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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 ...


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.

Thu 27: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 27: Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 27: The Joni Project @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Joni Mitchell.
Thu 27: Lindsay Hannon’s Tom Waits for No Man @ Harbour View, Roker, Sunderland. 8:00pm.
Thu 27: Merlin Roxby @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. Ragtime piano. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 27: Loco House Band @ Bar Loco, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free.
Thu 27: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Garry Hadfield (keys); Adrian Beadnell (bass)

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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