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Bebop Spoken There

Steve Fishwick: “I can’t get behind the attitude that new is always somehow better than old”. (Jazz Journal, April 15, 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!"

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.


16542 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 422 of them this year alone and, so far, 29 this month (June 17).

From This Moment On ...


Thu 20: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 20 Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Brunswick Methodist Church, Newcastle. 2:00pm. £4.00. Note new venue!
Thu 20: Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan @ The Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm. £29.00., £23.00. Folk/jazz duo.
Thu 20: Richard Herdman & Ray Burns @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 20: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Josh Bentham (tenor sax); Donna Hewitt (alto sax); Dave Archbold (keys); Dave Harrison (trumpet); Ron Smith (bass).

Fri 21: Alan Barnes with Dean Stockdale Trio @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. SOLD OUT!
Fri 21: Joe Steels’ Borealis @ The Gala, Durham. 1:00pm. £8.00.
Fri 21: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 21: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 21: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 21: Soznak @ The Bike Garden, Nunsmoor, Newcastle NE4 5NU. 5:00-9:00pm. Free.
Fri 21: Errol Linton + Michael Littlefield & Scott Taylor (King Bees) @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle. 7:30pm. £20.00. Blues double bill.
Fri 21: Alan Barnes with the Dean Stockdale Trio @ Seventeen Nineteen, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Fri 21: Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ Alnwick Playhouse. 8:00pm. ‘Ella & Ellington’.
Fri 21: Mark Toomey Quartet @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. Opus 4 Jazz Club.

Sat 22: Jason Isaacs @ Stack, Seaburn SR6 8AA. 12:30-2:30pm. Free.
Sat 22: Abbie Finn Trio @ The Vault, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free.
Sat 22: Hejira: Celebrating Joni Mitchell @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors). £22.50.
Sat 22: Rockin’ Turner Bros. @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 23: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 23: More Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free.
Sun 23: Matt Carmichael @ St Mary’s Church, Wooler. 3:00pm. Carmichael (saxophone), Fergus McCreadie (piano), Charlie Stewart (fiddle). ‘Scottish jazz, folk-roots & landscape’ Wooler Arts: Summer Concerts.
Sun 23: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 23: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 23: Bede Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 23: Leeway @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Sun 23: Jazz Jam @ Fabio’s Bar, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Mon 24: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 24: Remy CB @ The Hoppings, Newcastle Town Moor NE2 3NH. 5:00-7:00pm.

Tue 25: Louise Dodds & Elchin Shirinov @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Wed 26: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 26: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 26: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Lancaster Jazz Festival update

For the latest news regarding the forthcoming Lancaster Jazz Festival launch click on HERE.

You may also like to read an interview with the festival's 'Artist in Residence' - a musician not entirely unknown in the north east! HERE. Lance

Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms - June 30

Maureen Hall (vocals); Gavin Lee (soprano sax); Gordon Solomon (trombone); Brian Chester (keyboards); Tom Derbyshire (double bass, vocals); Bob Stephenson (drums) + John Broddle (vocals)

I Found a New Baby opened this afternoon's weekly session at the Monkseaton Arms. Maureen Hall's Rendezvous Jazz comprises two of the very best frontline horn players on the scene - Gavin Lee playing soprano sax and trombonist Gordon Solomon - working alongside the piano, bass and drums boys, pianist Brian Chester, bassist Tom Derbyshire and depping drummer Bob Stephenson. 

Shakti @ Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith - June 27

John McLaughlin (electric guitar), Ganesh Rajagopalan (violin, konokol), Zakir Hussain (tabla, konokol), Selvaganesh Vinayakaram (ghatam, percussion, konokol), Shankar Mahadevan (vocals, konokol).  

The last time I saw these musicians was the fiftieth anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan and the ticket said Zakir Hussain and John McLaughlin, though they would become known as Remember Shakti. Mrs T was heavily pregnant and from the second row the ghatam resembled a full-term bump so I attributed the huge applause from the audience facing it to them seeing the head, by way of pacifying a heavy, hot, uncomfortable far better half.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Jazz on the Tyne – What’s On & What’s New, July 2023

In the latest edition of the podcast, presenter Colin Muirhead will preview gigs by the Abbie Finn Trio, Emma Fisk’s Hot Club du Nord, Martin Speake, Archipelago, corto.alto, and Yazz Ahmed.  He’ll also play music from new releases featuring John Pope & John Garner, Fraser Fifield, and McCoy Tyner.

You can listen to the show anytime from noon on Saturday 1st July by heading to

Plus, you can request tunes for future programmes by emailing Colin at or heading to

R.I.P. Tommy Graham

Gordon Solomon sent me the following sad news: 'Tommy Graham passed away today. Tommy was not only a really swinging drummer but also a lovely gentle man. I’m sure he’ll be sadly missed on the north east music scene. Condolences to Natalie.'

I can only echo those sentiments.

Tommy's father, Johnny Graham, was an excellent drummer and very much an extrovert. Tommy inherited the former if not the latter trait.

As Gordon says, he was a lovely gentle man.

4B @ the Exchange, North Shields - June 28

Bernie Ranson (saxes, vocals); Alan Law (keys); Harry  Husaini (bass, ukulele); Alan Wann (drums).

Since the spring when the new lessee took over at the Exchange, local people have watched with interest wondering what changes will be made. There is a revamped patio area, some new furniture, a lick of paint and refurbished toilets  but fortunately no change to the jazz programme. 4B continue to do their thing on Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon; blues, bossas and cool jazz with a little humour thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Esk release their debut single, Spirit, on Friday July 21

(Press release): Northern neo-soul duo Esk is vocalist and songwriter Evie Hill, and pianist Ben Lawrence who also produced the session. 

Their compelling debut single Spirit will be released on Friday 21st July, combining the rural soundscapes in which they grew up with the jazz influences they discovered later in life. 

The Globe Summer Festival 2023

The third annual Globe Summer Festival gets underway this weekend offering a mouth-watering selection of goodies based around a variety of genres (see graphic) with Sunday July 2 being of particular interest to the BSH gang.

However, for a more detailed blow by blow description of the 'happenings' and to buy tickets visit the Globe website HERE. Lance

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Single review: Slowlight Quartet - Tall Tales

Ian Paterson (bass); Tom Quilliam (sop sax); Athol Cassidy (guitar); John Hirst (drums) 

After being otherwise engaged for the past seven years the Slowlight Quartet eventually got back together with a couple of changes of personnel to record, after five days of intense rehearsal, a new album. The end product is yet to be released 'in toto' however, singles are being trickled out as tasters/tempters and Tall Tales is indeed tempting.

Jazz Summer Camp prepares to inspire the musicians of tomorrow

(Publicity shot uncredited)
(Press release): Five of Scotland’s top jazz instrumentalists and tutors are hosting a five-day jazz summer camp to share their skills and experience from 7th to 11th August.

Located at Wiston Lodge, an attractive Victorian hunting lodge near Biggar in South Lanarkshire, the course is led by internationally respected trumpeter Ryan Quigley and drummer Andrew Bain with a team including two former Young Scottish Jazz Musicians of the Year who have gone to international success as recording artists.

“It’s a highly qualified and talented group of tutors who have a wealth of professional experience and can give students the tools they need to become confident and expressive musicians,“ says Quigley whose touring and recording credits include work with Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Michael Buble, Ron Carter, George Michael, and Burt Bacharach.

Album Review: Louis Stewart & Noel Kelehan - Some Other Blues

Louis Stewart (guitar); Noel Kelehan (piano)

Having been away on a longish trip to Spain I arrived home to find a delightful slice of Irish jazz history awaiting me.

After the reissue last year of Louis Stewarts wonderful 1977 solo album Out On His Own (previously reviewed on BSH), now comes another box of treasure from the musical archive of Gerald Davis, the founder of Irelands first jazz label, Livia Records. With the support of the Davis family, the record label has been reactivated by jazz aficionado Dermot Rogers and clearly he has been enjoying his explorations.

Album review: Zoe Rahman – Colour of Sound (Manushi Records)

Zoe Rahman (piano); Alec Dankworth (double bass) Gene Calderazzo (drums); Idris Rahman (tenor/alto sax, clarinet); Rowland Sutherland (flutes); Rosie Turton (trombone) + Alex Ridout (trumpet/flugelhorn on 3 tracks); Byron Wallen (trumpet on 1 track).

Zoe Rahman has mainly recorded solo, duo and trio albums thus far in her career, occasionally augmenting the line-up, but this, from what I can see is her first album with a group as large as this sextet (plus occasional extras). Hopefully, most of these folks will be joining her on stage when she plays the Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music at the Jesmond United Reformed Church   on Sept. 28. She is, thankfully, a frequent visitor to the North East, not being one of that fancy London crowd who may have heard of us, but seem incapable of finding us on the map.

Preview: The Strictly Smokin' Big Band featuring Alice Grace: Ella & Ellington @ The Fire Station, Sunderland (July 21)

Michael Lamb's magnificent Strictly Smokin' Big Band recently toured its Harlem '58 show across the north of England. Playing to full houses night after night, the SSBB won many new friends along the way. The story began some two decades ago when MD Michael Lamb was still at school. Forming a big band (as one does!), chasing gigs, plugging away, the Strictly Smokin' Big Band began to make an impression on the local music scene. 

Over the years the SSBB has performed at many of the region's prestigious venues (regularly selling out Hoochie Coochie and Sage Gateshead), often working in the company of a star guest (the big names include Bruce Adams, Paul Booth, Matthew Ford, Polly Gibbons, Claire Martin and Dave O'Higgins). 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Album review: Wilma Baan - Look at me Now

Wilma Baan (vocals); Graham Harvey (piano/keys); Jeremy Brown (bass/elec. bass); Sebastiaan de Krom (drums) + Nigel Price (guitar on 3 tks); Nat Steele (vibes on 3 tks); James McMillan (trumpet/flugel on 2 tks); Tristan Banks (perc on 5 tks)

It was back in 2021 when Baan sent me into orbit with her first album - So Nice - an album which went on to be one of my top vocal albums of 2021.

Look at me Now is up there in that league. Baan's interpretation of a song, whether old or new creates the feeling that you're hearing it for the first time. The Dutch singer gets into the lyric adding her own inflections, maybe an ever so slight suggestion of Dinah Washington or Pearl Bailey, playing around with the phrasing in a way that only the very best can get away with. She gets away with it!

Jazz North announces bursary scheme for promoters to programme emerging northern jazz artists

(Press release): Jazz North announces its latest support scheme, New Northern, and invites northern promoters to apply for bursaries up to £500

The bursaries will support fees and costs for grassroots emerging artists and support acts

After the success of two schemes which awarded £10,000 to promoters, educators and artists across the North of England, Jazz North has relaunched its promoter bursary support under a new heading, New Northern

The new scheme, which will award 10 promoters bursaries of up to £500, is designed to support live performance of emerging talent in the North of England. 

As a direct impact of COVID and the Cost of Living crisis, Jazz North has seen promoters and artists have their budgets squeezed at both ends. Quite often, the result of this is no support acts or no fees for these artists. 

A blast from the past

Joe Errington (trumpet); Gordon Solomon (trombone); Stan Martin (clarinet, tenor sax); Malcolm Armstrong (piano); Bill Brooks (bass); Mike Wakefield (drums); Dave Hedley (vocals)

Colin Aitchison sent me this reminder of one of the north east's greatest Dixieland bands - the River City Jazzmen. The River City are still going albeit, apart from  Gordon Solomon, with a completely different line-up as many of the others have move onward and upward - particularly upward. LISTEN. Lance

Preview: George Gershwin is Composer of the Week (June 26 - 30)

The Great American Songbook features in this week's Composer of the Week on BBC Radio 3. George Gershwin is the focus of attention as presenter Donald Macleod presents five daily programmes (12 noon), beginning on Monday (June 26) with Melting Pot, an exploration of Gershwin's early years. This first programme includes a Gershwin number sung by Sarah Vaughan. Russell   

Jazz Orient @ the Customs House, South Shields - June 25

Baluji Shrivastav OBE (sitar, vocals); Linda Shanovitch (vocals, perc.); Alex Hill (piano, keys); Sukhdeep Dhanjal (tablas): Richie ? (alto sax)

I'm not going to use that, done to death, cliché and describe tonight's sparse attendance as a 'select audience'. If it was any more  select, the room would have been empty. 

Nevertheless, those brave souls who made it through the heavy rain that preceded the concert did, more or less, have the last laugh.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Album review: Abbie Finn Trio - On Pink Lane

Abbie Finn (drums); Harry Keeble (tenor sax); Paul Grainger (double bass)

On Pink Lane is where it all began. In pre-pandemic times Abbie Finn wandered into the then Jazz Café (now Prohibition Bar) to sit-in at one of the regular jam sessions organised by bassist Paul Grainger. The Leeds College of Music alumnus duly sat-in, sometime later fellow student Harry Keeble would accompany Abbie at one of the jam session nights, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Aycliffe Radio: Jazz Time - Sundays 6.30-8.00 pm (repeat Tuesdays 8.00-9.30pm)

Playlist 25/06/23. (Repeated Tuesday 27/06/23)

Summertime: Jim Robinson, Oscar Peterson.

Requests from the Opus 4 Sue Ferris Gig: Gerald Clayton, Cassandra Wilson, Ray Brown Trio, Ronnie Laws, Billie Holiday/Teddy Wilson/Benny Goodman, Avishai Cohen, Django Reinhardt, Fergus McCreadie.

Birthday memories: Kenny Barron, Joe Chambers and Herbie Hancock, Sahib Shihab Dexter Gordon, Lars Gullin.

What’s on in the NE: Lindsay Hannon, Hot Fingers, James Birkett and Bradley Johnston.

John Lewis plays Cole Porter.

Tony Eales' Choice. Orchestra National De Jazz.

Album review: Matt Holborn's Learn to Draw - *here (and other stories)

Matt Holborn (violin); Kourosh Kanani (guitar); Domenico Angarano (bass); Joost Hendrickx (drums) + on track 6 Miranda Lewis Brown (cello); Julia Reis (viola) 

Matt Holborn's new album *here (and other stories) is the debut release from the violinist's Learn to Draw project. A noted Djangologist and a fixture on the London jazz scene, Holborn has assembled a top class quartet - guitarist and fellow Djangologist Kourosh Kanani, bassist Domenico Angarano and drummer Joost Hendrickx - augmented on Learn to Draw (the sixth track on the album) by two string players from the London-based J.A.M. ensemble - Miranda Lewis Brown, cello, and Julia Dos Reis.  

The '58 Jazz Collective @ Dorman's Jazz Club, Middlesbrough - June 22

Kevin Eland (trumpet/flugel); Donna Hewitt (tenor sax/clarinet); Django Zazou (trombone/vocals); Dave Archbold (keys); Ron Smith (bass); Mark Hawkins (drums); Kate Carter (guest vocalist).

It is always a pleasure to welcome this band to fill the monthly guest slot at Dorman's. Under Kevin's leadership the group has become a well recognised and popular jazz ensemble with the ability to always please a discerning audience.

Starting the first set with Frank Foster's Shiney Stockings Kevin gave a nice intro on flugel before switching to trumpet. Kate then joined the band to sing the popular Mean to me with a fine trumpet solo from Kevin, sax from Donna, piano from Dave and excellent backing from Ron on bass and Mark on drums, setting the style for the evening and showing how well they all played together.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Tenement Jazz Band @ the Prohibition Bar - June 23

(© Russell)
Charles Dearness (trumpet); Paddy Darley (trombone); Steven Feast (clarinet); John Youngs (banjo, vocals); Rory Clark (sousaphone)

The first jazz book I ever read - or attempted to read (I don't think I've finished it yet although it is still up there on the shelf gathering dust and absorbing any damp that may seep in) was Rudi Blesh's Shining Trumpets - and I wondered if, as an impressionable youngster, whether I should follow the classical path of my parents or the popular music (it had yet to be abbreviated to 'pop') of my friends or go with my gut instinct.

 Jazz seemed so complicated

Friday, June 23, 2023

Giles Strong Quartet @ The Gala, Durham - June 23

(© Malcolm Sinclair)
Giles Strong (guitar); Pete Tanton (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ian Paterson (double bass); John Bradford (drums)

The Giles Strong Quartet is a relatively new unit and on the evidence of this lunchtime Gala concert it could develop into a long term project. Four vastly experienced musicians, each of them responsive, sensitive players, the music and the setting made for a most enjoyable hour. In an era of (over) amplification, guitarist Giles Strong chose to perform entirely acoustically save for our bandleader's lightly amplified instrument. 

Preview: Baluji Shrivastav OBE and Jazz Orient @ the Customs House, South Shields - Sunday June 25 (7:30pm)

(Press release): 

“Jazz Orient…produce fireworks!” Songlines.

 “A veritable feast of sounds…gorgeous melodies throughout. Lovely stuff.” L.A. Daily News.

Jazz Orient are Baluji Shrivastav OBE (sitar, vocals), Linda Shanovitch (vocals, percussion), Alex Hill (keyboards) and Sukhdeep Dhanjal (tabla) who celebrate Jazz, Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Indian music, creating a kaleidoscope of rhythms and melodies with intricate patterns of percussive footwork and graceful movements from Indian dance. With six albums so far and several tours, guest artists include Fiaz Khan, Guy Barker, Andy Sheppard, Hossam Ramzy, Sakari Kukku, Talvin Singh, Mike Parker, Gerry Hunt, Andy Platt, and Eric Junkes. With a dazzling array of instruments and full of surprises, music from Jazz Orient is for the heart, mind and soul.

Tonite! The Tenement Jazz Band (Friday 23)

One of the most popular bands to visit Tyneside in recent years is the award-winning Tenement Jazz Band from Edinburgh. This evening the lads will pitch up once again at Prohibition Bar in Newcastle. 

Recently crowned 'Best Band' at the Scottish Jazz Awards, the Tenements hold broad appeal: classic jazz-era buffs will be there tonight on Pink Lane alongside more than a few dancers (these guys and gals really can dance!). 

Arrive in good time to grab a seat, a bottle of Prohibition ale would be a good choice, perhaps a Double Maxim. Fine wines and spirits are a good alternative, whatever your poison, it's an eight o'clock start, donations of the folding stuff appreciated. Russell   

RIP Peter Brötzmann (6 March 1941 - 22 June 2023)

Peter Brötzmann has died at the age of 82. Born in Remscheid, Germany, as a schoolboy he heard Sidney Bechet in concert. Brötzmann was first a painter before turning to music. A key figure in the European avant-garde, he released dozens of albums, some of them self-financed, often 'live' recordings. Machine Gun from 1968 introduced Brötzmann to a wider public. A member of the Instant Composers Pool, Brötzmann worked with a who's who of the free jazz scene including Peter Kowald, Han Bennink, Joe McPhee, Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. Russell

Still Standing

An interesting documentary on local boy made good Colin Aitchison. Lance

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Album review: Don Braden - Earth, Wind and Wonder, Vol 2

Don Braden (tenor sax/flute/alto flute); Miki Hayama, Art Hirahara (piano/keys); Kenny Davis (bass); Jeremy Warren (drums); Kahla Kwane Bell (perc on 3 tks). 

100% African - American jazz with maybe a touch of Brazil here and there. Given the material, not surprisingly, there's also some soul in there  but best, or worst of all depending on which peg you've hung your hat on, it swings!

Not like in the old days - these days we dance to a different drummer - but the overall effect is the same. We still tap our feet, albeit not always to four in the bar, sometimes it's five and a bit, other times it's anybody's guess but the important thing is that the beat is always there - the trick is finding it.

Which is no problem here, it jumps right up and grabs you.

Nat 'King' Cole: I Was A Little Too Lonely (And You Were A Little Too Late)

Great song with some wailing alto by Willie Smith, fine guitar from the vastly underrated John Collins and of course some puckish piano and cool Cole crooning.

The song, words and music by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, is an absolute corker  and deserves to be covered by any/all of the current swing singers. Lance

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Constable in Jarrow (until Sunday June 25)

Mention Jarrow and what do you get? Marches that achieved nothing other than blistered feet. Ellen Wilkinson, 'Red Ellen', who was part of the march and has had books, plays and a real ale named after her and who can also be seen captured in an impressive sculpture in the car park outside of Morrison's, is another name that will forever be associated with the town.

But there was, and still is, another side to Jarrow. The town may have been murdered, to quote 'wor Ellen', but it didn't die. There was ever an appreciation of culture and the arts.

Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music 2023

The seventh annual Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music 2023 will take place this year over three weekends at various venues across the city.

Artistic Director and Festival Producer, Wesley Stephenson, said: Launched in 2017, the festival continues to respond to the city’s appetite for a contemporary grass roots jazz festival, presenting an innovative and diverse international line up, celebrating and pushing boundaries that challenge perceptions of jazz and improvised music. 

This year we welcome new performance spaces including the Jesmond United Reformed Church  and Blank Studios, alongside our regular venues Bobiks, the Globe and the Newcastle Literary  and Philosophical Society. 

The midsummer Black Swan jam session - June 20

A day of torrential rain gave way to a pleasantly warm summer's evening. Would the students be gone for the summer? Would others opt for a back garden BBQ? Would anyone make the effort to go into town for the Black Swan jam session? The answer to the latter question was emphatically YES! In no time at all the Newcastle Arts Centre's basement venue was doing good business. Long time jam session supporters bagged their favourite seats, new faces - a surprising number of them - took a pew wherever they could. Welcome to the best free show in town! 

Sunday night @ the Globe: Graham Costello’s Strata - June 18 (take two)

(© Ken Drew)
Graham Costello (drums); Fergus McCreadie (piano); Harry Weir (tenor sax, bass clarinet); Kevin Cahill (guitar); Gus Stirrat (electric bass)

Judging by the size of the audience downstairs at the Globe (~65 plus a few standing) expectations were high. Having seen Stirrat and Costello as part of Animal Society (led by Joe Williamson on guitar) at the Bridge in March 2020 (remembered as a highly energetic performance, and the last by JNE before Lockdown) along with McCreadie's energy and increasingly wide reputation added to the mix, along with Weir and Cahill (both new to me) I was sure that the sum of the parts would surely create some fireworks. 

An Evening with Steve Beresford: JNE @ the Lit & Phil - June 16

(© Ken Drew)
Steve Beresford (prepared piano, devices & toys); John Butcher (tenor/soprano saxes); Hannah Marshall (cello); Andy Hamilton (interviewer)

The title of a book of conversations between Beresford and Andy Hamilton (author) Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise sums up the evening very nicely which was presented in three parts.

The first set was solo piano by Beresford, who surprisingly, has only visited Newcastle infrequently. Very quickly Beresford showed his musicality and dexterity on the keyboard and within the first minute it was apparent that, in certain areas of the piano's range, the piano was indeed a prepared piano. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Get your kicks on Root 66

Okay so we, England, narrowly lost the first test. So what? there's another four to go and it could have gone either way.

However, what always tickles my fancy is Joe Root's team number - 66 - and how the commentators never seem to pick up on it even though he's worn it for many years. 

I'm sure if Shane Warne had still been with us, it may have clicked with him.

Album review: Donny McCaslin - I Want More

Donny McCaslin (tenor sax); Josh Lindner (synthesiser, Wurlitzer); Tim Lefebvre (bass); Mark Guiliana (drums).

I think the greatest compliment I can pay this album is that it sounds like it was recorded by a British group. The level of invention and incorporation of other music sets it apart from those other (too many) American artists running through bop and post-bop tropes, unwilling to engage with a wider musical palette.

Sunday night @ the Globe: Graham Costello’s Strata - June 18 (also album review)

Graham Costello, (drums); Fergus McCreadie (piano); Harry Weir (tenor sax, bass clarinet); Kevin Cahill (guitar); Gus Stirrat (electric bass).

(On the album: Joe Williams (guitar) and Angus Tikka (bass) replace Cahill and Stirratt and Liam Shortall plays trombone)

Sometimes a concert is a good way into an act or an album that had previously been beyond reach. (This happened for me with Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear. Seeing them live made everything click.) Sometimes it’s the other way round and listening to the album provides a way into a better understanding of the gig you saw the night before. This latter, for me, is the point I have arrived at after seeing Graham Costello’s Strata on Sunday night at the Globe. Listening to Obelisk, the album they were promoting at the gig, you get a sense of where the name, Strata, came from. There are layers to this music and you can spend repeated listens geologically exploring what is going on at different levels. This pleasure is one that, inevitably, is denied in a live setting but other factors usually more than compensate.

The Chet Set @ Blaydon Jazz Club - June 19

(© Roly Veitch)
Pete Tanton (trumpet, vocals); Alan Law (piano); Mick Shoulder (double bass); John Bradford (drums)

1954/2023, a warm summer's evening, sitting on the terrace with a chilled beer, musicians chewing the fat. Familiar faces strolled in, nodding to other familiar faces, the recently refurbished Black Bull as welcoming as ever. Chet's/Pete's trumpet on its stand awaited the arrival of its audience. The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach is a million miles - metaphorically speaking - from Blaydon-on-Tyne but on a night like this the views from the terrace looking out across the Tyne take some beating. Chet/Pete and the boys sauntered in, the Chet Set was about to begin.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Great to hear from Peter Courtley.

Hi Peter, thank you for posting those memories of your mother, the great Kathy Stobart, and I'm sure our readers would love to hear more including any memories you have about your dad, trumpet player Bert Courtley.

Perhaps you'd care to write more? Although I heard Kathy (and Bert) many times I never met her although I did have occasional chats with her brother Ralph when he played with the original, as it was then, the Customs House Community Big Band.

Mike Hall Quartet @ the Railway, Stockport - June 18

(© Jeff Pritchard)
Mike Hall (tenor sax); Andrzej Baranek (keys); Steve Berry (bass); Eryl Roberts (drums).

The jazz gremlins were hard at work yesterday as Dean Masser who was the advertised act did not appear, his replacement being the Sale based reedsman Mike Hall. The reason for Dean’s absence was that his house was flooded so let’s hope he gets it fixed soon and that he’s back in action before too long.  

This weather is weird. I spent a few hours before the gig wandering about Stockport checking out some old haunts and it was warm and looked like it was going to chuck it down any minute, but it didn’t! 

Tonite (Monday)! Pete Tanton tips his hat to Chet Baker (Blaydon Jazz Club)

The Chet Set, that's trumpeter and vocalist Pete Tanton's affectionate homage to '50s West Coast cool icon Chet Baker. This evening (Monday 19) Pete will be joined by three of the very best - pianist Alan Law, bassist Mick Shoulder and drummer John Bradford

Trumpet, flugelhorn and affecting vocals, Pete, from Alabama, long-since resident in the north east, is as convincing as anyone when it comes to the Hermosa Beach years - and beyond - of Chet Baker. Join Pete and the boys at the recently refurbished Black Bull on Bridge Street, Blaydon for an eight o'clock start, it's a mere £7.00. at the door. Russell

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Dean Stockdale Trio @ St James' & St Basil's, Fenham (via Newport Jazz Festival) - June 18

(© Pam)
Dean Stockdale (piano); Mick Shoulder (bass); Tim Johnston (drums).

An afternoon session, particularly in the open air, never fails to bring to my mind that legendary movie, Jazz on a Summer's Day.

The similarities were there. The cool, laid back, jazz by Stockdale's trio brought Oscar Peterson to mind. I don't think Oscar was actually at Newport that year (how remiss of them) but, thanks to Dean he is now.

In the film the musicians on stage had to compete with some kind of boat race - yachts being one of the residents of Newport R.I.'s toys. Here in the grounds of the Fenham church the distractions were the passing buses and the psycho, electro, Deliveroo boys bringing a Sunday lunch to those who'd given cook the day-off.

Album review: Snorre Kirk - Top Dog

Stephen Riley (tenor sax on tks 1, 3, 4, 7, 10); Michael Blicher (alto/tenor sax on tks 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9); Magnus Hjorth (piano); Mads Køjlby (guitar); Anders Fjeldsted (bass); Snorre Kirk (drums)

A swinging album from Denmark influenced by the musical legacy of Count Basie. It has the feel of the original Basie band coupled with the more subtle approach of the later model. 

When critic Stanley Dance came up with the term 'mainstream' to cover the music inspired by the jazz that flourished in the pre-bebop/swing era years this is probably close to what he had in mind if he was alive today - or maybe not. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Sue Ferris Quintet @ Opus 4 Jazz Club, Darlington - June 16

Sue Ferris (tenor sax, alto sax); Graham Hardy (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ben Lawrence (keyboards); Andy Champion (double bass); Rob Walker (drums)

A double header, first a sold out lunchtime concert at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle, then down to Darlington to play an Opus 4 Jazz Club engagement at a sweltering Traveller's Rest. Yes, a busy day for the Sue Ferris Quintet. At the soon-to-be refurbished Traveller's Rest, the regular faces turned out, keen supporters of the monthly jazz night as they are, not to mention being big fans of Sue Ferris, who, we were to learn, has appeared annually at the West Auckland Road hostelry since 2004!

Customs House Big Band @ the Customs House, South Shields - June 16

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times* and the best of times were at the Customs House in South Shields where the band who were originally formed as a community band at the historic building  returned to where it all began for their annual concert.

CHBB don't cover the big band legends such as Miller, Goodman, Shaw, Basie,  Ellington, Herman or Kenton but lean more towards Sammy Nestico and Gordon Goodwin who seem to be the buzz names on the current big band scene. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Sue Ferris Quintet @ the Lit & Phil - June 16

(© Patti D)
Sue Ferris (tenor sax); Graham Hardy (trumpet/flugel); Ben Lawrence (piano); Andy Champion (double bass); Rob Walker (drums).

Once again, today's concert was sold out weeks in advance. And why not?!

Five exceptional musicians, individually well known in various other projects, who have obviously wanted to present this one. They loved playing it and we loved listening to it.

Most of the tunes were new to me (and others I guess) and not your Great American Songbook but very very interesting including a tune written by Paul Edis called McCoin a Phrase.

Album review: Harry Allen Orchestra - With Roses

Lucy Yeghiazaryan (vocals); Harry Allen (tenor sax, arranger); John DiMartino (piano); Mike Karn (bass).

Group one: + Warren Vaché, Freddie Hendrix (trumpet); John Allred (trombone); Grant Stewart (tenor sax); Aaron Kimmel (drums).

Group two: + Peter Anderson, Will Anderson (clarinet); Dan Block (bass clarinet); Steve Kenyon, Kathleen Nester (flute); Bryan Carter (drums).

An album that hits pay dirt from every angle. The original songs by composer Roger Frankham and co-writers Bruce Brown, Roger Schore and Mark Winkler bring to mind Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, Joni Mitchell and, had Porter or Hart been born later, maybe them too. The Great American Songbook is still open ... 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Album review: Liam Noble & Geoff Simkins - Lucky Teeth

Liam Noble (piano); Geoff Simkins (alto sax).

You couldn't make it up! An album inspired by an 1896 vaudevillian who, watched by a crowd of 5000,  caught a turnip on a fork held between his teeth that had been dropped from Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge 270 feet above.

Incredible? You betcha! However, even more incredible is the fact that I've got two duo albums by Liam Noble up for review on the same day ... you wait for a bus and then ...

The two are totally different, not least because no one is dropping turnips off bridges and the material is, in the main, far removed from the Billie Holiday material that Noble played on the Lewandowski album.

Nevertheless, both musicians on both albums gel.

Album review: Mark Lewandowski - A Bouquet (for Lady Day)

Mark Lewandowski (bass); Liam Noble (piano) + Heidi Vogel (vocal on 2 tks)

Lewandowski, an Englishman based in New York since 2017 and now a well-established and much respected part of that city's jazz community, hopped back across the Atlantic to record this delightful duo album with Liam Noble at the Vortex in London.

The duo had previously given a contemporary take on the music of Fats Waller and this time they turn their attention to some of the songs associated with Billie Holiday. Surprisingly the selection only includes two vocals, Billie's Blues and Left Alone, for which they used the unique, signature, sound of Heidi Vogel who does Billie proud.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Nights at the Turntable

As I mentioned in my review of Alyn Shipton's excellent biography of Gerry Mulligan, I was inspired to dig into the vinyl, the 45s and  the 10" LPs as well as the 78s and the cassettes.

An experience that was both musically rewarding as well as bringing back memories from my youth.

I was 15, had just left school and met a girl at a party who was three years older than me. She also worked in a local record shop. Yes, both Jarrow and Hebburn had record shops back then!

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