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Bebop Spoken There

Abbie Finn: "Even though there's a lot of great work being done to promote women in jazz, I still come up against some attitudes! I pulled up at a recording session with my drums in the car and the studio owner said, 'I'm sorry, this space is reserved for the drummer!'" - (Jazzwise April 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!"

Postage

15260 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 279 of them this year alone and, so far, 92 this month (March 29).

From This Moment On ...

April
Sat 01: The Big Easy @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington. 12:30pm.
Sat 01: Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Tutor: Steve Glendinning - In a Minor Key. £25.00. Enrol at: www.jazz.coop.
Sat 01: Abbie Finn Trio @ The Vault, Darlington Covered Market, Darlington DL1 5PN. 6:00pm. New venue, live jazz!
Sat 01: Jambone @ Sage Gateshead. 7:00pm. Free (book online). A YMP! event in the Northern Rock Foundation Hall.
Sat 01: Jude Murphy & Dan Stanley @ Prohibtion Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.
Sat 01: Boys of Brass @ Stack, Seaburn. 7:00-9:00pm.
Sat 01: Hot Club du Nord @ Pleased to Meet You, Bridge St., Morpeth. 8:00pm. £79.00. A charity fundraising event.
Sat 01: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm. £3.00. RESCHEDULED to next week (Sat 08).

Sun 02: Smokin' Spitfires @ The Cluny. 12:45pm.
Sun 02: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.

Mon 03: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 04: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.
Tue 04: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 7:30pm. House trio: Bradley Johnston (guitar); Paul Grainger (double bass); Abbie Finn (drums).

Wed 05: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 05: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 05: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 05: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 06: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 06: Thursday Night Prayer Meeting @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Donations. Feat. John Pope, Marie Shreer, John Garner.
Thu 06: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibtion Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Ragtime piano. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.
Thu 06: Darlington Big Band @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Note earlier start time.

Fri 07: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 07: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 07: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 07: Gaz Hughes Trio @ Saltburn Community Hall. 7:30pm.
Fri 07: Mark Toomey Quartet @ Traveller's Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. £8.00.
Fri 07: Finntet + Zoë Gilby & Andy Champion @ Bobik's, Punch Bowl, Newcastle. 8:00pm. JNE.
Fri 07: TBA @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig. Blind Pig Blues Club.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Album review: Asaf Harris: Walk of the Ducks

Asaf Harris (tenor/soprano sax); Nitzan Bar (guitar); Guy Moskovich (piano); Omri Hadani (double bass); David Sirkis (drums)

The first of two new albums on my to do list from BSH Editor in Chief, both from Israeli artists, offering an opportunity to reflect on the phenomenal jazz talent emerging from Tel Aviv and often achieving breakthrough in NYC and Europe.  The case in point here is the young sax player Asaf Harris making his debut on Ubuntu, with a band full of yet more talented Israeli players previously unknown to me.

Harris joins a several decades long list of compatriots such as Avishai Cohen (x2 – bass and trumpet), pianists Shai Maestro, Yonathan Avishai, Nitai Hershkovits and Anat Fort; Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Omer Avital (bass), drummers Ofri Nehemya, Asaf Sirkis, Ziv Ravitz and Anat Cohen (clarinet).  The Israeli style, if there is such a thing, is a melting pot of music from “Poland to Morocco”, drawing heavily on Arab and Middle Eastern folk idioms, strongly melodious and emotional, often in odd (to Western ears at least) meters.  This flow of talent leads to claims that “Israel is a true jazz superpower, with around 200 – and counting – musicians currently based in New York and dotted around Europe”  (LINK).

Starting with bass player Avishai Cohen’s catchy and wholesome brand of melodic Middle Eastern groove (e.g. 2011 Seven Seas), my own enjoyment of the genre has deepened with the distinctive voices of trumpeter Avishai Cohen (Playing the Room) and the and subtle compositions of Shai Maestro (Human).  

On the evidence of his debut here, Harris is a worthy addition to this remarkable lineage. His music is strongly and distinctively programmed, with memorable phrases, and while the “eastern” folk flavour is mostly absent, instead they deliver confident contemporary “power-jazz” alternating with calmer classical tinged acoustic passages. The band already have a distinctive voice, with game playing, dynamics and stop-starts keeping the listener guessing, as well as some glorious flat out blowing on sax and guitar.

The opening tracks Helen Court 2020 Movement I and II, refer to Harris’ home in Brooklyn. This must have been a hell of a place, as the music evokes drama to my ears completely inconsistent with a “home” – I guess he was inspired by the Covid crisis and street protests. Harris’ smooth, powerful tone opens, builds gradually with angular guitar solo and frenetic drumming to a climax more Brecker than Shorter. The second movement luxuriates with cinematic arpeggiated piano and sultry sax.

The Gate Keeper opens and closes with recordings of a street protest in Israel, reminding us of the other side of life in Israel. This merges with an exhilarating drum solo and on to a jaunty, fast-paced and subtle whole band workout. The excellent Reconnecting coolly states a melodic fragment on breathy sax, and then works it over, swapping lead between over-driven plangent guitar and sax, by turns impassioned and soothing.

The title track was inspired by a family of ducks walking the street in Tel Aviv. While I can imagine the ducks waddling along to the opening angular rhythm, they must have taken off at supersonic speed to invoke the later proggy blistering guitar runs and sax, reminiscent of Soft Machine in their pomp, with Nitzan Bar’s Allan Holdsworth homage to the fore.

Zoom Out is a refreshing contrast, showing these guys can swing, while the very strong Will She Shine? is a more intellectual study, with probing clean guitar stealing the show over some Ben Wendell flavoured tenor.  The closing Five Years Old starts straight out of the Avishai Cohen  play book with piano riff in 5, and packs achingly beautiful guitar, tenor and piano solos into a delightful and accessible 9 mins.

Altogether an exciting,  confident and distinctive album with enough subtlety, passion and groove for all listeners to find something to revel in.  One to enjoy now, as well as to look out for the next episode! Chris K

Release Date: 6 May 2022,  CD & Digital Formats Ubuntu UBU0109

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