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Bebop Spoken There

Lakecia Benjamin: "From my early days with Clark Terry, he told me 'they see you before they hear you'... I'm just not from that school of thought where I'm gonna wear my jeans and T-shirt on stage and that's going to be respectable." - (Jazzwise, February 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

15056 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 75 of them this year alone and, so far, 75 this month (Jan. 25).

From This Moment On ...

January

Sat 28: Tyneside Improvisers Workshop @ Ye Olde Cross, Ryton. 2:00-4:00pm. All welcome.
Sat 28: Secular Sounds in a Sacred Place @ Holy Cross Church, Ryton. 4:30-7:00pm. £10.00. Continuous performance featuring: Christian Alderson, Faye MacCalman, Sally Pilkington, John Pope. Event preceded by a Tyneside Improvisers Workshop (2:00pm, see above).
Sat 28: Entartete Musik @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. A Brundibár Arts Festival event.

Sun 29: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Spanish City, Whitley Bay. 12 noon.

Sat 28: Revolutionaires @ Brandling Villa, South Gosforth, Newcastle. 9:00pm. Rhythm & blues band.

Sun 29: Musicians Unlimited @ Park Inn, Hartlepool. 1:00pm.
Sun 29: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.
Sun 29: Revolutionaires @ Greens, Low Row, Sunderland. 6:00pm. Rhythm & blues band with a horn section (inc. Pete Tanton).
Sun 29: Hypnotic Brass Band @ Cluny, Newcastle. 7:00pm (doors). £20.00.
Sun 29: Jam No.12 @ Fabio's, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. Durham University Jazz Society jam session. All welcome (students & non-students).
Sun 29: Origin @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 30: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 31: ???

February

Wed 01: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 01: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 01: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 01: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Wed 01: Moonlight Serenade Orchestra UK: Glenn Miller & Big Band Spectacular @ Darlington Hippodrome. 7:30pm.

Thu 02: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 02: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library. 2:30-4:30pm. £1.00. All welcome.
Thu 02: Paul Skerritt Duo @ Tomahawk Steakhouse, High St., Yarm. 8:00pm.
Thu 02: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Book review: Billie Holiday – The Graphic Novel by Ebony Gilbert, David Calcano and Lindsay Lee

That word ‘novel’ carries a lot of baggage here. Of course the most famous fictionalised account of Billie Holiday’s life is her own autobiography Lady Sings The Blues with it’s famous opening, Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was seventeen, and I was three.

Cartoonist Keith Knight provides a raison d’etre for this book in his foreword. It’s about teaching history through comics. ‘Dynamic stories like this need to be told in dynamic ways….Comix do that’ a teacher says.

Like Lady Sings The Blues this biography aims to capture a milieu rather than presenting the life as a series of events and it is graphic in both senses of the word in that it’s a picture book and it doesn’t shy away from depictions of drug use, overt and secondary racism, violence, imprisonment and alcoholism . All of the major musical characters are in there, (Lester Young, Artie Shaw and Count Basie) along with the predators who profited from her talent.

We follow her from prostitution in the back streets to Carnegie Hall through all of her ups and downs, her loves and losses, her adulation in France and being made to ride the hotel’s freight elevator back in the USA because ‘the guests are uncomfortable with negroes taking the public elevator’.

Billie is front and centre in most of the frames; several pictures fill a whole large (25cm x 25cm ) page with full page portraits of Young and Basie in particular. Billie’s in concert pictures are striking, with her surrendering to the music, reaching out, eyes closed. The dominant tones are purple and lilac with occasional splashes of red. Reminisces and flashbacks are in shades of brown sepia.

It is a book that repays a second look. There aren’t many words in it, (probably as many as are in this review) but the images reward a revisit. Whilst the detail is often limited there is an energy and movement to many of the images, not least those covering the violence inflicted on Holiday, both by her manager/lover, Louis Guy, and during her time in prison.

Throughout the book there are listening suggestions highlighted within the story (Easy Living, Them There Eyes, Strange Fruit, God Bless The Child, Good Morning Heartache, All of Me) which should send the reader to their online music provider to help them realise what Lady Day was all about, and why we still care about her, though I cheated and listened to an extended edition of Lady in Satin.

It’s a good idea to represent black icons in a way that makes their lives accessible to new generations and I enjoyed this book more than the last book I read about Billie Holiday (John Szwed’s Billie Holiday – The Musician and the Myth, which is a bit hit and myth). The bibliography at the end of The Graphic Novel refers to With Billie by Julia Blackburn and I would recommend that tome along with Stuart Nicholson’s biography of her if you want a more detailed, and true, telling of the story. Dave Sayer

Billie Holiday – The Graphic Novel by Ebony Gilbert, David Calcano and Lindsay Lee published by Fantoons; Illustrated edition (2021) (ISBN-10:1970047135, ISBN-13:978-1970047134)

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