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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.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Book review: Peter Jones' Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen

Jazz singer and acclaimed author of bios on Mark Murphy and Jon Hendricks, Peter Jones has scored a hat trick with Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen. Despite lacking the assistance of his subject, Jones’ 368 page tome is insightful, heavily researched and spares no detail. It picks up the Steely Dan tale post 1994 when Brian Sweeting’s Reelin' in the Years was published. This includes new and valuable coverage of Fagen's solo albums Morph the Cat (2006) and Sunken Condos (2012) which are welcome and important additions to Fagen’s oeuvre.

Jones' analogies between SD and the Beatles do ring somewhat true with the “who wrote what” question as is the case with Lennon/McCartney and, for that matter, Ellington/Strayhorn. Especially with the strong love for and the jazz influences evident in the music of Fagen and his band, and writing partner, Walter Becker.

As session guitarist, Jay Graydon  (who played on some SD albums) says - “there is no doubt that Jones has put a lot of work into doing accurate research”. Being a film noir buff  myself, I can only agree with Jones’ note - ‘Steely Dan were the closest thing in rock music to film noir’. Indeed so, as the soundtracks to the film noir genre were often jazz themed. Examples of which are Miles Davis’ improvised score to the French film Elevator to the Gallows (Lift to the Scaffold in the UK), Johnny Mandel’s I Want to Live (1959) as well as John Dankworth’s The Servant (1963).  One could argue that Steely Dan’s 1970s' output would carry on this practice as they also did in utilising jazz musicians like Victor Feldman, Tom Scott, Pete Christlieb, Steve Gadd and Wayne Shorter as well as funky soulsters such as Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey and Paul Griffin.

Jones also fully explores the love and devotion for jazz by Becker and Fagen. Nightfly was actually the radio moniker of Mort Fega a legendary jazz radio host on WEVD FM in NYC in the early 1960s.  A programme Fagen listened to regularly as a teenager.

There is also a wonderful discussion on page 248 of Donald and Walter’s appearance on pianist Marian McPartland’s long running radio show Piano Jazz in 2002 on NPR (America’s equivalent to the BBC).  When asked who his favourite guitarist was, Walter answered Grant Green. Not a name one would have expected from a member of a rock band. At the end of the programme Donald and Marian performed a duet of Mercer Ellington’s Things Ain’t What They Used To Be, which was one of the few occasions where they recorded a jazz tune apart from their version of Ellington’s East St Louis Toodle-oo from their Pretzel Logic LP in 1974.

Nightfly is a comprehensive, critical biography that will appeal not only to both Fagen and Steely Dan devotees but to any music fans that relish the behind the scenes insights of the vinyl era. Frank Griffith*

Peter Jones, Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen Chicago Review Press. ISBN-10: 1641606878

*Please note that a paperback edition will be published in April 2024 with an added chapter examining Fagen’s songwriting.

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