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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 ...


Sat 23: Tyne Valley Big Band @ Tanfield Railway, Gateshead. 2:00-4:00pm. Free. A '1940s Weekend' event.
Sat 23: Jason Isaacs @ Stack, Seaburn. 3:30-5:30pm. Free.
Sat 23: Andrew Porritt & Keith Barrett @ Cullercoats Watch House, Front St., Cullercoats NE30 4QB. 7:00pm.
Sat 23: Michael Woods @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig. Country blues.

Sun 24: Musicians Unlimited @ Park Inn, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 24: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.

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.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Ben Sidran Quartet @ Cafe Central, Madrid May 23

Ben Sidran (piano); Bill McHenry (saxo tenor); Billy Peterson (contrabaja); Leo Sidran (bateria)

I guess I am one of the few people who still actually buys a hard copy of the Lonely Planet guide when I am going on holiday, although I am sure it is available as an app (or something similar) for more tech savvy members of the human race. However, the title of the guides must be one of the most out of date concepts imaginable (due in part, of course, to its own success). No doubt the Sunday Times has already had articles listing the ten most lonely places to have a wild party and I am sure if I took a Ryanair flight to the dark side of the moon the first person I would bump into would be one of the Mooneys who lived in the next street to where I grew up in Dublin.

However, during a brief stay in Madrid on the way to places further south, the solid, tactile paperback came up with some useful information. In its listing of local bars and cafes it happened to mention that the Cafe Central also had regular jazz gigs and it turned out the location of this cafe in Plaza del Angel was only five minutes from our hotel. A quick look at its web site revealed that there were shows at 8pm and 10pm and as it was 9.15 everything was hunky dory. The fact that I hadnt heard of the quartet that was performing was no problem as the list of international jazz musicians I havent heard of is (sadly) extensive.

At the door I did make a gentle query about the entrance fee of 27 euros but the person taking the money responded instantly in perfect English saying hes American, very good and well worth the price. All statements that turned out to be totally correct.

The band was the Ben Sidran Quartet and firstly I must apologise to Mr Sidran by saying that despite the fact he had been playing and recording for 60 years I was not familiar with his work, even though I claim to be a jazz fan. However the loss has been entirely mine.

This was a great gig. Ben Sidran is an excellent piano player and entertainer. He writes many of his own songs and performs them beautifully.

The first piece was an instrumental version of Little Sherri by Charlie Rouse and immediately illustrated the relaxed compatibility between the piano and the rhythm section. Apparently Sidran has been playing with the bass player, Billy Peterson since the year dot and even though he is relatively speaking a youngster, the drummer had been playing (in all senses of the word) with the band leader for even longer. This is not unrelated to the fact that he is his son, Leo Sidran.

I dont know how long the saxophone player, Bill McHenry, has been with the group (or the familial relationships) but it was immediately clear that he is a great musician too.

Having settled down to enjoy an evening of instrumental jazz I was then pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that many of the following songs included vocals by Sidran. There were wry and gently ironic songs musing on age, Whos the Old Guy Now?, reflections on the original hipster period and lifestyle Dont Cry for No Hipster. One Day, Baby had some fine sax playing by McHenry.

Just as I was thinking to myself what does this music remind me of?, Sidran launched into a number I would never have expected to hear at a jazz gig - a jazz version of  Dylans Subterranean Homesick Blues. Then I got it. This was music built on Lenny Bruce raps, Jack Kerouac reading his poems over jazz piano, Dylan and as I was to read later, Mose Allison. In an article Sidran describes his admiration for Allison by saying he was not a singer who played the piano but a piano player who sang - a subtle difference but an important one.

Sidran had more surprises to finish the set with. He started a gentle rap about three shoemakers and I thought Okay, this is one of those old Jewish tales of wisdom and acceptance, but then he moved on to talk about Frederico Garcia Lorca and to sing in Spanish. I couldnt quite hear if this was one of Lorcas poems or a song about the poet but it was a very nice piece and he also mentioned that there was a statue to Lorca in the square near by. A very appropriate tribute to his Spanish hosts.

The encore was (I think) a beautiful version of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square with just the piano and saxophone.

Muy bueno, Senor Sidran y amigos. JC

(PS. I did, of course, consult the extensive BSH archive for references to Ben Sidran and was impressed to find a number of mentions. Some reviewers noted that the title of the Miles Davis tune Nardis was an anagram of Sidran but it wasnt clear whether this was because it was dedicated to him or a coincidence. It is hard to tell since Miles wrote the tune in 1958 and Sidran was born in 1943. But then maybe the 1954 Sonny Rollins tune Oleo was a positive prediction of Sidran Jr.). CJ

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