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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.


16462 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 342 of them this year alone and, so far, 54 this month (May 18).

From This Moment On ...


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: Anth Purdy @ The Links, Blyth. 12:30-1:00pm. Free. ‘Blyth Battery: Blyth Goes to War Weekend’.
Sun 19: Women Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. £25.00. Tutor: Andrea Vicari. Enquiries:
Sun 19: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free. 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.

Sat 25: Tyne Valley Big Band @ Bywell Hall, Stocksfield. 2:30pm.
Sat 25: Paul Edis Trio w. Bruce Adams & Alan Barnes @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 6:30pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sat 25: Nubiyan Twist @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Sat 25: Papa G’s Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

GNBBJF - Saturday March 5 (Open Section)

Saturday's 'open section' (that's senior bands comprising university and regional ensembles), featured no fewer than ten bands engaging in friendly but competitive action at this, the nineteenth edition of the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival. As matters got underway at noon, the adjudicators - Mick Donnelly and Marcus Brown - hunkered down for the long haul. It would be a long day, no, make that two long days, but if you're a big band fan, Chester le Street was the only place to be.        

First up, we were treated to an explosive set from the Newcastle based Bold Big Band (MD Daniel Wilson). Bold by name, bold in approach, trumpeter Danny Wilson's band of students past and present tore into Caravan with alto saxophonist Jacob Lightfoot leading the charge. Japanese Slumber Song isn't your usual big band chart. Written in the eighties by Gareth Wood for brass band, its use of Japanese modes pricked up ears in Park View Community Centre's concert hall. Full marks to the Bold Big Band for including it in the set. MD Wilson suggested First Circle (comp. Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays) would require a degree of concentration. Much hand clapping of tricky time signatures followed, trumpeter Tom Alcorn's lyrical flugelhorn solo giving way to a thrilling, full on blast. The standard - a high standard - had been set. 

Despite having endured two years of lockdown inactivity, the award-winning Durham University Big Band (MD Alex Wardill) wasn't an entirely unknown quantity thanks to a recent resumption of live performance. The word was, the previous winners of the GNBBJF could be in with a shout of taking home some silverware. Bob Florence's demanding Afternoon of a Prawn was a late addition to the set, Wardill unsure if the band could pull it off. Well, the ensemble made a very good fist of it. Similarly, Thad Jones' Us, Chris Smith's Don't Go to Her featuring vocalist Elen Clarke (think Annie Ross meets Norma Winstone) and Kenny Wheeler's Opening made a big impression, all anchored by an impressive rhythm section. 

Lancaster University Big Band (MDs Hannah Bayliss Jamie Payne) arrived with a ten-strong reeds section and what looked like seven trumpets and possibly five 'bones. The stage was so crowded some musicians were partially obscured from view! An unlikely choice in Me and My Shadow featured two vocalists - Isha Robbie and Isobel Craig. Bob Mintzer's Computer highlighted Lancaster's tight ensemble playing. Little did the students know that adjudicator Mick Donnelly had worked with Mintzer!              

MD Dave Hignett is a great supporter of the GNBBJF. His Tyne Valley Big Band is always a joy to listen to. Opening with Children of Sanchez, Chuck Mangione's popular chart is a sure fire winner with audiences and it wasn't any different here at Chester le Street with youthful Sam Armstrong blowing fine flugelhorn. Ain't Nobody (comp. David Wolinski) remains one of Chaka Khan's biggest hits and the TVBB's take on the Youngblood Brass Band's version received a rapturous reception. Those who've heard the band before won't be surprised to learn vocalist Barbara Hignett raised the roof, but few, if any, had heard newcomer, vocalist Zara Holtham. Holtham and Hignett (see photo), they're the new A-Team! 

BwD Big Band (MD Paul Rigby). BwD, that's Blackburn with Darwen, made a welcome return to Chester le Street. Opting for an unconventional arrangement of the horns encircling the rhythm section, brass and reeds hit the heights with Gordon Brisker's arrangement of Bobby Shew's Blue. The band's ace up its sleeve came in the form of Emma Chester (pictured) singing the Carole King-Gerry Goffin-Jerry Wexler hit Natural Woman. Tumultuous applause suggested Ms Chester could be a contender.

Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra (MD Harry Knott). All of twenty plus years ago NUJO won the very first GNBBJF competition. Some ten days ago the 2022 edition of the Tyneside based band warmed up for this year's event with a mammoth jam session featuring NUJO, Edinburgh University Jazz Orchestra and a host of others. In addition, several members of the band are regular participants at Newcastle Arts Centre's popular fortnightly jam session. They were as ready as they were ever going to be. Steven Feifke's arrangement of Until the Real Thing Comes Along introduced vocalist Victoria Smith, Jacob Mann's Baby Carrots reintroduced powerhouse trumpeter Tom Alcorn who is no stranger to Chester le Street, and the band's final number, Bob-omb Battlefield (a Super Mario 64 reference, if you will), featured Tyneside jam session veteran (at the age of twenty something!) Esther Coombes contributing a committed alto sax solo. 

Leeds Conservatoire Student Union Big Band (MD Martin Waters) made a welcome return to Chester le Street with a concise three-number set comprising a contemporary offering - Chris Walden's Arturo - and two staples from the big band repertoire - Hayburner and Straight No Chaser. Walden's composition showcased LCSU Big Band's keen sensitivity to the charts in front of the ensemble, whereas the classic material was handled with due respect, which, on reflection, was perhaps a little too respectful!

Edinburgh University Jazz Orchestra (MD Sarah Smith) came prepared. As principal guests at the recent NUJO jam session on Tyneside, EUJO hit their straps on Black Hole Sun (written by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell, arranged by James Miley) with tenor saxophonist Oskar Jones impressing, just as he'd done some ten days earlier at the aforementioned Newcastle Arts Centre jam session. EUJO's vocal quartet (heard at the recent Newcastle Art Centre's jam session) stepped up with a show-stealing performance of Chattanooga Choo Choo (see photo). Smiles all round, it was impossible not to love it!  

Leeds University Union Big Band (MDs James Tillen & George Rebello) arrived with a familiar looking programme under its collective arm. Originally known as Leeds University Dance Band, a little persuasion convinced the band to change its name to the above (abbreviated to LUU Big Band). Opening with Rhapsody in Blue, LUU Big Band did itself no harm (featured soloists Alex West, tenor sax, Jonny Green, clarinet, and Billy Stanhope, trumpet). Flight of the Foo Birds and an on-the-money Birdland won applause from a now near capacity auditorium. 

The Managers Big Band (MD Ben Shepherd) returned to Park View Community Centre as the reigning champs. The winning band in 2017, 2019 and 2020 (no competition in 2018 and 2021), could the band from Bolton do it again? Opening with Jimmy Webb's bombastic MacArthur Park, the now standing-room-only hall was listening to an outstanding band. Earlier in the day one or two students fancied their chances. Hearing the Bolton band's trumpeter Jay Shepherd blowing, and sustaining, thrilling top C stuff no doubt led to some swift reassessments! Two pieces from Ellington's Far East Suite put further distance between the defending champs and the rest. Emily Burkhardt's clarinet playing (think Jimmy Hamilton!) on Ad Lib on Nippon won huge applause from the packed hall. Putting the boot in further, Jack Looman (trombone) on Amad just about sealed the deal. And then...and then, tenor saxophonist extraordinaire Kyran Matthews delivered the coup de grâce with a stunning piece of musicianship on Malaguena. The Managers' competitors were in the hall to witness this never-to-be-forgotten performance. The bookies weren't taking any more bets. 

After a long, but immensely enjoyable, day, the GNBBJF's adjudicators had reached a verdict. Messrs Mick Donnelly and Marcus Brown took to the stage alongside the presentation party to hear festival director Bill Watson read out the results: 

Adjudicators' award: Female trumpeter (Leeds Conservatoire Union Big Band)
Adjudicators' award: Vocal quartet (Edinburgh University Jazz Orchestra)
Adjudicators' award: Emma Chester, vocals (Blackburn with Darwen Big Band)

Best Programme: Bold Big Band

Best Section: Rhythm Section, Durham University Big Band

Best Soloist: Emily Burkhardt, clarinet (The Managers Big Band)

Best Band: The Managers Big Band   

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