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Bebop Spoken There

Billy Boy Arnold: “As long as you don't think old you're good.” - DownBeat, December, 2023.

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...


16061 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 15 years ago. 1068 of them this year alone and, so far, 22 this month (Dec. 11).

From This Moment On ...


Tue 12: Stu Collingwood Organ Trio @ Forum Music Centre, Darlington. 7:00pm. £10.00.

Wed 13: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 13: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 13: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 13: Bold Big Band @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. 7:30pm.
Wed 13: Giles Strong Quartet @ Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle. 7:30pm.

Thu 14: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 14: Hot Fingers @ The Lubetkin Theatre, Peterlee. 7:00pm. £10.00.
Thu 14: After Hours Student Jazz Jam @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free.
Thu 14: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. . Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 14: Niffi Osiyemi Trio @ Harbour View, Sunderland. 8:00pm. Free.
Thu 14: Mo Scott ‘Little Mo’s Festive Appearance’ @ The Schooner, Gateshead. 8:00pm. Free.
Thu 14: Tees Hot Club w. Kevin Eland, Josh Bentham, Garry Hadfield, Adrian Beadnell @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 9:00pm.

Fri 15: Paul Edis @ Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. SOLD OUT!
Fri 15: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 15: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 15: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms, Monkseaton. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 15: Paul Skerritt @ Black Horse Inn, Crook. From 7:00pm.
Fri 15: Paul Edis: A Jazzy Christmas @ St Cuhtbert's Centre, Crook. 7:30pm. £15.00. SOLD OUT! Waiting list open.
Fri 15: Zoë Gilby Trio @ Seventeen Nineteen, Hendon, Sunderland. 7:30pm. £12.00. POSTPONED!
Fri 15: Strictly Smokin' Big Band @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle. 8:00pm. First night of two. SOLD OUT!
Fri 15: Darlington Big Band @ Traveller’s Rest, Darlington. 8:00pm. £10.00. Opus 4 Jazz Club.
Fri 15: Baghdaddies @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £14.00.; £10.00.

Sat 16: Paul Edis: A Jazzy Christmas @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 2:00pm. A Jazzy Christmas + Jambone.
Sat 16: Porritt & Barrett & Friends Xmas Special @ Cullercoats Watch House. 7:00pm. £4.00.
Sat 16: Milne-Glendinning Band @ The Vault, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free.
Sat 16: Red Kites Jazz Band @ The Staithes Café, Gateshead. 7:00pm--9:00pm.
Sat 16: Hayley's Little Big Band @ Ellingham Village Hall, Chathill. 7:30pm. £12.00., £8.00.
Sat 16: Paul Edis: A Jazzy Christmas @ The Glasshouse, Gateshead. 8:00pm.
Sat 16: Strictly Smokin' Big Band @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Second night of two.

Sun 17: Red Kites Jazz Band @ Gibside Chapel, nr. Rowlands Gill. 1:00-2:30pm.
Sun 17: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 17: Revolutionaires @ Tyne Bar, Newcastle. 4:00pm. Free. Rock ‘n’ roll excellence!
Sun 17: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Alehouse, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 17: The Globe Xmas Party @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. Multi-bill inc. David Gray’s Flextet + jam session.
Sun 17: Paul Edis: A Jazzy Christmas @ Queen's Hall, Hexham. 7:30pm. £17.00., £15.00.
Sun 17: Hayley's Little Big Band @ Amble Parish Hall. 7:30pm. £12.00., £6.00.
Sun 17: Snake Davis Trio @ St John’s Hall, Snods Edge, Shotley Bridge DH8 9TJ. 7:30pm. £15.00. from 07766 037893.

Mon 18: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 18: Paul Edis: A Jazzy Christmas @ The Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Album review: The Hamar Concert

Espen Berg (piano).

If not hot then certainly warm on the heels of his first solo piano outing, The Trondheim Concert, which came out in October last year, Berg now releases another album of solo improvisations. Trondheim made it into my personal top two of 2022 and I suspect that The Hamar Concert will finish up near the top of my list this year. Whilst Trondheim had taken 3 years to make it from recording to release, this set took about 370 days as it was recorded around the time that Trondheim was released, though I see from his website that there has been a Nidaros Concert release in between.

On Hamar, as on Trondheim, Berg displays a wonderful, romantic lyricism. The (not so) imaginatively titled first piece Part 1a opens with a sparse waltz as if Berg is trying out the piano. Whilst this piece builds across its six minutes, even when the left hand adds weight there is still a tragic, elegiac melody riding above. It’s a Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, and we know how that ends. By contrast 1b is all weight for its opening section, thumping bass chords dominate proceedings before they fall away and are followed by elegant, wandering musings. The closing section is a mad, whirling chase; a perfect ballet score.

Part 2 is the soundtrack to a dripping spring thaw. More of that lovely, delicate elegance, though, as it develops, something more tragic begins to undermine the mood. The weight of the left hand begins to overwhelm the right before a balance is struck and they play intricately around each other; the right hand melody eventually wins out. It is really lovely stuff. Part 3 is a dramatic highlight. Almost Wagnerian it is full of sound and fury; an engrossing dense deluge of notes that breaks into a dancing film noir soundtrack. (I don’t know if Berg has written any soundtracks. Perhaps, he should.)

Part 4 is the pastoral piece, a perfect accompaniment for wide open Northumberland skies. Tumbling notes, an optimistic melody has a sparse rhythm line beneath which rises up to join the front line. I’ve already used the word ‘Lyrical’ and I wonder if these melodies would suffer or benefit from words to enhance the mood. (I see from his website that he has worked with singer Silje Nergaard - a favourite of mine from when I used to play cassettes in the car - in the past so perhaps she could have a go!).

Part 5 simply confirms what many will suspect from listening to this album, namely that Berg has three hands. It is elegant, dense, stunningly intricate but it is not mechanical or purely craftsmanship. This is rich, emotional music.

Part 6 is a joyful r 'n' b stomper of the old school to which Berg adds his own flourishes. It’s exciting, entertaining and uplifting all at once. Part 7 is more ballet music. There is so much movement and flow in some of these pieces that it is impossible not to think in terms of moving bodies.

He leaves us with another piece that embodies the elegance and delicacy that has featured across the previous hour. It’s a melody of frills over a simple rhythm, and, as with much else on the album is a thing of beauty.

I’m getting to really like Espen Berg and I have a nasty feeling that, as he is so prolific with his trio and various other groupings, it could turn out to be a very expensive addiction, probably requiring another visit to the home storage department at IKEA.

More information about Berg and his various groups and projects (and some good photos) can be found on his WEBSITE. He doesn’t have any solo dates in the UK planned but he is in London for a few days in February next year with Silje Nergaard at Pizza Express so a ticket for that might have to go on my Christmas list. Dave Sayer

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