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Bebop Spoken There

Art Blakey: "You [Bobby Watson] don't want to play too long, because you don't know they're clapping because they're glad you finished!" - (JazzTimes, Nov. 2019)..

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!"


15848 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 855 of them this year alone and, so far, 53 this month (Sept. 18).

From This Moment On ...


Mon 25: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 25: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 7:00pm.

Tue 26: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.

Wed 27: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 27: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 27: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 28: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 28: Alice Grace Quartet @ King's Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Free.
Thu 28: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm. All welcome.
Thu 28: Faye MacCalman + Snape/Sankey @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Thu 28: Zoe Rahman @ Jesmond United Reformed Church, Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Thu 28: '58 Jazz Collective @ Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool. 7:30pm.
Thu 28: Speakeasy @ Queen's Hall, Hexham. 7:30pm. £15.00. A Southpaw Dance Company presentation. Dance, audio-visuals, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, swing dancers etc.
Thu 28: Mick Cantwell Band @ Harbour View, Sunderland. 8:00pm. Free. Ace blues band.
Thu 28: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 29: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 29: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 29: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.

Sat 30: John Pope Quintet + Late Girl + Shapeshifters @ Bobik's, Jesmond, Newcastle.
Sat 30: Papa G's Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.


Sun 01: Smokin' Spitfires @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 12:45pm.
Sun 01: Dulcie May Moreno sings Portrait of Sheila @ Central Bar, Gateshead. 2:00pm. £10.00. Moreno sings Sheila Jordan with Giles Strong, Mick Shoulder & John Bradford.
Sun 01: Middlesbrough Jazz & Blues Orchestra @ Saltburn Community Hall. 2:00pm.
Sun 01: The Easy Rollers @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. £13.70., £11.55.
Sun 01: Brand/Roberts/Champion/Sanders @ Blank Studios, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music event.
Sun 01: Papa G's Troves @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 02: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Mon 02: FILM: Wattstax; 50th Anniversary @ Forum Cinema, Hexham. 8:00pm.

Monday, March 06, 2023

GNBBJF - Saturday March 4 (Open Section)

The first of two competition days got under way at a little after twelve noon. Saturday is the 'Open Section' of the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival, in essence senior bands, many of which are university ensembles. The Managers Big Band from Bolton arrived in good time determined to extend a winning streak of four consecutive victories. 

The Bolton band would have no fewer than ten challengers, could one of them dethrone the reigning champions? The first band up, ready to give it a go, Durham University Big Band (MDAlex Wardill) fresh from a sold out concert at the Soho, London Pizza Express. DUBB has a long history of winning silverware here at the GNBBJF and it remained to be seen - and heard - what the current ensemble could do. A programme opening with Yardbird Suite looked promising, but, of course, ten other bands were to follow.The rhythm section, notably double bassist Ewan Thomas, impressed. A good set, a high standard set.

A GNBBJF debut for 
Lancaster Comnunity Music Centre Big Band (MD, Adrian Boardman). The Odd Couple (of movie fame) opened the band's programme. As first timers here in Chester-le-Street, the Lancaster outfit arrived as an unknown quantity. Alto saxophonist George Gellerson, soon to take up a place at Leeds Conservatoire, impressed, the band will surely return to Chester-le-Street.

Long time supporters of the GNBBJF Durham Alumni Big Band regularly takes home a prize or two, and as the musicians took to the stage it was apparent the big hitters were out in force. MD Shaune Eland selected a good looking programme and any number of featured soloists stepped up: Steve McGarvie shone on soprano sax, McGarvie and the ensemble more than did justice to Ian Robinson's arrangement on Pavane and in closing the set with Gershwin's Cuban Overture (Jonny Dunn and the trumpet section) it would take a good band to keep the DABB out of the frame. 

Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra (MD, Josh Weir) supports the GNBBJF year after year and this 2023 edition of the event continued the tradition. Veterans of Newcastle Arts Centre's fabled jam sessions, Esther Coombes, clarinet, Jacob Egglestone, guitar, and drummer Bailey Rudd played their part in NUJO's presentation. Egglestone shredded on Jacob Mann's Emotionless Funk, Rudd particularly effective in his use of brushes. A good set, as was to be expected.

The Tyne Valley Big Band (MD, Dave Hignett) similarly never misses an edition of the GNBBJF. Invariably bringing along a truly 'big' big band, MD Hignett makes room for expanded brass and reeds and you can bet your bottom dollar it'll be an entertaining programme. Pianist Mike Cunningham, making a welcome debut with the band, played his part in an exhilarating start as drummer David Johnson subjected himself to WhiplashBarbara Hignett sang All That Jazz with all that pizzazz. Excellent. To conclude a fine set, Niall Armstrong and Sam Armstrong arranged Earth, Wind and Fire's Fantasy for the band, Becky White, alto sax and Ben Haslam, trombone, the featured soloists. Dave Hignett signed off saying: Hopefully see you in the bar.

Leeds Conservatoire Student Union Big Band (MD, Sophie Speed). In the absence of Sophie Speed (ex-Tyne Valley Big Band) an unnamed dep conducted the Conservatoire Student Union outfit. Kicking off with Gordon Goodwin's testing Hunting Wabbits, the ensemble came through with flying colours (James Absalom, tenor sax, Peter New, trombone, Liam Mason, piano). Tea for Two, as arranged for the WDR Big Band, worked well, Tara Wilson the featured vocalist. Autumn in New York (Stan Kenton) and more Goodwin - A Few Good Men - concluded an excellent performance. Noted as 'in the frame'. 

York Music Forum Jazz Ensemble (MD, Ian Chalk). An Ian Chalk funk arrangement of Moonlight Serenade made for a pleasant change, Danny Sewell contributing some good tenor sax work. An acquaintance, who shall remain nameless, wondered out loud: I don't suppose there's an award for the worst dressed conductor? The cheek of it! A fine band and an excellent, enthusiastic MD.

Leeds University Union Big Band (LUU Big Band). Formerly the Leeds University Dance Band, the present day LUU Big Band benefits from the input of two MDs, Evan McNab and Eli Hayter. Not that you would know it, McNab (reeds) and Hayter remaining in their sections throughout. LUU is a well-drilled band, evidenced by the opening number, Gordon Goodwin's Hunting Wabbits which featured McNab on soprano sax and Jack Smith, tenor sax, cleverly referencing John Coltrane. A Warm Breeze worked well, Scott Caldwell-Nichols, guitar, prominent, Smith once more on tenor. Notes concluded: Serious contenders.

Bold Big Band (MD, Brian Wicks). Bold by name, bold in approach. The Newcastle based Bold Big Band featured several familiar faces (Billy Bradshaw, trumpet, Ben Davies, guitar, Ifede Osiyemi, bass guitar), some performing earlier in the day with Newcastle University Jazz Orchestra. Charts arranged by Kris Berg, Gordon Goodwin, Alan Baylock and others brought out the best in the graduate/undergraduate band. 

Two bands to go, one from Edinburgh, one from the Bolton. Edinburgh University Jazz Orchestra (MD, Zain Alexander Cruickshank). Heard not too long ago on Tyneside, the Edinburgh student band arrived in Chester-le-Street with form, good form! Alto saxophonist Honza Zizka hit the ground running wirh a terrific solo on Harlem Nocturne (arr. Bret Zvacek). Sheraya Dassanayake, lead vocalist of an all female vocal trio within the band, scored with the audience singing Miss Otis Regrets

And to the final big band of the day. The Managers Big Band (MD, Ben Shepherd) arrived from Bolton as the defending champions. Shepherd and co were hoping to make it five in a row. All of the other bands knew, or had been told, just how good this outfit is. Their reputation precedes them! As the suited and booted ensemble took to the stage the hall was standing room only. Some hadn't heard the band, they were in for a surprise! 

The Tattooed Bride (Duke Ellington) opened the programme. Scanning the ranks, it was apparent several of the band's award-winning big hitters were absent. Would this prove to be significant? Trombonist Jack Looman (not a newbie) featured as did a new face, Sam Lightwing, clarinet. You should have heard Lightwing! Those in the hall knew they were hearing something special. You should have heard the applause! 

Billy Mays' arrangement of Hungarian Dance No. 5 produced an amazing ensemble performance, the whooping and hollering said it all. The Managers Big Band is nothing if not dynamic. Glancing at the programme, Straight No Chaser was listed as the set's closing number. Monk was made for the band from Bolton. The Managers' recently recruited new drummer is none other than Paul Rigby (Maynard Ferguson, Georgie Fame, Salena Jones, founder of the Northern Jazz Orchestra)! It doesn't seem fair does it? It's like the manager (Ben Shepherd) of an all conquering, all star eleven dipping into the transfer market to sign Lionel Messi! Game over, if the Managers aren't to retain their title, your correspondent is Frank Sinatra.

The GNBBJF's adjudicators - Marcus Brown and Mick Donnelly - deliberated. The stage cleared for the presentations, the results were announced by festival director Bill Watson.The award-winners were as follows: 

Adjudicators' award: Ian Robinson, flugelhorn and arrangement Pavane (Durham Alumni Big Band)

Adjudicators' award: Bruce Hygate, drums (Leeds University Union Big Band)

Adjudicators' award: Vocal ensemble (Edinburgh University Jazz Orchestra)

Best Programme: Durham Alumni Big Band

Best Section: Trombones, Tyne Valley Big Band

Best Soloist: Sam Lightwing clarinet (The Managers Big Band)

Best Band: The Managers Big Band

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