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Bebop Spoken There

Kelly Sill: "Just because everyone is playing through the changes in the same time doesn't mean they're actually playing together" - (JazzTimes March/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!"


15260 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 279 of them this year alone and, so far, 92 this month (March 29).

From This Moment On ...


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.

Tue 04: Paul Skerritt @ The Rabbit Hole, Hallgarth St., Durham DH1 3AT. 7:00pm. Paul Skerritt's (solo) weekly residency.
Tue 04: Jam session @ Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre. 7:30pm. House trio: Bradley Johnston (guitar); Paul Grainger (double bass); Abbie Finn (drums).

Wed 05: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Wed 05: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 05: 4B @ The Exchange, North Shields. 7:00pm.
Wed 05: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 06: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 06: Thursday Night Prayer Meeting @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Donations. Feat. John Pope, Marie Shreer, John Garner.
Thu 06: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibtion Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Ragtime piano. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.
Thu 06: Darlington Big Band @ Dorman's Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Note earlier start time.

Fri 07: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm.
Fri 07: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 07: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm.
Fri 07: Gaz Hughes Trio @ Saltburn Community Hall. 7:30pm.
Fri 07: Mark Toomey Quartet @ Traveller's Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. £8.00.
Fri 07: Finntet + Zoë Gilby & Andy Champion @ Bobik's, Punch Bowl, Newcastle. 8:00pm. JNE.
Fri 07: TBA @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig. Blind Pig Blues Club.

Sat 08: Me Lost Me + Ceitidh Mac + Heather Ferrier @ Bobik's, Punch Bowl, Newcastle. 7:30pm. JNE.
Sat 08: Joseph Carville Trio @ The Vault, Darlington Covered Market, Darlington DL1 5PN. 6:00pm. New venue, live jazz!
Sat 08: Rendezvous Jazz @ Red Lion, Earsdon. 8:00pm. £3.00. RESCHEDULED from last week (Sat 01).
Sat 08: Robbie Reay @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Acoustic blues. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig.
Sat 08: Anth Purdy @ Mr Tighe's, Bebside, Northumberland. 8:30pm.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

GNBBJF - Sunday March 5 (Youth Section)

Sunday afternoon was all about eight youth bands. They arrived in Chester-le-Street by coach, car, possibly bus and train, ready to give it their all. Familiar ensembles, familiar MDs, many familiar faces, the hall filled with young musicians and their supporters. As competition was about to commence, the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival's director, Bill Watson, remarked upon the fact that, over the course of the weekend, several hundred musicians will have converged on Park View Community Centre in this, the event's twentieth anniversary year. 

Due to the late arriving Musica Holme Valley Big Band, Harrogate Youth Jazz Orchestra (MDJames Heaton) stepped up to open the afternoon's competition. The Harrogate ensemble included several musicians who, earlier in the day, were on stage during the schools' competition with St Aidan's Swing Band. Birk's Works (bold tenor sax and trumpet solos), Li'l Darlin' (muted trumpet solo) and Bob Mintzer's Computer with a scorching alto sax solo, MD James Heaton largely left the musicians to get on with it. The sign of a good band! 

Musica Holme Valley Big Band (MDGavin Brown) presented a fine looking programme ranging from Birdland to Gordon Goodwin's Jazz Police to a Gavin Brown arrangement of the anthemic Uptown Funk. A euphonium was spotted in the ensemble, not surprising really as the outfit hails from West Yorkshire brass band country! A most enjoyable set.

Wigan Youth Training Jazz Orchestra (MDSharon Darby-Purcell) is, as its name suggests, a junior ensemble in the amazing Wigan youth jazz set up. Hit the Bricks to Boogie Shoes, WYTJO is the feeder outfit to the 'senior' Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra. Owen Parr, pianist with said WYJO, asked Ms Darby-Purcell if he could conduct the Training Orchestra. And there he was, standing in front of the band to guide them through Living for the City and Everybody Needs Somebody. The future of jazz 'n' all's in safe hands. 

Musica Colne Valley Big Band arrived with a good looking programme. Jimmy Smith's Back in the Chicken Shack (minus the B3), arranged by Ray Leonard, doesn't make a big band set list too often, it was good to hear it here in Chester-le-Street. Vocalist Eleanor Dierckx sang Natural Born Woman, another surprise selection. An interesting set.

Scissett Youth Band isn't your conventional big band, rather it takes its lead more from street bands, dispensing with formalised sections, opting for two rows of horn players facing one another with a drummer in there to keep things civilised. No out front MD, the ensemble quite content to do things its own way, Cruisin' for a Bluesin'  and Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody featuring trumpeter Anna Richardson the highlights of the set.

Tyne Valley Youth Big Band (MDsJoe Steels & Evan Abell) Historically, the Tyne Valley bands - junior and senior - are nothing if not large in number. As the 2023 youth band took to the stage it came as a surprise to see a dramatically scaled down ensemble. In the absence of Joe Steels, co-MD Evan Abell took charge of matters. Three punchy numbers - Pick Up the PiecesMercy, Mercy, Mercy and the Hypnotic Brass Band's Planet Gibbous - with a blistering trumpet solo by Ferg Kilsby defied the odds of a band low on numbers. A job well done. 

The penultimate big band to perform at this year's GNBBJF arrived in Chester-le-Street as favourites to retain its title. Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra (MDDave Little) accumulates trophies here, there and everywhere. Frequent participants here in County Durham, Dave Little's band not only sounds good, the musicians look the part. It's as if they were going to work, and in a sense, that's what they were doing on this Sunday afternoon (double time payments?). From Hammerstein and Kern's All the Things You Are to Harlem Nocturne, a terrific take on Hot House to Lady Madonna, this was some band. Owen Parr (see photo), seen earlier in the day conducting the Wigan Training ensemble, produced a bravura performance at the piano. The packed hall roared its approval. 

It was a tough 'ask' to follow the WYJO. Musica Youth Jazz (MDAdam Kingham) took up the cudgels with a seamless Themes of James Bond medley. A good strategy, could it be a winning one? Chris Martin and Heather Vayro  hammed it up on the favourite of some, I Wanna be Like You. To close this year's GNBBJF, Musica Youth bowed out on Gordon Goodwin's, yes, you've guessed it, Jazz Police. An ensemble boasting a good trumpet section, bass and drums, Musica Youth Jazz - and the audience - awaited the verdict of the adjudicators.          
Bill Watson's indefatigable team of assistants cleared the stage to welcome the presentation party. Festival director Watson read out the results as follows:

Adjudicators' award: Ferg Kilsby, trumpet (Tyne Valley Youth Big Band)
Adjudicators' award: Seth Barraclough, saxophone & arrangement (Musica Youth Jazz)
Adjudicators' award: Anna Richardson, trumpet (Scissett Youth Band) 

The Mark Jon Bolderson Percussion Foundation award: Drummer (Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra)

Best Programme: Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra

Best Section: Brass Sections (trumpets & trombones) Harrogate Youth Jazz Orchestra

Best Soloist: Owen Parr, piano (Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra)

Best Band: Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra

Festival director Bill Watson thought that was it for another year...not quite! In recognition of his dedication and hard work in making the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival the success it undoubtedly is, adjudicators Marcus Brown and Mick Donnelly presented Mr Watson (see first photo) with a small gift as a token of thanks from everyone associated with the event - those who work behind the scenes, the musicians and audience. Russell

1 comment :

Chris Kilsby said...

Russell - many thanks for your (as ever) thoughtful, encouraging and authoritative annual commentary on GNBBJF! I find GNBBJF a strange beast: hugely powerful sounds, a great platform and introduction for youth players and a credit to the north east, but big bands are not quite my cup of tea (and I suspect a few others)...It's a huge credit to you (and the organisers of course) that you take such a positive stance and selflessly put in so much time (2.5 days?!) to support the event and the participants and give them publicity, validation and prominence.

As Soweto Kinch's programmes on BBC R4 this week evidence, music in schools is at an all time low, so it is all the more remarkable how vibrant the youth big band scene is - in some pockets of the country at least - Wigan, Bolton, Kirklees, take a bow! The route into jazz for youngsters has always been sketchy and random I suppose, and big bands may have their limitations and artistic peculiarities, but as far as I can see they are currently the most effective means of recruiting and training improvising players. So, more power to the elbow of big bands, and their selfless MDs (Dave Hignett, his successors and counterparts nationwide) and hooray for your efforts in celebrating this remarkable annual event!

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