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Bebop Spoken There

Abbie Finn: "Even though there's a lot of great work being done to promote women in jazz, I still come up against some attitudes! I pulled up at a recording session with my drums in the car and the studio owner said, 'I'm sorry, this space is reserved for the drummer!'" - (Jazzwise April 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!"


15245 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 264 of them this year alone and, so far, 77 this month (March 25).

From This Moment On ...


Mon 27: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

Tue 28: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.
Tue 28: Sanaz Lavasani Trio @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 8:00pm. £12.00 (£10.00. adv).

Wed 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 29: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 29: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 29: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 30: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library. 2:30-4:30pm. £2.00. All welcome.
Thu 30: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. Back to 1:00pm stomp off. Free.
Thu 30: '58 Jazz Collective @ Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool. 7:30pm. Free.
Thu 30: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Harbour View, Sunderland. 8:00pm.
Thu 30: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 31: Lewis Watson Quartet @ Bishop Auckland Town Hall. 1:00pm. SOLD OUT!
Fri 31: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 31: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 31: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm. CANCELLED! Back next week (April 7).
Fri 31: Jasmine Myra + Waclaw Zimpel @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Fri 31: The Revolutionaires @ The Shack, Boldon Colliery. 7:30pm. £10.00. The Revolutionaires' big band (horn section) line-up.
Fri 31: Andrew McCormack @ Maltings, Berwick. 8:00pm. £20.00.

Sat 01: The Big Easy @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington. 12:30pm.
Sat 01: Play Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Tutor: Steve Glendinning - In a Minor Key. £25.00. Enrol at:
Sat 01: Hot Club du Nord @ Pleased to Meet You, Bridge St., Morpeth. 8:00pm. £79.00. A charity fundraising event.
Sat 01: Boys of Brass @ Stack, Seaburn. 7:00-9:00pm.
Sat 01: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm. £3.00. RESCHEDULED to next week (Sat 08).

Sun 02: Smokin' Spitfires @ The Cluny. 12:45pm.
Sun 02: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 3:00pm.

Mon 03: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.

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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