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Bebop Spoken There

Art Blakey: "You [Bobby Watson] don't want to play too long, because you don't know they're clapping because they're glad you finished!" - (JazzTimes, Nov. 2019)..

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!"


15848 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 855 of them this year alone and, so far, 53 this month (Sept. 18).

From This Moment On ...


Sat 23: Tyne Valley Big Band @ Tanfield Railway, Gateshead. 2:00-4:00pm. Free. A '1940s Weekend' event.
Sat 23: Jason Isaacs @ Stack, Seaburn. 3:30-5:30pm. Free.
Sat 23: Andrew Porritt & Keith Barrett @ Cullercoats Watch House, Front St., Cullercoats NE30 4QB. 7:00pm.
Sat 23: Michael Woods @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig. Country blues.

Sun 24: Musicians Unlimited @ Park Inn, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 24: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.

Mon 25: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 25: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 7:00pm.

Tue 26: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.

Wed 27: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 27: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 27: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 28: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 28: Alice Grace Quartet @ King's Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Free.
Thu 28: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm. All welcome.
Thu 28: Faye MacCalman + Snape/Sankey @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 28: Zoe Rahman @ Jesmond United Reformed Church, Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Thu 28: '58 Jazz Collective @ Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool. 7:30pm.
Thu 28: Speakeasy @ Queen's Hall, Hexham. 7:30pm. £15.00. A Southpaw Dance Company presentation. Dance, audio-visuals, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, swing dancers etc.
Thu 28: Mick Cantwell Band @ Harbour View, Sunderland. 8:00pm. Free. Ace blues band.
Thu 28: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 29: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 29: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 29: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Acoustic Infusion feat Richie Emmerson play the Grover Washington Jnr Sessions @ Darlington Forum - March 8

(© John Ristway)
Richie Emmerson (tenor, soprano, alto sax); Alan Thompson (tenor, soprano sax); Rick Laughlin (keys, arranger); Ian Halford (Drums).

When reviewing something like this, one never knows whether you are just reviewing the gig, whether you should discuss the original artist and – in this case - whether you want to take on the whole electric, smooth, crossover, jazz, funk, rock, fusion controversy.


Inadvertently seeing the original Mahavishnu Orchestra as an eleven year old rocker in 1973 notwithstanding, jazz-funk was my introduction to jazz, through its infiltration of northern soul with tracks by George Benson, Hubert Laws and others, to the split with northern soul circa 1977. Grover was as big a name as any, including established masters like Herbie and Donald Byrd and acts whose ascendency coincided with their switch to jazz-funk, like the Jazz/ Crusaders and Bob James. The genre (or sub-genre) has been much maligned over the years, though we were totally unaware of it at the time.  


Emmerson claimed that, as a saxophonist,  Grover can stand with anyone you can think of and, with a handful of exceptions, I wouldn’t disagree. Nowadays it seems acceptable to claim he was particularly impressive on soprano and a century of jazz hasn’t produced too many who can make that claim.


As I once said of Kamasi Washington; just because he isn’t John Coltrane, doesn’t mean he’s Kenny G. It’s pretty undeniable that, without Grover, Kenny G couldn’t have amassed his vast wealth, though it doesn’t follow that Grover has to take the blame. I had become cynical about the whole thing long before then, largely due to my discovery of Sonny Rollins at the fag end of the seventies, but would return to the fold years later when I grew up and realised it was okay to like both. Not that I was entirely wrong and I would argue there’s a world of distance between jazz-funk and smooth jazz, though the roots of the latter are undeniably there even as the former got going.     


However, to accept that acoustic jazz is automatically superior to electric jazz would be akin to accepting that classical music is always better than jazz or jazz is always better than soul and funk, and that would never do.


The gig itself was fantastic: certainly that was the view of my company but a table of relative youngsters demonstrably seemed to agree and the applause and response of those even older than us confirmed it was unanimous. The Forum is a great venue too and each table was occupied with somewhere between a couple of dozen to thirty jazz-funkers in attendance.


This was the first time they’d used the twin sax approach and the first time keyboardist Rick Laughlin had handled the bass parts. The set was drawn mostly from three albums: Mister Magic (1975), Reed Seed (1978) and Winelight (1980) as well as Grover’s take on Bill Withers’ Ain’t no Sunshine, Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island and a suitable variation of Summertime giving a nod to the tradition..


The interplay between the two front men was impressive, alternating and harmonising, sometimes both on tenor, sometimes both on soprano and sometimes Emmerson on tenor and Thompson on soprano. Although mostly known for tenor and soprano, Grover also played alto and baritone on occasion and Emmerson’s extended alto solo on Make me a Memory was a highlight of the night.


While I love Bill Withers, I never cared much for Just the Two of Us - Grover’s hit – but an instrumental version was none the less a pleasant surprise and would have kept the crossover crowd happy, had they shown up. At one point during encore Black Frost, when Thompson came in, I felt he caught Grover’s creeping sound precisely but then Emmerson came blasting in and I thought that was Grover exactly too.


Halford’s drumming was solid throughout and Laughlin switched effortlessly between fairly close approximations of acoustic and Fender Rhodes sounds, the latter an essential ingredient of the period. Some lovely textures during Winelight. The bass parts worked well enough, though nothing quite says ‘funk’ like a real live bass guitar and it would be great if they could do Sausalita from the Live at the Bijou album (1977), which seems to have become his biggest piece on the jazz-funk retro scene, if anybody knows a guitarist.


The first time I saw Santana I vowed I’d never miss them again and I said the same the first time I saw Swing Out Sister and I’m now adding this to the list. Steve T.

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