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Bebop Spoken There

Ambrose Akinmusire: “ I am certainly always aware of what the masses are doing. And when I see too many people going one way, I'm going another way - even when I don't know what's over that way". DownBeat, March, 2024.

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.


16246 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 128 of them this year alone and, so far, 72 this month (Feb. 29).

From This Moment On ...


Mon 04: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 05: Jam session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Joe Steels, Paul Grainger, Michael Mather.

Wed 06: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 06: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 06: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 07: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 07: Ray Stubbs R & B All Stars @ The Schooner, South Shore Road, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Thu 07: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Ragtime piano.
Thu 07: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. Guests: Mark Toomey (alto sax); Donna Hewitt (tenor sax); Garry Hadfield (keys); Ron Smith (bass); Mark Hawkins (drums). 8:30pm.

Fri 08: Noel Dennis Quartet @ The Old Library, Auckland Castle. 1:00pm. £8.00. Noel Dennis (trumpet, flugelhorn); Rick Laughlin (keyboards); Mick Shoulder (double bass); Tim Johnston (drums).
Fri 08: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 08: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free. CANCELLED! Back on March 15.
Fri 08: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.

Sat 09: Alex Fawcett Band + Lindsay Hannon Blues Trio @ Sedgefield Parish Hall. 7:00pm. £15.00. A Sedgefield Rock & Blues Club event. Tickets:
Sat 09: Shunyata Improvisation Group @ Cullercoats Watch House. 8:00pm. Donations. A Watch House renovation fundraising concert.
Sat 09: Ray Stubb’s R&B All Stars @ The Peacock, Sunderland. 6:00pm. Free. Gig in the downstairs bar.

Sun 10: Am Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:30pm. Free.
Sun 10: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 10: Salty Dog @ The Lounge, Blyth. 4:00pm. Free.
Sun 10: Vintage Explosion @ Wylam Brewery, Newcastle.
Sun 10: Fraser Fifield: Secret Path Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 10: Jazz Jam @ Fabio's, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Mon 11: Matthew Forster Quartet @ Yamaha Music School, Seaforth St., Blyth NE24 1AY. 1:00 - 1:45pm. £8.00. + bf.
Mon 11: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 12: Lewis Watson Quartet @ Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. 7:30pm.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

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. 

Soon he was reaching inside to adjust and sometimes start various devices, scraping the strings with postcards or wood blocks, plucking and stroking the strings with bare hands, whilst often simultaneously playing notes on the keyboard with varying tonal results before proceeding to incorporate voice-activated toys, and tape recorders playing into open strings, plus whistles ..... all to the overall effect of producing a sonic landscape with a huge mix of textures and rhythms.

Maybe it was a depiction of a piano being hauled over rocks close to a busy beach whilst someone was attempting to play it, but hey, each to his own and as they say, beauty (or surprise and intrigue) is in the eye (ear) of the beholder. But his technique, inventiveness and passion were unquestionably joyous and engaging.

He briefly reverted back to the keyboard before playing the strings directly with his fingers then incorporating more toys into the mix. Overall this solo performance easily showed Beresford’s drive and ability to give a freshly improvised diverse and complex sonic experience.

The second set brought Butcher, Marshall and Beresford to the stage, who played a wonderful set of freely improvised music. Starting off with individual percussive effects, the piece developed with no significant 'leader' as such, just occasional jumping off points thrown in by any and each of the players.  

Beresford spent more time at the keyboard (although not resisting the temptation to make use of the piano lid too!) but still reached in to entice other sounds from inside the piano. Butcher and Marshall both showing diversity and dexterity from their instruments. Again, it was sonically driven. Once or twice there was a near-outbreak of a recognisable tune or riff, but maybe I was mistaken as these were so fleeting, and if so, were well disguised. An excellent set played to a very attentive and receptive audience, which was quite sizeable for a Friday evening in Newcastle, and a great evening for those attending and witnessing such serious fun.  

The two musical sets were preceded by an interview conducted by Andy Hamilton (author of the book mentioned earlier) with Steve Beresford. Not a formal interview by any means, more of a chat which provided the opportunity to hear some of Beresford’s background and reminiscences of playing  with various musicians of varying styles and temperament.  

Beresford noted that whilst free improvisation is often referred to as 'improv'  it is (for him) better termed  'spontaneous music'  since he very much dislikes the casual term 'improv'.  True improvisation is not premeditated, and he enjoys the moments when things go wrong - as is often the case when using electronics as part of a performance. He seems to relish the challenge of finding a way out by thinking on his feet, in real time, whilst keeping both the music and audience engaged. This prompted a quote from Theodore Adorno  'A symphony in which nothing can go wrong, is a symphony in which nothing happens'.  I guess this is where the element of surprise turns into delight!

I find it's always interesting to listen to performers talk about their work, especially in the context of interacting with other performers, or even with the performance space. There is a lot going on which they are fully aware of apart from time itself it would seem, if there is no clock in sight.  Beresford recalls playing in a group, and drawing to a close after playing for some time, which turned out to be just 5 minutes - indicating the performer can be in a different state of mind once fully engaged with the music. He also briefly mentioned there is no pre-planning with other players, there is usually very little discussion of where to start or how it might flow. And rarely thinks ahead of what to play next - it is all in the moment.  Quite a fascinating insight from a relatively short interview and a useful introduction, setting the context for the two sets which were to follow.

Ken Drew

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