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Bebop Spoken There

Charles McPherson: “Jazz is best heard in intimate places”. (DownBeat, July, 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.


16590 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 483 of them this year alone and, so far, 29 this month (July 14).

From This Moment On ...


Sun 21: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 21: Salty Dog @ The Globe, Newcastle. 3:00pm.
Sun 21: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free. Sun 21: The Big Easy @ The White Room, Stanley. 5:00pm.
Sun 21: Ben Crosland Quartet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 22: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 23: Nomade Swing Trio @ Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. 7:30pm. £10.00. Tickets from Tully’s of Rothbury or at the door (cash only). A Coquetdale Jazz event.

Wed 24: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 24: Nomade Swing Trio @ Café Needles Eye, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. 6:00pm. Reservations: 01670 641224.
Wed 24: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 24: The Ronnie Scott’s Story @ The Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Wed 24: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 24: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.

Thu 25: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Garry Hadfield (keys); Noel Dennis (tpt); Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Adrian Beadnell (bass).
Thu 25: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.

Fri 26: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 26: Nomade Swing Trio @ Repas7 by Night, Berwick. 7:30pm. Free.
Fri 26: Stuart Turner @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Fri 26: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Fri 26: Bold Big Band @ Old Coal Yard, Byker, Newcastle. 9:30pm. A Newcastle Fringe Festival event.

Sat 27: BBC Proms: BBC Introducing stage @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 12 noon. Free. Line-up inc. Abbie Finn Trio (2:50pm); Dilutey Juice (3:50pm); SwanNek (5:00pm); Rivkala (6:00pm).
Sat 27: Nomade Swing Trio @ Billy Bootlegger’s, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sat 27: Mississippi Dreamboats @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sat 27: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Cafédral, Owengate, Durham. 9:00pm. £9.00. & £6.00. A Durham Fringe Festival event.
Sat 27: Theon Cross + Knats @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 10:00pm. £22.00. BBC Proms: BBC Introducing Stage (Sage Two). A late night gig.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Saving Grace featuring Robert Plant @ Henry Weston Big Top - May 1

Robert Plant (vocals, percussion); Suzi Dian (vocals, accordion, guitar); Matt Worley (various string instruments, vocals); Tony Kelsey (various string instruments, vocals); Oli Jefferson (drums, percussion, vocals).

Every year Cheltenham stretches the boundaries of jazz beyond the recognition of almost everyone, sometimes giving a bog-standard chart act the Great American Songbook to take a stab at, or some other deception. Most festivals do this, but Cheltenham really stretches it, but it gets the crowds in and enables it to get all-sorts of jazz on.


I’ve struggled to make any real connection between Robert Plant and jazz, except I think he contributed to some ‘serious’ music, and – as one of the biggest stars on the planet – I doubt anybody was going to persuade him to do a bunch of Frank Sinatra songs.

Britain’s first great rock band Cream were the amalgamation of a blues wannabe and two established jazz musicians, one of them – years later - claiming they weren’t a rock band but a jazz band. The first and greatest ever American rock bands – Hendrix, Zappa, Beefheart, Santana – were all more or less equal parts blues and jazz, as were the early British progressive rock bands: Soft Machine, Jethro Tull and King Crimson.

By the time we get to Led Zeppelin in 1969, we’re really down to the blues, with an evolving folk influence from around 1971.


Strictly speaking, I was too young for Led Zeppelin, but luckily – or unluckily depending on your point of view – my brother and his mates weren’t, or at least they knew people who weren’t. Led Zeppelin marked a change from the music of my parents and older siblings to the music of my nearest siblings.


This was not a gig for taking notes, wedged into a child’s seat amongst thousands more sardines. It’s worth noting – in this Queen obsessed country – that Robert Plant was the singer in – depending on how you count - the second most successful group ever (behind the Beatles) and the sixth most successful act ever (add Elvis, Michael Jackson, Elton and Madonna).


That was over four decades ago and in recent years he’s found considerable success singing alongside American bluegrass/ folk singer Alison Krause, the only albums I’ve heard by him since Led Zeppelin. I’d assumed Portuguese singer Suzi Dian would simply take the place of Krause but didn’t particularly recognise any of the songs from their two albums. She arrived playing accordion and would later play guitar briefly; it was hardly necessary or audible. Plant is used to playing with three musicians who could create an enormous amount of sound; Rick Wakeman once said that Led Zeppelin sounded like there was ten of them. This band were the same playing amplified acoustic instruments.


The nearest I can think of is When the Levee Breaks which closes the album Led Zeppelin Four Symbols.


After the first song, Matt Worley’s tech swapped his guitar for a banjo and I thought this is the connection to jazz. Plant would later say he used to go to a record shop ran by a John Coltrane expert and – later still – that he’d known many people who smoked folk or jazz cigarettes. He was charismatic, funny and often seemed forgetful but assured us he knew exactly what he was doing, occasionally swearing but without it sounding forced and pathetic.

I listen to lots of white, male singers who I forgive, but he’s one of maybe half a dozen who I actually like. He didn’t scream at all and his voice was deeper than in the seventies, but was still sounding good and held his own against the fabulous Dian. Mostly it was duets but she took the lead on a couple, including one from the last ten years. However, the songs were mostly historic, some even older than the Yardbirds he claimed. One via late twenties country blues titan Blind Willie Johnson, another from Ireland via Kentucky, a cover of a song by California hippies Moby and another from vintage blues artist Memphis Minnie via Donovan.

The music was a mix of southern church music (avoiding the oxymoron white gospel), early blues, country, bluegrass and rock and he observed he’d found himself in a folk group, referencing the Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention and finishing the set with one by one of the Fairport’s favourite alumni Richard Thompson, Dian singing the choruses of Aretha’s Chain of Fools and Bobby Moore’s Searching for my Love, which features on the latest Plant/Krause album.


Finishing time had passed but I imagine, if you’re Robert Plant, such things don’t trouble you, and the audience weren’t going anywhere until we’d had at least a yell from the Led Zeppelin songbook. The encore came and went and we got the five of them huddled at the front of the stage singing something à cappella which I’m guessing was called Goodbye. Still nobody was going anywhere until he begged them to turn the house (big top) lights on.


Everybody seemed to forgive him.  Steve T

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