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Bebop Spoken There

Raymond Chandler: “ I was walking the floor and listening to Khatchaturian working in a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I called it a loose fan belt and the hell with it ". The Long Goodbye, Penguin 1959.

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.

Postage

16350 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 230 of them this year alone and, so far, 27 this month (April 11).

From This Moment On ...

April

Tue 16: The Horne Section’s Hit Show @ Middlesbrough Town Hall. 7:30pm.
Tue 16: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Bradley Johnston, Paul Grainger, Bailey Rudd.

Wed 17: Bailey Rudd (Minor Recital) @ The Music Studios, Haymarket Lane, Newcastle University. 11:40am. Bailey Rudd (drums). Open to the public.
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: The Horne Section’s Hit Show @ The Gala, Durham. 7:30pm. SOLD OUT!
Wed 17: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 18: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 18: NONUNONU @ Elder Beer Café, Chillingham Road, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Thu 18: Knats @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. 8:00pm (doors 7:30pm). £8.00. + bf. Support act TBC.
Thu 18: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Ragtime piano.
Thu 18: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guest band night with Just Friends: Ian Bosworth (guitar); Donna Hewitt (sax); Dave Archbold (keys); Ron Smith (bass); Mark Hawkins (drums).

Fri 19: Cia Tomasso @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. ‘Cia Tomasso sings Billie Holiday’. 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: Tweed River Jazz Band @ The Radio Rooms, Berwick. 7:00pm (doors). £5.00.
Fri 19: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Seventeen Nineteen, Hendon, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Fri 19: Levitation Orchestra + Nauta @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors). £11.00.
Fri 19: Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 8:00pm. ‘Ella & Ellington’.

Sat 20: Record Store Day…at a store near you!
Sat 20: Bright Street Band @ Washington Arts Centre. 6:30pm. Swing dance taster session (6:30pm) followed by Bright Street Big Band (7:30pm). £12.00.
Sat 20: Michael Woods @ Victoria Tunnel, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Acoustic blues.
Sat 20: Rendezvous Jazz @ St Andrew’s Church, Monkseaton. 7:30pm. £10.00. (inc. a drink on arrival).

Sun 21: Jamie Toms Quartet @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm.
Sun 21: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 21: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Holy Grale, Durham. 5:00pm.
Sun 21: The Jazz Defenders @ Cluny 2. Doors 6:00pm. £15.00.
Sun 21: Edgar Rubenis @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Blues & ragtime guitar.
Sun 21: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 21: Art Themen with the Dean Stockdale Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £10.00. +bf. JNE. SOLD OUT!

Mon 22: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

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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