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Bebop Spoken There

Ambrose Akinmusire: “ I am certainly always aware of what the masses are doing. And when I see too many people going one way, I'm going another way - even when I don't know what's over that way". DownBeat, March, 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.


16246 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 128 of them this year alone and, so far, 72 this month (Feb. 29).

From This Moment On ...


Mon 04: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 05: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Joe Steels, Paul Grainger, Abbie Finn.

Wed 06: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 06: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 06: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 07: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 07: Ray Stubbs R & B All Stars @ The Schooner, South Shore Road, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Thu 07: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Ragtime piano.
Thu 07: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. Guests: Mark Toomey (alto sax); Donna Hewitt (tenor sax); Garry Hadfield (keys); Ron Smith (bass); Mark Hawkins (drums). 8:30pm.

Fri 08: Noel Dennis Quartet @ The Old Library, Auckland Castle. 1:00pm. £8.00. Noel Dennis (trumpet, flugelhorn); Rick Laughlin (keyboards); Mick Shoulder (double bass); Tim Johnston (drums).
Fri 08: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 08: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free. CANCELLED! Back on March 15.
Fri 08: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.

Sat 09: Alex Fawcett Band + Lindsay Hannon Blues Trio @ Sedgefield Parish Hall. 7:00pm. £15.00. A Sedgefield Rock & Blues Club event. Tickets:
Sat 09: Shunyata Improvisation Group @ Cullercoats Watch House. 8:00pm. Donations. A Watch House renovation fundraising concert.
Sat 09: Ray Stubb’s R&B All Stars @ The Peacock, Sunderland. 6:00pm. Free. Gig in the downstairs bar.

Sun 10: Am Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:30pm. Free.
Sun 10: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 10: Salty Dog @ The Lounge, Blyth. 4:00pm. Free.
Sun 10: Vintage Explosion @ Wylam Brewery, Newcastle.
Sun 10: Fraser Fifield: Secret Path Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 10: Jazz Jam @ Fabio's, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Mon 11: Matthew Forster Quartet @ Yamaha Music School, Seaforth St., Blyth NE24 1AY. 1:00 - 1:45pm. £8.00. + bf.
Mon 11: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 12: Lewis Watson Quartet @ Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. 7:30pm.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Album review: The Fresh Sound Ensemble – Common Threads

Sam Braysher (alto sax); Ronan Perrett (alto sax, clarinet); Alex Merritt, Adele Sauros (tenor sax); Alex Hitchcock (tenor sax, soprano sax); Michael Chillingworth (tenor sax, bass clarinet); Steve Fishwick (trumpet); Tom Ollendorff (guitar); John Turville (piano); Conor Chaplin (bass); Jay Davis (drums).

The Fresh Sounds New Talent label has been going for 30 years now and, in celebration, label head honcho Jordi Pujol decided to record a commemorative album using, mainly, London based musicians, many of whom are familiar to north east audiences from leading or taking part in various bands over the years.

Two dates, in August and October 2022 were organised and this varied 68 minutes is the result.

Day one, with a nonet saw 11 tracks recorded (including an alternate take of El Murcielago) whilst the octet that regrouped in October recorded the remaining three. The music covers a fairly wide modern jazz spectrum. There’s nothing here that feels especially cutting edge or challenging but what it is is very good modern jazz, with good arrangements and players at the top of their game all given the freedom to contribute their best and it’s well produced so that they all have the space to shine. That shouldn’t be taken as faint praise because, amongst its other charms is that this album is a definite grower. I’ve listened to it several times and there’s more to enjoy and appreciate each time so it rewards return visits and I shall be keeping it handy.

I always think that arrangements are crucial when there’s a big small band or a small big band involved. Too often the temptation is to have ‘trio and succession of soloists’ arrangements where half the musicians sit out for much of each tune. This happens on occasion across this album but for much of it the arrangements work the whole band or use an array of instruments in the back ground to support the soloist, to add different tones and colour to the tunes. Track 3, Alex Merritt’s JT and the Planets does this to great effect.

The album opens with  a clarion call of intertwined saxes over a punchy bass line as the track, Erased, builds up to an equally punchy tenor front line behind composer Adele Sauros’ full voiced solo.

Now, if you do want something that sounds like it is part of a blowing session, the non-alternate take of El Murcielago is your man. This is just a romp with Steve Fishwick, who composed the tune, blowing up the proverbial storm. It is a tight, small group arrangement and Fishwick decorates it with flying daggers, (metaphorically). 

After the strangled yelps of Do You Like Apples (better than that description makes it sound) comes another tune by Adele Sauros. Simplicity is a delicate piece that frames Sauros’ solo. Ollendorff provides a lovely Metheny-esque run on the guitar over rolling bass and drums. It’s one you have to lean into and hang on to every note to fully appreciate.

Alex Merritt’s Anita Life (in tribute to Maria Kondo?) is another pile on which shows why Jazz groups can produce an album in a day whilst Pink Floyd take 3 years. Another gentle opening with Merritt's tenor then Ollendorff’s guitar to the fore which suddenly acquires more gravitas with a bomb from Davis on the drums. His rolling mallets(?) support a fuller arrangement from the band. Ollendorff leads but his solo is gradually overwhelmed by a wall of horns. Chillingworth and Fishwick take us out with entwined solos on sax and trumpet whilst Davis lets loose in the background. This is what these sessions should be for.

Asimuth is a Tom Ollendorff composition but his guitar is subdued for much of it behind Michael Chillingworth’s bass clarinet. I always think that the bass clarinet is a bit of a Marmite sound that I tend to avoid where I can. Courtney Pine and Alan Barnes, who both know more about these things than I do, would probably disagree. I could definitely have done with more of Ollendorff’s brief closing solo.

Alex Hitchcock’s Bin Raccoon provides the opportunity for a solo from John Turville over a driving bass from Conor Chaplin whilst the band provide colour in the background. This tune really motors and the arrangement moves the reeds and horn from front to back and back again. It’s probably the best arrangement on the album and shows the strengths of a group of this size.

Points, too, for the album cover design as long as I’m right in thinking that it’s a medical photograph of brainwaves with synapses firing at points of intersection. It’s a good representation of the interplay between the musicians on this album.

More Information about the album, the thinking behind it and the Fresh Sounds New Talent Label’s history can be found HERE. Common Threads is out and  available now from all the usual suspects. The website in the link takes you to the album and there are links on there to other works by the artists brought together for this project. Dave Sayer

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