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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.

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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