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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.


16573 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 466 of them this year alone and, so far, 12 this month (July 7).

From This Moment On ...


Sun 14: OUTRI + Slowlight Quartet @ The Bandstand, The Sele, Hexham. 12 noon-2:00pm. Free. OUTRI is Ian ‘Dodge’ Paterson’s new solo bass project. ‘The Bandstand Sessions’.
Sun 14: Jazz Stage @ Mouth of the Tyne Festival. Free. Rendezvous Jazz (12 noon); Delta Prophets Trio (1:35pm); Abbie Finn Trio (3:10pm); River City Band (4:40pm).
Sun 14: MSK @ Tynemouth Metro Station. 1:00pm. Free. A Mouth of the Tyne Festival event.
Sun 14: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 14: Am Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sun 14: Jamil Sheriff’s Five Gold Rings @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm.
Sun 14: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free. Sun 14: Lounge Lizards + King Bees @ The Tyne Bar, Newcastle. 3:00pm. Free. The Tyne Bar’s 30th anniversary, top class blues double bill.
Sun 14: Richard Herdman @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. CANCELLED!

Mon 15: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 15: Nathan Lawson Trio @ The Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. £8.00. Blaydon Jazz Club.

Tue 16: Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Victoria & Albert Inn, Seaton Terrace, Seaton Delaval NE25 0AT. 12:30pm. £15.00 (tel: 0191 237 3697). Summer BBQ in the Beer Graden.
Tue 16: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Alan Law, Paul Grainger & Abbie Finn.

Wed 17: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 17: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 17: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 17: John Pope & John Garner + Nisha Ramayya @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors). £15.00. (£12.00. adv.). A Gem Arts Masala Festival event.

Thu 18 Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Brunswick Methodist Church, Newcastle NE1 7BJ. 2:30pm. £4.00.
Thu 18: Theo Croker @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Thu 18: Brad Linde’s Continentals @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Thu 18: Eva Fox & the Jazz Guys @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 18: Ray Stubbs R&B All Stars @ The Mill Tavern, Hebburn. 8:00pm. Rhythm & blues.
Thu 18: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guest band: Darlington Big Band.

Fri 19: Luis Verde with the Dean Stockdale Trio @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. SOLD OUT!
Fri 19: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 19: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 19: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 19: Luis Verde with the Dean Stockdale Trio @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. Opus 4 Jazz Club.
Fri 19: Zoë Gilby Trio @ Seventeen Nineteen, Hendon, Sunderland. 7:30pm.

Sat 20: Snake Davis & Helen Watson Duo @ Chopwell Community Centre NE17 7HZ. 7:30pm. £17.50.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Album review: Lakecia Benjamin – Phoenix

Just look at the cover. This is an outfit beyond glam, beyond the stars, even beyond the Sun Ra Arkestra. It makes the Rio carnival dancers look like Liz Truss in a tank. The perfect introduction, you would think to some poppy, smooth jazz and my first response with a fear that it would be like Kenny G, but with the rough bits smoothed off, was “Please let it be good. She can wear what she likes, but let it be good. It’s on Whirlwind so it must be good.” And it’s not good, it’s a whole lot better than that for this is Afro –Futurism, this is protest music with drive and flair that grabs you by the ears makes you sit down and listen. Benjamin’s previous tributes to both John and Alice Coltrane attest to her love of their music but influences can also be detected from the wider Coltrane musical ‘family’ of Pharaoh Sanders and Eric Dolphy and there is also more than a nod to the Emperor of Afro-Futurism himself, Sun Ra, and his current leading acolyte Kamasi Washington.

Opener Amerikkan Skin is built over a forceful, insistent bass from Ivan Taylor, Josh Evans on trumpet spitting out shards and challenging Benjamin’s alto as she acquits herself with equal force. It includes a spoken word introduction from Angela Davis, the American political activist, philosopher, academic, and author, “Revolutionary hope resides precisely amongst those women who have been abandoned by history. This is not the way things are supposed to be. It might be the way they are now but that is not the way they are supposed to be.” This is the agenda for the album. This is not supposed to be easy listening.

New Mornings is a song for spring. It is hopeful and optimistic, but tentative as well. A rumbling bass line underpins lilting fluid solos from Benjamin and Evans. Benjamin, especially, plays with elegance and shows she can make an impact without the need to strip the paint off the walls every time she raises the horn to her lips.

Title track, Pheonix, opens with chants that lead into a soul funk groove and features a complex, knotty, searching, wailing solo from Benjamin. The synths from Georgia Anne Muldrow get a bit Rick Wakeman-y at times but the sax redeems it.

Mercy, featuring Dianne Reeves has been getting a lot of love on JazzFM lately. It’s another positive morning song. We are encouraged to ‘Turn the Page, And start anew’. There’s string quartet added to the mix as well to make it even lusher but Benjamin’s solo pierces through the clouds to lift the spirits.

Peace is a Haiku Song features Sonia Sanchez intoning her own poem over frantic ferocious bass playing. She covers war, ecology, equalities and death in a brisk three and a half minutes, calling out to all men and women and all the natural elements, before it flows into its sister piece in Moods with the band reassembled. There are so many levels here as Sanchez continues her eulogy, behind a thumping piano motif over which Benjamin’s sax soars, optimistically, as if she truly believes that the positive message of unity in the poem can come about.

Moods is a snappy, finger clicking continuation of that positivity, Benjamin’s solo is all loops, twists and trills (this woman can REALLY play!), and Evans follows her at the same level.

Rebirth as you might expect from the title is another new morning, a lovely blues that allows Victor Gould to play some notes during a lyrical solo. Benjamin’s solo of looong notes reminded me of the mood of Gil Scott Heron’s And I think I'll call it morning from now on with its relaxed positivity and hopefulness, as if the end has been achieved and it’s time to spend time with the neighbours and relax into a new dawn.

Trane wears its influences in plain sight opening, as it does, with the boldness we know from the opening Acknowledgement from A Love Supreme. Benjamin seems to be reaching for the same spiritual plane and the arrangement, of all the band seeming to play both loose and tight creates a very powerful statement. 

Basquiat is a tribute to the artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat which is a wild as his hair (see HERE) and allows for some energetic blowing.

We return to Amerikkan Skin for the album’s close. Angela Davis returns to deliver her opening words. The band take us out, all rolling drum patterns holding it all together as piano and bass throw shapes, Benjamin solos and the final notes are allowed to fade away on the wind.

I see from the adverts that she is on this month’s Jazzwise magazine cover so her star is obviously rising. Pheonix is released on Jan. 27 (vinyl on  April 21) through all the usual outlets and in all formats. There is more information about Lakecia Benjamin HERE on her website, including a soon to start world tour that brings her to the UK for only one date at the Jazz Café in Camden. I’m so impressed with this album that I’ve bought a ticket. Dave Sayer

Lakecia Benjamin (Alto sax, vocals, synths, sound design); Josh Evans (Trumpet); Victor Gould (Keyboards); Orange Rodriguez (Synthesizers); Enoch (EJ) Strickland (Drums); Nêgah Santos (Percussion); Ivan Taylor (Bass); Wallace Roney Jr (Trumpet on Blasts); Anastassiya Petrova (Rhodes organ on Jubilation); Jahmal Nichols (Bass on New Mornings); Patrice Rushen (Piano and Vocals on Jubilation); Dianne Reeves (Vocals on Mercy): Georgia Anne Muldrow (vocals and synthesiser on Pheonix); Sonia Sanchez (Poet on Peace is a Haiku Song and Blast); Angela Davis (Spoken Word on Amerikkan Skin); Wayne Shorter (Spoken word on Supernova).

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