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Bebop Spoken There

Tineke Postma: “ I had a huge crush on him [Sting] when I was a teenager ". Jazzwise, June 2024.

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Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

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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.


16476 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 356 of them this year alone and, so far, 68 this month (May 24).

From This Moment On ...


Tue 28: Bold Big Band @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Wed 29: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 29: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 29: Jazz Night @ The Tannery, Hexham. 7:00-9:00pm. Free. The first night of a new jam session!
Wed 29: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 30: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 30: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 30: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests Josh Bentham (sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Garry Hadfield (keys); Adrian Beadnell (bass);

Fri 31: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 31: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 31: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 31: Castillo Nuevo Trio @ Revoluçion de Cuba, Newcastle. 5:30pm. Free.
Fri 31: Borealis @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 7:30pm. CANCELLED!
Fri 31: Redwell @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.


Sat 01: Enrico Tomasso’s Swing Company @ St Augustine's Parish Centre, Darlington. 12:30pm. Darlington New Orleans Jazz Club.
Sat 01: Play More Jazz! workshop @ The Globe, Newcastle. 1:30pm. Tutor: Steve Glendinning.
Sat 01: Hop, Skiffle & Jump: The Story of Skiffle @ 1719, Hendon, Sunderland. 6:00-9:00pm.
Sat 01: Lindsay Hannon’s Tom Waits for No Man @ Dry Water Arts, Amble. 7:00pm. £15.00.
Sat 01: John Garner & John Pope @ Victoria Tunnel, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 7:00pm.
Sat 01: Milne-Glendinning Band @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.

Sun 02: Musicians Unlimited @ West Hartlepool RFC, Hartlepool. 12 noon. Two sets (12 noon-1:00pm & 2:00-3:00pm). ‘Sunday Big Band Blast meets WHRFC’s Classic Car Show’.
Sun 02: Smokin’ Spitfires @ The Cluny, Newcastle. 12:45pm. £7.50.
Sun 02: Mark Williams Trio @ Central Bar, Gateshead. 2:00pm. £10.00.
Sun 02: Sax Choir @ The Globe, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 02: New Century Ragtime Orchestra @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 2:30pm. Free. A 'Jar on the Bar' gig. A 'pint sized' NCRO gig/rehearsal session feat. Dave Hignett, Jim McBriarty, Gavin Lee, Keith Stephen, Phil Rutherford with special guest drummer Nick Ward.
Sun 02: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 02: Anth Purdy @ The Quakerhouse, Darlington. 6:30pm. Free. ‘Swing Jazz Guitar’.
Sun 02: MSK @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.

Mon 03: John Garner & John Pope @ Yamaha Music School, Blyth. 1:00pm. £8.00.
Mon 03: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Friday, September 08, 2023

Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle - August 31

Merlin Roxby (piano)

Because of my appreciation of the musical assessment skills of Russell, one of BSHs expert and indefatigable reviewers, I know that when he says there is a musician or band worth checking out then thats a sure fire tip. He particularly has the ability to sniff out quality new and young musicians whether they are busking on the street, taking a back seat role in a jam session or playing to select audiences (sic) in a small bar. So when he started to mention a young piano player who has a residency at the Prohibition Bar in Pink Lane and that he specialised in ragtime and stride piano styles (some of my long time favourite piano music) then I knew I had to go and have a listen.

I got into stride and boogie woogie piano playing as a teenager because there was a local pianist who was a great fan of Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons as well as James P Johnson and Fats Waller. I managed to persuade a schoolmate whose father had some of the original 78s to lend them to me. I must admit I was slow giving them back and happened to leave school with them.

Around Central Station and its environs is not an area I frequent a great deal, particularly at night, so I hadnt actually been in the Prohibition Bar since it became itself after taking over from the Jazz Café. I wasnt sure what to expect when I entered the Bar - a louche 1920s' vibe maybe?

To my eyes the inside hadnt changed very much from Jazz Café days except the large wooden bar counter which always seemed to me to take up far too much of the room has been replaced by a much smaller version tucked away at one side. But as there is  now a stage at the back there seems to be no more space for customers than there was before. However, space for customers was not a particular problem on this night and a few of those that were there might possibly have qualified as louche but in a 2020s rather than 1920s way.

I dont know what the opposite of louche is but looking at the piano player he might have been getting pretty close to it. A nice, serious young man my mother would have said as Mr Roxby was completely focused on the piano and the tune he was playing. The film The Sting had introduced me to Scott Joplins music via the playing of Joshua Rifkin and that encouraged me to go to the musical source. Here was someone playing Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer and maybe a few more Joplin tunes expertly and authentically. Then some stride pieces and others that I couldnt place stylistically but were of the appropriate genre (although I did recognise the theme from Top Cat). Also it sounded to me as if a fine boogie woogie piece slipped into the second set.

Roxbys performance style is rather unusual in that he plays tune after tune without introductions or comment. He quickly flicks through a voluminous file of music sheets in front of him picking out his next piece and begins playing without further ado. I have to say I like this. It makes a change from numerous performers (of all kinds) at Sage Gateshead who ramble on and inevitably say at some point "Its great to be in Newcastle".

To my ears Roxby is a fine piano player who has dedicated himself to playing the music of the 1920s and 30s as authentically as possible and is doing it very well (without confining himself to that). Where else could one hear this music on a regular basis?  And it is worth hearing.

A name to conjure with, maybe, but certainly a piano player to check out and listen to.

Also a tip of my fedora to Prohibition Bar for giving him the opportunity to play on a regular basis. JC

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