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Bebop Spoken There

Branford Marsalis: "As ignorance often forces us to do, you make a generalisation about a musician based on one specific record or one moment in time." - (Jazzwise June 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!"


15491 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 512 of them this year alone and, so far, 133 this month (May 31).

From This Moment On ...

Wed 07: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 07: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 07: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 07: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 08: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free. CANCELLED! BACK ON JUNE 15.
Thu 08: Easington Colliery Brass Band @ The Lubetkin Theatre, Peterlee. 7:00pm. £10.00.
Thu 08: Faye MacCalman + Blue Dust Archive @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 08: Dilutey Juice + Ceramic @ The Ampitheatre, Sea Road, South Shields. 7:00pm. Free. A South Tyneside Festival event.
Thu 08: Lara Jones w. Vigilance State @ Lubber Fiend, Blandford Square, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 08: Michael Littlefield @ the Harbour View, Roker, Sunderland. 8:00pm. Free. Country blues.
Thu 08: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 09: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 09: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 09: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 09: Castillo Nuevo @ Revolución de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30-8:30pm.
Fri 09: Emma Rawicz @ Sage Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Sat 10: Miners' Picnic @ Woodhorn, Ashington. Music inc. Northern Monkey Brass Band (3:00-3:50pm); New York Brass Band (4:00-4:55pm).
Sat 10: Front Porch Three @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. Americana, blues, jazz etc.
Sat 10: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.

Sun 11: WORKSHOP: Tim Richards' Jazz Piano Workshop @ JG Windows, Newcastle. Time TBC. Further details tel. 0191 232 1356.
Sun 11: Jeremy McMurray's Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Ropner Park, Stockton TS18 4EF. 2:00-4:00pm. Free.
Sun 11: Am Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:30pm. Free.
Sun 11: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 11: Groovetrain @ Innisfree Sports & Social Club, Longbenton NE12 8TY. Doors 6:30pm. £15.00 (£7.00. under 16).
Sun 11: Jeffrey Hewer Collective @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 12: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 13: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.
Tue 13: Infusion Trio @ Forum Music Centre, Darlington. 7:30pm.
Tue 13: Alice Grace & Pawel Jedrzejewski @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 8:00pm. £12.00 (£10.00. adv.).

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Album review: Walter Smith III & Matthew Stevens – In Common III

Walter Smith III (tenor sax); Matthew Stevens (guitar); Dave Holland (bass) Kris Davis (piano); Terry Lynne Carrington (drums)

I remember seeing Walter Smith III in a group he led in the Northern Rock Hall at Sage Gateshead; Michael Janisch, bassist and Whirlwind label founder, was also in the group. They scorched the varnish off the walls, but Smith made the novice’s mistake of not bring any CDs with him so I bought Banned in London by the pianist Aruan Ortiz instead and that turned out to be a real gem.

But I digress. In Common III is the third in a series that has seen Smith and Stevens meet up with a different rhythm section for each album. This time round a couple of jazz legends in Holland and Carrington have joined in along with Kris Davis who I hadn’t heard of before but who is, on this performance, no slouch whatsoever.

This isn’t a leaders plus rhythm section set up; Davis, Holland and Carrington are part of the group and were, clearly, expected to bring their own ideas and personalities to the session. Their contributions are significant and the album would have been a different, less interesting, beast without them.    

There are 15 tracks on the album, varying in length between 1:40 and 5:30 so you get a lot of what are really sketches. Some are fully fledged tunes whilst others are pieces of electronica that pulse, throb and yowl distractingly but, on occasion serve as an introduction to the next number. I can’t find the composer’s credits so I’m not sure of who is responsible for what.

We get a short intro to the album with Shine, a duet of just Smith and Stephens before track 2, Loping, does what it says on the tin. Carrington’s drumming and extended cymbal splashes creates the space for the others. By way of contrast, Oliver is altogether more knotty and complex with free pianism, electric moans, stabbing sax and wedges of discordant guitar. Hornets gives Davis the space to dance along the line between free playing and bebop and she shows all her strengths in a series of runs, either solo or in duet with Stephens. Again, you notice that it’s what Carrington and Holland aren’t playing, it’s the space, (man)! The brevity of Hornets is one of the album’s major frustrations. Maybe live it is allowed to realise its potential.

Orange Crush has long mournful notes from Smith over frantic piano exercises from Davis. There’s an industrial undertone to her playing, she’s like Charlie Chaplin on the factory floor in Modern Times. After, which follows, is more pastoral, languid and hopeful. It’s spacious and romantic and could be the last dance of the evening.

Lite is more electronica but For Some Time is more human. It’s dominated by the dance between hand drums and piano with the others chipping in round the side. Holland holds it all together.

Variable is another piece of nominative determinism. Variable it is! It’s free with Davis to the fore. Smith has said that “it was written to be played in many tempos, meters and approaches but was not discussed prior to recording it”.

The last two tracks, Familiar and Miserere are in my comfort zone. The former is a melodic piece of bop, with wonderful, wooden drumming from Carrington and the closer is delicate, resigned, if not exhausted. They should play this last in any concert and the last closing note would release all the tension in the audience to, I imagine, thunderous applause.

It’s a teasing, frustrating album in many ways but it has clear strengths and it’s riveting in parts. Even the electronic pieces serve as contrasts to the others and the freer and more mainstream pieces need them as part of the whole. You’d miss them if they weren’t there.  Dave Sayer

Available March 11 on Whirlwind Recordings.

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