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Bebop Spoken There

Dee Dee Bridgewater: “ Our world is becoming a very ugly place with guns running rampant in this country... and New Orleans is called the murder capital of the world right now ". Jazzwise, May 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.


16462 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 342 of them this year alone and, so far, 54 this month (May 18).

From This Moment On ...


Sun 19: BTS Trombone Day @ Mark Hillery Arts Centre, Collingwood College, Durham University DH1 3LT. 11:00am-5:00pm. Free to British Trombone Society members (£10.00. & £5.00. to non-members). Recitals, workshops and mass blows.
Sun 19: Anth Purdy @ The Links, Blyth. 12:30-1:00pm. Free. ‘Blyth Battery: Blyth Goes to War Weekend’.
Sun 19: Women Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. £25.00. Tutor: Andrea Vicari. Enquiries:
Sun 19: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free. Sun 19: Ransom Van @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 19: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 19: Andrea Vicari Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 20: Harmony Brass @ the Crescent Club, Cullercoats. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 20: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 6:00-8:00pm. Free. Opus de Funk: Horace Silver.
Mon 20: Joe Steels-Ben Lawrence Quartet @ The Black Bull, Blaydon. 8:00pm. £8.00.

Tue 21: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Alan Law, Paul Grainger, John Bradford.

Wed 22: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 22: Alice Grace Vocal Masterclass @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 6:00pm. Free.
Wed 22: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 22: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 22: Daniel Erdmann’s Thérapie de Couple @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.

Thu 23: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 23: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 23: Castillo Nuevo Trio @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30pm. Free.
Thu 23: Immortal Onion + Rivkala @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 23: The Doris Day Story @ Phoenix Theatre, Blyth. 7:30pm.
Thu 23: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Jeremy McMurray (keys); Dan Johnson (tenor sax); Donna Hewitt (alto sax); Bill Watson (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass).

Fri 24: Hot Club du Nord @ The Gala, Durham. 1:00pm. £8.00. SOLD OUT!
Fri 24: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 24: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 24: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 24: Swannek + support @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle. Time TBC.

Sat 25: Tyne Valley Big Band @ Bywell Hall, Stocksfield. 2:30pm.
Sat 25: Paul Edis Trio w. Bruce Adams & Alan Barnes @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 6:30pm. A Northumberland Jazz Festival event.
Sat 25: Nubiyan Twist @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Sat 25: Papa G’s Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Album Review: Louis Stewart - Out On His Own

Louis Stewart (guitar).

The Irish jazz bass player, Ronan Guilfoyle who played with Louis Stewart on a regular basis during the early 1980s, has written about the first time he ever saw him and heard him play in 1972. Aged 14, his father took him to a jazz party and said that Stewart was the 'greatest jazz musician Ireland had ever produced' and even at that young age Guilfoyle recognised the guitarist was something special and that night is indelibly inscribed in his memory.

I had a similar experience a couple of years earlier in 1970, also as a young teenager, when a couple of organisers of our local folk club, who were great jazz fans, invited Stewart to play at the club in the village hall (see poster). They told me and other club members that he was a brilliant jazz guitarist and had recently been voted best soloist at the Montreux Jazz Festival, an accolade we added to our home made posters for the gig. As promised his playing was mesmerising and since I had never heard an electric guitar live before, or at such close quarters, the effect was staggering and unforgettable.

Over the years I have heard many jazz fans tell similar stories of how they were blown away the first time they heard Louis Stewart play in the late '60s and early '70s. At that time it didn't matter that we knew very little about the details of jazz, the effect of hearing him play was (almost literally) electrifying. He seemed to play effortlessly yet with such power and beauty and unbelievably, there we were listening to him - live - in pubs and clubs - and in our own home town!

Even though we were just young fans and he was an internationally known jazz guitarist, like everyone else we knew him as ‘Louis’.

Therefore to receive a copy of the newly re-mastered edition of his first solo album ‘Out On His Own’ is a real joy. While I bought the original vinyl album in 1977 when it was first issued and the initial CD in 1985, I have not listened to either for quite some time, not because I no longer like the music but more because quite a lot of other albums and CDs have flowed under my musical bridge since then. This remastered CD is the perfect encouragement to listen to Ireland’s ‘greatest jazz musician’  again and it is a wonderful reminder of the fluency and lyrical quality of his playing.

The original LP was first released in 1977 when Louis Stewart was at a peak of his musical powers and it has always been widely regarded as a solo masterpiece. The recording was organised by the Dublin painter and great friend, Gerald Davis, who set up his label Livia Records specifically for this purpose.With this new release it is great to know that the label is being revived with the support of the families of Gerald Davis and Louis Stewart and more releases are planned.

While this is a solo album different tracks remind me of how he used play live when with a band: the rhythmic invention and drive of his guitar as other musicians soloed around it, the lyrical picking out of a tune as an intro before the band came in, the daring chordal sequences and, of course, the rippling melodic solos. This is not to suggest that somehow this album is missing something or made up of fragments; it is entirely the opposite. Each track is complete in itself but also related to the greater whole of the album.

Seven of the 19 tracks on the album have Louis playing an accompanying rhythm track for the particular tune and as Cormick Larkin, who wrote the liner notes says, 'It is clear (as he was doing this) Louis was already hearing the shape of the solos he would play over them'. One has only to listen to the complexity of the rhythmic changes to know what he says is true.

Each track is a shimmering diamond compressed in the musical imagination of this great virtuoso. Some, like a number of the double-tracked pieces, are held up to the light as Louis examines the different musical possibilities of each facet. In Make Someone Happy he explores different guitarists' styles without missing a beat, something I remember him doing regularly in live performance. The two bossa novas, Blue Bossa and Wave, he played often but here sound as swingingly fresh and inventive as ever. Darn that Dream was definitely a favourite of Louis with Cormac Larkin writing that it was one ‘he knew like the back of his slender hands’ and that he mines ‘the familiar chord sequences for hidden treasures’ and yes, it’s another diamond.  

The playing on Stella by Starlight is the kind of perfectly constructed flowing soloing you might have heard coming at you as you went downstairs in some pub or club in Dublin to one of his gigs and you would think ‘This is the right place!’

On the other hand I’m Old Fashioned is a master class of the chordal melody.

Louis's love for the playing of Stan Getz was developed as a teenager when he went with a showband to New York to play weekends at Irish-American dances as he spent all his free nights in Birdland listening to him. This comes through in his playing on Chick Corea's Windows and his phrasing has hints of Getz’s version of the tune. Another of Louis’s favourite jazz musicians, Bill Evans, is reflected in his interpretation of Leonard and Martin’s waltz I’m All Smiles.

I must say I do not recall ever hearing Louis Stewart play any traditional pieces of music but he does here and it’s a real treat. The tune She Moves Through the Fair seems to have attracted many fine guitarists over the years, Rory Gallagher, Bert Jansch and Davy Graham being among those who have recorded it. Louis’s version is the shortest piece on the CD but he creates a delightful musical haiku.

Bass player Steve Swallow’s General Mojo’s Well Laid Plan is the most contemporary piece on the album (from 1967) and whenever he performed it the light and playful melody used always make me smile - and it still does.

One tune I still remember Louis playing the first time I heard him at our local club was The Shadow of Your Smile and I was enchanted by the harmonics he drew from the strings. Here he does the same with a beautiful version of Lazy Afternoon.

He could always produce a proper blues sound in his playing when he wished so it's great to hear the track here just called Blues which he apparently improvised on the day of the recording.

‘Out On His Own’ should have been the LP of the year when it first came out in 1977 but if it wasn’t then definitely this year!

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but these musical diamonds are forever. JC

This new re-mastered version of ‘Out On His Own’ is released on 24 February 2023 on Livia Records and includes a detailed 16 page booklet on his musical background and career with some brilliant early photographs.


Russell said...

A great review and knowing you're in possession of good ears, I'm going to order a copy!

Maurice Summerfield said...

Good to hear this recording will be available again, and in an extended version. I enjoyed JC's appreciative review. Louis is one of my favouritejazz guitarists. I was fortunate to meet him a few times both in Newcastle and in London. He was a quiet but very warm personality. He did have, at one time in the 1970-80s, a weakness for alcohol. But no matter how much he consumed it never affected the quality of his guitar playing. He also made some excellent recordings with George Shearing in a trio format on MPS.

Maurice J. Summmerfield

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