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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 ...

Thu 01: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 01: Thursday Night Prayer Meeting @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Donations.
Thu 01: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Ragtime piano. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.
Thu 01: Jake Leg Jug Band @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Thu 01: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 02: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 02: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 02: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 02: Joseph Carville Trio @ Saltburn Community Hall. 7:30pm.
Fri 02: Claire Martin & Her Trio @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 7:30pm. £25.00., £20.00. Feat. Jim Mullen, Alex Garnett & Jeremy Brown.
Fri 02: Guy Davis + Michael Littlefield & Scott Taylor @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. Doors 7:30pm. Blues double bill.
Fri 02: Anders Ingram @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Blind Pig Blues Club. Country blues. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.

Sat 03: Newcastle Record Fair @ Northumbria University, Newcastle NE8 8SB. 10:00am-3:00pm. Admission: £2.00.
Sat 03: Pedigree Jazz Band @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington. 12:30pm.
Sat 03: Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Tutor: Sue Ferris. £25.00. Enrol at:
Sat 03: Abbie Finn Trio @ The Vault, Darlington. 6:00pm. Free.
Sat 03: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm. £3.00.
Sat 03: Papa G's Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.

Sun 04: Smokin' Spitfires @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 12:45pm.
Sun 04: Central Bar Quintet @ Central Bar, Gateshead. 2:00-4:00pm. £5.00. The Central Bar Quintet plays Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus. Featuring Lewis Watson.
Sun 04: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 04: Struggle Buggy + Michael Littlefield @ Tyne Bar, Newcastle. 4:00pm. Free. Acoustic blues.
Sun 04: Swinging at the Cotton Club: Harry Strutters' Hot Rhythm Orchestra @ The Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Sun 04: Richard Jones Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 04: Jam No. 18 @ Fabio's Bar, Saddler Street, Durham. 8:00pm. Free. All welcome. A Durham University Jazz Society event.

Mon 05: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 06: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.
Tue 06: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 7:30pm. House trio: Stu Collingwood (piano); Paul Grainger (double bass); Sid White (drums).

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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

John McLaughlin and the Fourth Dimension @ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - May 30

John McLaughlin (guitar, vocal); Gary Husband (Keyboards, drums, vocal); Etienne M’Bappe (bass, vocal); Ranjit Barot (drums, vocal).

This will have most likely been my third and final farewell to John McLaughlin live; notwithstanding him playing live with Zakir Hussain again, bringing his Mahavishnu Orchestra tour to the UK – unlikely, aged 80 – or playing Sage Gateshead  or Newcastle City Hall.


If you read any of the books on John or the MO, there seems to be two threads common to all of them: that anyone who saw the original MO thought it was all him, rather than him exchanging solos with violinist Jerry Goodman and keyboardist Jan Hammer, and that their lives were changed by it. Both are true of me and while, as an eleven year old hairy – to use the vernacular of the time – I would never claim it was anything other than way over my head, I knew it was a level of musicianship way beyond anything I’d come across up to that point.


Plenty of old hairies at the Bridgewater and plenty of applause for solos, suggesting a strong jazz contingency, and of course the guitar community always turn up. Unfortunately the sound people didn’t seem to have checked upstairs and we got muffled introductions and diminished guitar whenever the drummer was playing. So it’s a drum and bass show said somebody behind me as we went into the interval.


In amongst the mush, there was lots of konnakol singing from drummer Ranjit Barot, a fine bass solo and a drum solo from keyboardist Gary Husband, like Barot needed any help!  


Pieces included Pharaoh Sanders' The Creator Has a Master Plan, which featured on an album he did with Carlos Santana almost half a century ago; Gaza City from this band's 2015 album Black Light, but sounding to these ears like a hangover from the eighties when John, Miles, Weather Report and other post jazz-rock fusion acts were making a heavily keyboard laden variety of smooth jazz; and his tribute to Paco De Lucia, the other constant member of his acoustic trios and – in my view – his nearest rival as a guitarist, enjoying god-like statues amongst guitar communities including flamenco and gypsy jazz.


I approached the staff who said they would sort out the sound but Mrs T intervened to see if they could move us into the stalls and – all credit to them – they did.


The second set was more of the same but this time we got a drum duel, which was quite electrifying, and another serious bass solo which was more fluid and melodic than the usual slapping we seem to have had for years now. Love and Understanding from his One Truth Band’s only album Electric Dreams (1979) seems to have become a live favourite and featured an impressive vocal coda by the four of them. I recognized the final piece but didn’t want to trawl through all the albums by him I know to identify, but I have been through the first MO album The Inner Mounting Flame to identify the encore as You Know You Know. Theyd played it at the Southbank Centre the first time I saw this band, which was the first indication there could be a MO revival, which resulted in the American tour. It’s hard to tell why he selected this particular piece and I was slightly disappointed that he’d stuck with it, though sections of the audience were clearly ecstatic.


While he may not still quite manage the estimated eleven notes per second, it’s absolutely astounding that he can still play at this level. Naturally his detractors will always blame him for what they refer to as the guitar Olympics, but he was hardly the first guitarist to try to play lots of notes quickly, not to mention countless jazz trumpeters, saxophonists, pianists, bass players, drummers…


Not many detractors there as they received rapturous applause, an all but unanimous standing ovation and some isolated  worship. I’m so pleased we got to hear the second half of what will likely be my last ever John McLaughlin concert. A man I consider the most important jazz musician since John Coltrane, the greatest artist this country has ever produced in any musical field and – all things considered – the greatest guitarist of all time. Steve T         

1 comment :

Chris Kilsby said...

Steve - many thanks for the review - sad to think we may be coming to the end of days as far as John McLaughlin (JM) is concerned, remarkable as it is he is still playing at this level at age 80, when other, younger, giants have tragically been silenced (e.g. Jarrett's stroke at 73).

I'd better comment on Steve's characteristically bold closing claims on JM's prominence before we're swamped with naysayers! Recognising the futility of "greatest" labelling, I broadly agree with Steve's assessment of greatest axe-man of all time, with the exception of Hendrix who was a wild card beyond comparisons. JM's 70s canon on its own places him in the top echelon, as I am satisfied that his all round musicianship (rhythmic, harmonic, stylistic) and innovation is key here rather than the obvious notes-per-second his detractors focus on. Rolling Stone magazine ranks JM a laughable 68th, while revelling in breath taking cognitive dissonance referring to "guitar-god status", "peerless" and Jeff Beck's rating of JM as "the best guitarist alive."

Steve's other claims of "most important since Trane" and "greatest UK musical artist" are however as bold as they are beyond any reasoned argument.... Leaving aside subjective taste and chronology (Trane died in 67?) there are strong claims from others of the Miles alumni club (Hancock, Jarrett, Zawinul) who spawned their own strands, or Kenny Wheeler and Pat Metheny who have been massively influential. As for greatest Brit, aside from the Fab Four (!) I give you Elgar, Du Pre, John Ogdon et al.

Regardless of my gentle testing of Steve's enthusiastic statements - I do feel that McLaughlin's long term genius and contribution to jazz (or whatever you want to call it) has become under-recognised in recent years, perhaps due to his Monaco domicile and infrequent exposure. I'd love to hear some more celebration of his music. Any local young guns up for 50 year anniversaries of Mahavishnu Orchestra albums? Chris K

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