh Weir: I love the writing on bebop spoken here... I think the work you are doing is amazing.


16434 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 314 of them this year alone and, so far, 26 this month (May 9).

From This Moment On ...


Sat 18: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:00-9:00pm. Free. Celebrating ‘10 years of the Jazz Jam!’. House trio: Alan Law, Paul Grainger, Tim Johnston. A Late Shows event.
Sat 18: SH#RP Collective @ Holy Name Parish Church Hall, Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:00-9:00pm. Tickets: £15.00. Bar available, BYO snacks. A Jesmond Community Festival event. All proceeds to Kabuyanda Charity (Ugandan health care).
Sat 18: Red Kites Jazz @ Staithes Café, Autumn Drive, Gateshead. 7:30pm.
Sat 18: Alligator Gumbo @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 7:30pm.
Sat 18: Rockin’ Turner Brothers @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 18: Papa G’s Amigos special summer Latin set @ The Schooner, Gateshead NE8 3AF. 9:00pm. Free.
Sat 18: Late Night Special with Ruth Lambert & special guests @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 10:00pm-midnight. £5.00. (booking essential). Lambert & surprise jam session guests from down the years.

Sun 19: BTS Trombone Day @ Mark Hillery Arts Centre, Collingwood College, Durham University DH1 3LT. 11:00am-5:00pm. Free to British Trombone Society members (£10.00. & £5.00. to non-members). Recitals, workshops and mass blows.
Sun 19: Women Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. £25.00. Tutor: Andrea Vicari. Enquiries:
Sun 19: Ransom Van @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 19: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 19: Andrea Vicari Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 20: Harmony Brass @ the Crescent Club, Cullercoats. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 20: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 6:00-8:00pm. Free. Opus de Funk: Horace Silver.
Mon 20: Joe Steels-Ben Lawrence Quartet @ The Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. £8.00.

Tue 21: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Alan Law, Paul Grainger, John Bradford.

Wed 22: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 22: Alice Grace Vocal Masterclass @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 6:00pm. Free.
Wed 22: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 22: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 22: Daniel Erdmann’s Thérapie de Couple @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Thu 23: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 23: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 23: Castillo Nuevo Trio @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30pm. Free.
Thu 23: Immortal Onion + Rivkala @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 23: The Doris Day Story @ Phoenix Theatre, Blyth. 7:30pm.
Thu 23: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Jeremy McMurray (keys); Dan Johnson (tenor sax); Donna Hewitt (alto sax); Bill Watson (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass).

Fri 24: Hot Club du Nord @ The Gala, Durham. 1:00pm. £8.00. SOLD OUT!
Fri 24: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 24: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 24: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 24: Swannek + support @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. Time TBC.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

A Century of Jazz: The Great and the Good

A few years ago I came across a list of the greatest jazz artists of all time which totally flabbergasted me. After the first five artists, it improves drastically, featuring – in amongst those pesky female singers – my top six in the next eight positions, but its top five - in order - were Art Tatum, Buddy Rich, Joe Pass, Django Reinhardt and Lionel Hampton. Another list I will refer to later has Tatum at 21, Django at 27, Hampton at 37 and, while Rich manages an honorary mention just outside the top hundred, alongside seventeen others, Pass isn’t included at all. Incidentally, my own list of the top hundred may only include Art Tatum from these five.   

At the end of the last century, Channel Four commissioned a national survey to find the Music of the Millennium which, apart from the classical category, became the music of C20th which, without the jazz category, became the music of the previous four decades. Mercifully jazz and classical music were ordained with their own categories so didn’t suffer the indignity of jockeying for position with multi-million selling pop stars and their haircuts. A friend of mine, following the official line, observed that Robbie Williams – popular at the time – had won everything, until I reminded him that (the) Beatles had won best group, best album (Sgt Pepper), second best singer (John Lennon), best and second best songwriter (John Lennon, Paul McCartney), best musician (John Lennon) and best (or was it second best) single Imagine (John Lennon). Just in case anybody still doesn’t think they’re seriously over-rated.  


The same friend also claimed that the jazz category was nonsense because Duke Ellington was nowhere. While I don’t remember the exact order (and I’m assured the accompanying magazine will be staying in the attic for the foreseeable), I know Louis Armstrong came in first, with Miles Davis second, followed by Ella and Billie, then Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Thereafter it’s largely nonsense but take out the ladies and you have very probably the greatest five jazz artists of all time. Not just my opinion and not my own preferences; not quite.


The list I mentioned earlier I came across more recently and it eerily mirrors my own view of the greatest jazz artists of all time. The top four are Satchmo, Duke, Miles and Bird, though the order really doesn’t matter. Satchmo came first chronologically but Miles was the most recent and Miles – presumably narked with Satchmo for all that grinning for Whitey – referred to Duke as the King of Jazz. The BSH Editor in Chief would likely argue for Bird, and I wouldn’t recommend you argue with him on points of jazz; not if I were you. The young’uns are by now likely banging their instruments claiming Trane was the greatest of them all and he undoubtedly comes next, followed by Dizzy Gillespie, too often omitted from the very top tier under the shadow of Bird. Once again the ladies become entangled but amongst them we get Thelonious Monk, followed by Charles Mingus, then Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins. Totally uncanny; almost scarily so.


Not my opinion; that would be Miles, Trane, Mingus with many others mingling in and dozens ahead of Monk; but I can’t deny his greatness.


Of course art is not an exact science and, indeed, science is not an exact science either. Admirers of vocal jazz could justly insist on the reinstatement of the ladies. People who’re big on swing more than I would rightly expect Count Basie to be there or thereabouts (and indeed he falls between Mingus and Lester Young on the list under discussion). Fans of gypsy jazz would want Django and Stephane Grappelli to be placed pretty high and free jazzers might reasonably expect Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. Fusion people would no doubt want John McLaughlin and Joe Zawinul while guitarists would probably argue for Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery.  


However, one could not simply claim that random artists are the greatest because that’s their opinion, because they are their favourites.


A few years ago somebody told me he likes blues and listed his favourites. He had the full set: Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. I’d hoped for BB, maybe Albert or Freddie; perhaps Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker; maybe even Charley Patton or Leadbelly. I’d have taken one of the Roberts: Johnson or Cray, but he didn’t even have the usual get out of racism free card Hendrix, and subsequently told me he doesn’t judge music by the colour of the skin of the artist who made it.


If I tried to say that Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Florence Price and George Bridgetower were the greatest classical composers ever, this would rightly be considered ridiculous, but all the great Back American music forms have suffered an inflation of significance and importance from white influences across mainstream media in recent decades.


Clearly this is a problem of language and media representation rather than individual racism and what this chap really likes is blues based rock, which is all rock, and virtually everything else too. After gospel, blues is the ‘blackest’ of all Black American music, even ahead of soul and hip-hop, and certainly ahead of disco, jazz and rock and roll, all of which it could be argued have produced many good and great white artists thank you very much. Jazz certainly has.


Returning to the list, the first white artist included is Benny Goodman at 18 (who wouldn’t make my list) followed by Bill Evans at 20 (who would) with a further twenty five white artists spread liberally throughout the rest of the 100. Some readers may not be surprised that  John McLaughlin would top my list of the greatest ever white jazz artists, that would also include Gil Evans. Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Dave Holland, Miroslav Vitous, Bob James, Jaco Pastorius and many others.   


However, if anybody tries to tell you the greatest jazz artists were Bix Beiderbecke, Django, Chet Baker and Dave Brubeck you may want to give him or her a wide berth, or sit them in a classroom with Dr Shola Mos-Shogbaminu, so she can ‘educate’ them – in her inimitable way - how all white people (and most ‘people of colour’ apart from her) are racist. Alternatively, you could give them a book about the rich and varied history of jazz, with a bunch of CDs going right back to Bird, Duke and Louis alongside many others, some white but most black, some British and some from other countries, but most American.


None of this is very PC in the new twenties, where we’re all supposed to be colour blind, but Bishop Tutu believed in the Rainbow – that we should celebrate difference - and Black America deserves the bulk of the credit for America’s greatest artform; and PC is never helpful.  Steve T  


Lance said...

Well this is both interesting and controversial and begs the question as to what defines greatness in jazz or indeed in any other form of endeavour?
Technique, originality all contribute but, at the end of the day, which almighty being declares that Satchmo is greater than Dizzy, Mozart greater than Bach, Ali greater than Marciano, Warhol greater than Rembrandt? The comparisions are endless. To quote GBS: "Of course you're greater than me - you came after me." This might suggest that, retrospectively, the greatest jazz musician of all time was Buddy Bolden!

Brian Shine said...

Public opinion is too varied for titles like the GOAT or top five or ten jazz artists. At the end of the day an opinion is just that, an opinion, that's why no jazz critic should be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

But there has to be at least some objective truth in these things .. for example it would be far fetched to say that Gerry mulligan is better than coltrane , and everyone knows that this wouldn't be true .. even if you prefer Mulligan . It's not just about personal taste.

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