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Bebop Spoken There

Dee Dee Bridgewater: “ Our world is becoming a very ugly place with guns running rampant in this country... and New Orleans is called the murder capital of the world right now ". Jazzwise, May 2024.

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Postage

16382 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 262 of them this year alone and, so far, 59 this month (April 20).

From This Moment On ...

April

Wed 24: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 24: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 24: Sinatra: Raw @ Darlington Hippodrome. 7:30pm. Richard Shelton.
Wed 24: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 24: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.

Thu 25: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 25: Jim Jams @ King’s Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Jim Jams’ funk collective.
Thu 25: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 25: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.
Thu 25: Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 25: Kate O’Neill, Alan Law & Paul Grainger @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass); Garry Hadfield (keys).

Fri 26: Graham Hardy Quartet @ The Gala, Durham. 1:00pm. £8.00.
Fri 26: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 26: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 26: East Coast Swing Band @ Morpeth Rugby Club. 7:30pm. £9.00. (£8.00 concs).
Fri 26: Paul Skerritt with the Danny Miller Big Band @ Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Fri 26: Abbie Finn’s Finntet @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. Opus 4 Jazz Club.

Sat 27: Abbie Finn Trio @ The Vault, Darlington. 6:00pm. Free.
Sat 27: Papa G’s Troves @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 28: Musicians Unlimited @ Jackson’s Wharf, Hartlepool. 1:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: More Jam Festival Special @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm. Free. A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.
Sun 28: Swing Dance workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00-4:00pm. Free (registration required). A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.
Sun 28: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 28: Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox: The '10' Tour @ Glasshouse International Centre for Music, Gateshead. 7:30pm. £41.30 t0 £76.50.
Sun 28: Alligator Gumbo @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.
Sun 28: Jerron Paxton @ The Cluny, Newcastle. Blues, jazz etc.

Mon 29: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 29: Michael Young Trio @ The Engine Room, Sunderland. 6:30-8:30pm. Free. ‘Opus de Funk’ (a tribute to Horace Silver).

Tue 30: Celebrate with Newcastle Jazz Co-op. 5:30-7:00pm. Free.
Tue 30: Swing Manouche @ Newcastle House Hotel, Rothbury. 7:30pm. A Coquetdale Jazz event.
Tue 30: Clark Tracey Quintet @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ’10 Years a Co-op’ festival event.

Friday, June 30, 2023

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.

This time around it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of Shakti, though we’re still several weeks shy of fifty years since I saw the Mahavishnu Orchestra; McLaughlin’s previous band. That night in '87 it was Zakir Hussain’s turn to blow my mind.

 

It’s almost forty years since my last visit to Hammersmith and it’s much bigger than I remember it and my eyesight is much worse. The four of them arrived to rapturous applause and all sat cross-legged on the additional stage. Opening track was from the original group and was followed by others from the three original albums, some from the Remember Shakti albums of the late eighties/early nineties and some from the new album which arrived in the post shortly before I set off for the Smoke.

 

They were soon joined by singer Shankar Mahadevan, a big deal in Asian communities I understand and there was a huge Asian contingency in the audience. In '87 I remember John receiving the biggest applause but tonight was about Zakir Hussain: one person shouted ‘love you Zakir’ promptly followed by ‘love you more’ which reminded me of the response to Pat Metheny at the Lowry in Manchester a few years back.

 

At age 81 John is still a phenomenon. He now plays electric guitar in Shakti, perhaps – like the twin-neck - he broke the custom acoustic he created to hint at the sound of a sitar, without patronising the music by playing one. In '97, with the absence of violinist L Shankar, we got Hariprasad Chaurasia playing bansuri flute (which was great) but it was also nice to have a fine violinist in Ganesh Rajagopalan this time. Ghatam and other Indian percussion was played by Selvaganesh, son of the late TH (Vikku) Vinayakaram, the original ghatam player who came back for Remember Shakti.

 

Shankar featured more prominently than I would have liked but there was plenty of konokol singing, at times from them all together (apart from McLaughlin), which was extraordinarily powerful.

 

But the night belonged to Zakir Hussain, who ought to be more famous than Elton (who should be less famous than Zakir),  a musician straight from the Gods and the esteem he’s held in by fellow musicians and the audience is clear to see. For those of us fortunate not to be old enough to remember Bird and Diz or Miles and Trane, John and Zakir is historic.

 

Support came from a very short set from French Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le and McLaughlin’s fellow Yorkshireman and band-member in Fourth Dimension Gary Husband switching between drums and keyboards. Some interesting innovations but also some soundscapes that reminded me of Pink Floyd, not a prog rock band I care for and not a prog rock band at all in the ears of many.

 

The last time I saw the Fourth Dimension I reviewed it for BSH and commented that – short of Shakti coming back together again – it would almost certainly be the last time. Surely that must be it. Steve T

1 comment :

Chris Kilsby said...

Thanks Steve - quite a night by the sound of it, one of a number of epoch-marking anniversary concerts. Maybe not marking the definitive end of an era, but certainly a reminder of time's passing, albeit in this case with McLaughlin retaining more of his remarkable powers than some of the veterans ambling around Glastonbury's stages this year.

While the big draw here was of course Zakir Hussain and JM, it seems the flame for this Indian strand of "jazz fusion" is being passed on, certainly with this band, and maybe elsewhere. I'm tempted to draw a small comparison with an Indo-fusion venture at the other end of the career journey, Leeds based Yaatri (https://lance-bebopspokenhere.blogspot.com/2022/07/yaatri-globe-newcastle-july-21.html#more). [Full declaration - my son is the drummer].

Yaatri toured UK-wide in May, to small but enthusiastic audiences, but seem to me to occupy an awkward niche fusing "prog", jazz and elements of classical Indian music. Present day (western) audiences seem less open to the Eastern canon than the older "hippy" generation (sorry Steve), and "South Asian heritage" audiences, in the UK at least, perhaps don't connect with the "jazz/prog" thing (cf the recent disappointing turnout for Jazz Orient, https://lance-bebopspokenhere.blogspot.com/2023/06/jazz-orient-customs-house-south-shields.html). This is a shame, since as Steve notes, extraordinary power can be found in Indian rhythms and progressions.

We were lucky to catch Yaatri in Leeds with a large(-ish!) crowd who responded rapturously to this power and emotion. The energy was stoked up by the addition of young tabla virtuoso Zuheb Ahmed Khan (flown out from Delhi for the tour) and last minute local recruit Vijay Venkat, a quite remarkable Indian flute player. The effectiveness and emotional power of the merger of east and west surprised me and I think has to be heard live to really "get it". Speaking to Zuheb afterwards, all was revealed, as while his upbringing has had much rigid classical tradition (and incredible hours of practice...) he is also familiar with long "jam sessions" with great improvisational freedom. So, while our ears differentiate between the tonality and palette of the music, the main objectives are the same and compatible.

Hopefully the Shakti reprise will spark off more collaborations, and we will get to access more of these incredible Indian musicians. Chris K

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