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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.


16527 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 407 of them this year alone and, so far, 29 this month (June 12).

From This Moment On ...


Sun 16: Jason Isaacs @ Stack, Seaburn SR6 8AA. 1:00-2:45pm. Free.
Sun 16: Paul Skerritt @ Hibou Blanc, Newcastle. 2:00pm.
Sun 16: Gaz Hughes Trio @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm. £10.00.
Sun 16: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 16: Gaz Hughes Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm.
Sun 16: Jazz Jam @ Fabio’s Bar, Saddler St., Durham. 8:00pm. Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Mon 17: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Mon 17: ‘Tower of Power’ @ The Library Bar, Saddler St., Durham . 7:30pm.Free. A Durham University Jazz Society event. All welcome.

Tue 18: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Victoria & Albert Inn, Seaton Delaval. 12:30pm. £13.00. ‘Jazz, Sausage ‘n’ Mash’…’with Onion Gravy’!
Tue 18: Jam Session @ The Black Swan, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free. House trio: Stu Collingwood, Paul Grainger, Tim Johnston.
Tue 18: Libby Goodridge & Ben Davies @ The Lost Wanderer, Leazes Park Road, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £6.00. Triple bill, inc. Goodridge & Davies (jazz).

Wed 19: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 19: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 19: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.

Thu 20: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 20 Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Brunswick Methodist Church, Newcastle. 2:00pm. £4.00. Note new venue!
Thu 20: Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan @ The Fire Station, Sunderland. 7:30pm. £29.00., £23.00. Folk/jazz duo.
Thu 20: Richard Herdman & Ray Burns @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 20: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Josh Bentham (tenor sax); Donna Hewitt (alto sax); Dave Archbold (keys); Dave Harrison (trumpet); Ron Smith (bass).

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.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

What's New (feat. Lucky Thompson, Hank Jones)

Lucky Thompson would have been 100-years- old today. He had a big sound to rival that of his contemporaries Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. I never heard him live but his playing, and this track in particular, on the Milt Jackson album The Jazz Skyline is one of my treasured memories from my days at RAF Manby deep in the heart of Lincolnshire - it was the only jazz album in the billet! 

Tenor saxophone playing to the nth degree. Lance 

Jazz Time Aycliffe Radio - Sundays 6.30-8.00pm (repeated Tuesdays 8.00-9.30pm)

Playlist 16/06/24 (repeated Tuesday 18/06/24)

Fathers’ Day: Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra.

Requests: Clark Tracey Quintet, Barney Kessel/Herb Ellis/Charlie Byrd.

Fathers’ Day (cont.): Artie Shaw (Kitty Kallen), Brad Mehldau, Benny Golson, Earl Hines, Cannonball Adderley.

Memories: Chick Corea, Erroll Garner, McCoy Tyner.

What’s On in the NE: Dean Stockdale, Matt Carmichael, Abbie Finn.

Aycliffe Radio is now available on DAB in County Durham & the Darlington area.

Musicians Unlimited @ Dorman's Jazz Club, Middlesbrough - June 13

A wonderful night of music from this long established (35 years) award winning Hartlepool  big band led by saxophonist Mick Donnelly.

A great start was made with Oliver Nelson's Emancipation Blues, a slow subdued intro preceded the full big band sound and with an alto solo from Mark Toomey and trumpet from Bill Watson, it clearly showed the high standard of the musicians.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Preview: Gaz Hughes - Hexham & Newcastle (Sunday 16)

You're yearning for an explosive bebop gig? Look no further! Tomorrow (Sunday) right here in the Bebop Spoken Here heartland there will be not one but two opportunities to catch the Gaz Hughes Trio. A welcome visitor to the region, drummer Gaz returns with his ace trio - Andrzej Baranek (piano) and Gavin Barras (double bass) - to play numbers from the trio's latest album, Nuclear Bebopalypse

Gaz's gigs are many and memorable...Gaz's all-star Art Blakey set (Gosforth Civic Theatre), Dean Stockdale's superb Oscar P set (Lit & Phil) and trio gigs across the region. At three o'clock tomorrow Gaz and the boys will be tearing it up at Queen's Hall, Hexham before moving on down the road to the Globe on Railway Street in Newcastle for an eight o'clock start. Russell      

Strictly Smokin' Big Band: Ella & Ellington @ Queen's Hall, Hexham - June 14

Michael Lamb (MD, trumpet); Dick Stacey, Billy Bradshaw, Pete Tanton (trumpets); Kieran Parnaby, Mark Ferris, Chris Kurgi-Smith, John Flood (trombones); Steve Summers (alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet), Keith Robinson  (alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet); Jamie Toms (tenor sax, soprano sax); Matt Forster  (tenor sax); Sue Ferris (baritone sax, soprano sax); Graham Don (piano); Pawel Jedrzejewski (guitar); Michael Whent (bass guitar); Guy Swinton (drums); Alice Grace (vocals)

Ella & Ellington. The SSBB's tour continues, this evening's concert a return visit to Beaumont Street, Hexham. The A-Team reported for duty, the stalls all but full, Michael Lamb's superb big band is on a roll. Evocative images of Ella, Duke et al projected onto a backcloth, the scene was set.

Lounge suits across the sections, a sequined Alice Grace out front, the Strictly Smokin' do it in style. Opening with Something's Gotta Give, the sound balance just right, vocalist AG heard loud and clear. Quite some start! More a potted history than a chronological sweep down the decades, Ella F, Edward K and their various collaborators - Billy Strayhorn, Chick Webb, Norman Granz, Nelson Riddle, Frank De Vol, Marty Paich et al - would receive name checks throughout the evening.

Jazz on the Tyne – What’s On & What’s New, Late June 2024

In the latest edition of the podcast, presenter Colin Muirhead looks ahead to local gigs featuring Gaz Hughes, Alan Barnes, Louise Dodds & Elchin Shirinov, Karine Polwart & Dave Milligan, Ant Law & Alex Hitchcock, Charlotte Keeffe, and Pete Tanton.  He also plays music from recent releases by Jo Harrop, Svetlana Marinchenko, and Gary Brunton.

Customs House Big Band @ the Customs House, South Shields - June 14

Peter Morgan (MD, bass trombone); Ian Robinson, Stephen Cratchett, Ken DeVere, Alan Catherall (trumpets); Dave Brocklesby, Pete Smith, Michael Fletcher (trombones); Alan Marshall, Sue Hurrell (alto sax); Josh Bentham, Joanne Adams (tenor sax); Russell Rogers (baritone sax); John Stephenson (piano); Bradley Johnston (guitar); Paul Carr (bass guitar); Paul Campbell (drums); Ruth Lambert (vocals)

A triple choice: Hexham, Germany or South Shields. Russell was at Hexham for SSBB, Germany was the setting for the biggest Scottish massacre since Glencoe so, it being a sunny summer's night in South Shields - it may be a thousand years before that happens again - I opted for the CHBB on their home ground.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Album review: Hyeonseon Baek - Longing (You & Me Music)

Hyeonseon Baek (vocals); Kevin Hays (piano); Linda May Han Oh (bass); Joechen Rueckert (drums) + Lucas Pino (tenor sax tks 1,4,6,10)

Korean singer Hyeonseon Baek arrived in NYC via Maastricht University, in The Netherlands and the New England Conservatory in Boston, Mass.

Upon first listening I was somewhat gender-confused, the name (pronounced Hen-son Bek) gave no clues and nor did the voice which initially had me thinking mezzo-contralto or maybe a tenor with a wide range. As Caravan rolled along I began to lean towards the latter and I was right although his wide range made my earlier hesitation understandable.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Press release: Join us for the 2024 Lancaster Jazz Festival programme launch!

It's that time of year again! Join us on Wednesday 3 July at Kanteena for the 2024 Lancaster Jazz Festival programme launch!

For this year's launch, we're delighted to bring Fergus Quill back to Lancaster, along with his quintet who will be performing ¡Up Yours! - Fergus Quill Quintet play Xero Slingsby.

¡Up Yours! Fergus Quill Plays Xero Slingsby is a celebration of the music of Xero Slingsby, a Leeds punk/jazz icon of the 1980s, and his trio The Works. The project brings a reimagined take to Xero's tunes, keeping the same high-energy spirit and grit whilst reintroducing the music to a 21st century audience.

Press release: Summer Jazz Camp Scotland returns to inspire a new generation

© Benjamin Ealovega

Aspiring jazz musicians can develop their skills with top instrumental tutors in an idyllic location in Scotland’s South Lanarkshire hills from 8th to 12th August. 

Now in its second year, Summer Jazz Camp Scotland aims to take jazz players to the next level in their musical journey under the guidance of a team led by internationally respected trumpeter Ryan Quigley and hugely experienced drummer Andrew Bain, the current Deputy Head of Jazz at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Located at Wiston Lodge, a Victorian hunting lodge near the attractive Clydesdale town of Biggar, the summer camp is designed to cover all aspects of jazz music, from the fundamentals of jazz theory to advanced techniques in big band and ensemble playing.

Press release: Phil Merriman Trio - The Roots Beneath

The Roots Beneath is the new album from The Phil Merriman Trio, due to be released on June 21. With a foundation grounded in classical technique, Phil Merriman studied jazz piano with John Taylor, steering his focus towards improvisation. Through this experience, Merriman has developed a distinctive compositional style that integrates instrumental contemporary jazz, with bold spontaneity and classical nuances. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Album review: Cal Tjader - Huracán (Liberation Hall)

Cal Tjader (vibes); Gary Foster (alto sax, flute); Kurt McGettrick (baritone sax); Ronald King, Alex Rodriguez (trumpets); Frank Rosolino (trombone); Rick Zunigar (guitar); Clare Fischer (elec. piano); Rob Fisher (bass); Willie Bobo (timbales); Ponch Sanchez (congas); Victor Pantoja (bongos, cowbell)

The third of three CDs from Liberation Hall, this one, recorded in Hollywood in 1978. Led by Cal Tjader - perhaps the most underrated of the name American vibraphonists - it features him in his oft-favoured Latin setting.

Unlike the recently reissued Dizzy Gillespie album on the same label this one hits the jackpot. The rhythms are crisper and sounding less contrived than on the Gillespie album and I got the feeling that I was at a street party in Rio and getting as high on the music as I was on the cachaca (38-48%).

Sue Ferris Quintet @ Newcastle House, Rothbury - June 11.

© Russell
Sue Ferris (tenor sax, flute); Graham Hardy (flugelhorn); Ben Lawrence (electric piano); Andy Champion (bass); John Bradford (drums)

“If you build it,” says Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, “they will come.” And lo, in Rothbury they did build it and lo further, they did come. This was the fourth in Coquetdale Jazz’s increasingly successful programme and with a quintet, their biggest band yet. So, having bought my ticket at the local delicatessen the week before, I donned my coolest shades as protection against the bright lights of Rothbury and headed north-west.

Tonight’s gig saw three members of the magisterial Voice of The North Jazz Orchestra on stage. The VOTN was an early victim of Tory austerity implemented by politicians who wouldn’t understand the word culture if you wrote it on the side of a banana milk-shake and threw it at them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Album review: Brian Landrus - Plays Ellington & Strayhorn (Palmetto Records)

Brian Landrus (baritone sax, bass sax, bass clarinet, contra alto clarinet, piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute); Dave Stryker (electric/acoustic bass); Jay Anderson (bass); Billy Hart (drums)

Brian Landrus isn't a saxophone player who doubles, no sir, he octuples! For this Ellington/Strayhorn set he used eight instruments and thanks to some jiggery pokery in the editing room he used them all simultaneously. His luscious baritone sax sound under-pinned by his other instruments plus, of course, Stryker's guitar and Billy Hart's sensitive drumming.

It's all clever stuff, far removed from Humph's One Man Went to Blow or even Bechet's 1941 one man band recordings, admirable as they were at the time. 

This Friday (June 14): Big Band concerts in South Shields And Hexham

Friday night is big band night with our two leading big bands playing at two different venues 30 or so miles apart.

If you live in and around Hexham then SSBB is a no-brainer. 

If you live in and around South Shields then CHBB is a no-brainer.

If you live somewhere in between then spin a coin as both bands are first class each with a great singer, tight section work, excellent soloists and polished presentation. Lance

Fri 14: Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. ‘Ella & Ellington’. 7:30pm. £18.00.

Fri 14: Customs House Big Band @ Customs House, South Shields. 7:30pm. Donations (£3.00 - £15.00.).

Mick Shoulder's Swing Manouche @ Blaydon Jazz Club - June 10

© Roly Veitch
Mick Shoulder (guitar); Dave Smith (rhythm guitar); Jim McBriarty (clarinet); Paul Grainger (double bass)

A couple of lads from County Durham and two from Tyneside playing all things 'Django' in a community pub in Blaydon-on-Tyne tells a story. Whether it be 'Gypsy jazz', 'Hot Club' or 'Manouche' the legacy of Django Reinhardt is far reaching. Guitarist Mick Shoulder and rhythm guitar partner Dave Smith (the pair recently returned from a pilgrimage to Samois-sur-Seine) sat down alongside clarinettist Jim McBriarty (string bassist Paul Grainger upstanding) to play some Django Reinhardt. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Emma Fisk's Hot Club du Nord @ the Glasshouse - June 9

© Russell
Emma Fisk (violin); James Birkett, Dave Smith (guitars); Bruce Rollo (bass)

Over the years I've heard Emma's Hot Club gang so many times that I've ran out of superlatives. In trying to find something new to extol the virtues of this Reinhardt/Grappelli inspired quartet I'd exhausted Roget's Thesaurus and was about to venture into Google when it hit me - Cole Porter! In his song You're the Top he covers all the bases.

After weighing up Mr Porter's seventy accolades I narrowed them down to two - a hot tamale or Napoleon Brandy. I opted for the latter as even though he wasn't too popular in this country Napoleon was Emperor of France and the music did, more or less, originate in France so Napoleon Brandy it is.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Album review: The Cannonball Adderley Quintet - Live in Montreal May 1975 (Liberation Hall)

Cannonball Adderley (alto/soprano sax); Nat Adderley (cornet/trumpet); Michael Wolff (piano/Rhodes); Walter Booker (bass); Roy McCurdy (drums)
. May 3, 1975. 

Another reissue from Liberation Hall. Recorded live in Montreal it is a welcome addition to the Cannonball canon particularly as I don't think the original issue made it across 'the pond'.

It's a cracker and it's hard to believe Cannonball Adderley would have a debilitating stroke leading to his death just three months after this concert - he was only 46-years-old. One of jazz's many tragedies.

He's very much alive here his playing and announcing both profound and humorous.

Jazz Time Aycliffe Radio - Sundays 6.30-8.00pm (repeated Tuesdays 8.00-9.30pm)

Playlist 09/06/24 (repeated Tuesday 11/06/24)

Congratulations to Dean and Lindsey Stockdale: Ella Fitzgerald.

Celebrating Cole Porter: Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald.

Requests from Darlington New Orleans Club: Bunny Berigan, Wes Montgomery Quartet, Billie Holiday, Ottilie Patterson, Ted Lewis and his Band, Fats Waller/Zutty Singleton, Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle, Stéphane Grappelli, Gil Scott-Heron.

Cole Porter Remembered: MJQ, Nina Simone, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Sarah Vaughan.

Request: Louis Armstrong.

What’s on in the NE: Birkett and Fisk, Gaz Hughes.

Cole Porter: Wynton Marsalis.

Aycliffe Radio is now available on DAB in County Durham & the Darlington area.

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Album review: Glasshopper – I’m Not Telling You Anything (Clonmell Jazz Social)

Jonathan Chung (tenor sax, effects); James Kitchman (electric guitar, effects); Corrie Dick (drums).

This is another of those ‘Wot no bass player?’ groups that seem to be popping up all over at the moment. Jonathan Chung is the lead man in this outfit but Corrie Dick has a record of playing with all the right people in recent years and James Kitchman was a solid addition to the Rob Luft and Elina Duni performance I saw a few months back. He’s also a local lad, hailing from the wilds of Hexham.*

And so, here they are, back for Glasshopper’s second album after 2020’s Fortune Rules. Immediately, what I like about I’m Not Telling You Anything is that it’s just the right amount of weird, just the right amount of fun, just the right amount of loud. It’s the Baby Bear’s album of the year in that, just at the moment, it’s just right.

Album review: Dizzy Gillespie - Soul and Salvation (Liberation Hall)

Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Newman (trumpet); Garnett Brown, Benny Powell (trombone); James Moody, Joe Farrell, Seldon Powell, Eddie Pazani, Jerome Richardson (reeds); Al Williams, Ernie Hayes (piano/organ); Cornell Dupree, Billy Butler, Carl Lynch, Wally Richardson (guitar); Jimmy Tyrell (bass); Ray Lucas (drums); George Devens (perc); Ed Bland (composer/arranger) + unknown vocal group.

Whilst it's always exciting to hear Dizzy and Moody this reissue leaves me slightly underwhelmed and that's being polite.

Recorded circa 1969 and released on the Pye label as Souled Out it seems to have been an attempt to cash in on the then current vogue for soul and, in the process, probably alienated fans of both Dizzy and, say, Ray Charles. I doubt if many of those fans forked out the asking price of £1.45 when they could have bought a Ray Charles' album for not much more or The Young Lions featuring Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Frank Strozier, Bobby Timmons, Bob Cranshaw and 'Tootie' Heath for £1.30 and still have enough left for a pint of bitter.

Jalen Ngonda @ Newcastle University Students' Union - June 7

Jalen Ngonda (guitar, vocals); ? (bass guitar); ? (drums)

First Kansas Smitty's lockdown livestreams, now the world. Jalen Ngonda is touring worldwide, performing to sold out houses wherever he goes. This rescheduled Newcastle University Students' Union concert similarly attracting a capacity audience. All standing, drinks in plastic glasses, the merch stall groaning under the weight of vinyl albums and tour t-shirts at £25 a pop, we were there in anticipation of something special. 

The man-of-the-moment strolled out with his bass and drums support, finally we were about to hear the voice. Opening with Rapture, Jalen Ngonda's amazing falsetto cut through, the opening line - These eyes of mine are dying just to see you - eliciting cries of 'Wow!' from across the crowded room. Comparisons with Al Green and Marvin Gaye have been made, they're fully justified. Simply sensational. Don't You RememberThat's All I Wanted from You, the quality and strength of the voice scarcely believable. 

Make Whoopee This Thursday With The Indigo Jazz Voices @ The Globe

Carrie McCullock; Jenny Lingham; Paul Close; Jen Errington (individual singers)+ Alan Law (piano); Paul Grainger (bass); Rob Walker (drums)

Yes, you could be making whoopee this Thursday, June 13 because Making Whoopee is just one of the twenty songs that you'll hear, sung by these talented and experienced performers. Yes, I did say twenty songs, five from each singer, excellent value for a mere £5 admission at the door of the Globe.

Yes, the icing on the cake is the accompanying band as listed above, three musicians who are superbly skilled and well used to performing with singers. 

Yes, I'll tell you the names of some of the other songs, Too Marvelous For Words; Secret Love; Besame Mucho; but you must get along to the Globe for 7.45pm to find out what the other songs are. Don't miss this gig! Ann Alex

The House of the Black Gardenia @ Hoochie Coochie - June 7

© Sylvia

Elise Rana (vocals, washboard); Pete Tanton (trumpet); David Gray (trombone); Keith Robinson (reeds); Katja Roberts (violin); Elliott Rush (piano); Michael Littlefield (guitar, banjo, vocals); Neil Hopper (bass, sousaphone); Kit Haigh (drums)

The room was rammed. John West couldn't have squeezed any more in. It's always like this when the House of the Black Gardenia meet up with the swing dance fraternity. Inhibitions disappear. The dancers dance, the drinkers drink and the flirtatious flirt. I glanced enviously at a couple at the bar who seemed to be trying to eat each other.

However, all of that was forgotten when the band struck up with Tin Roof Blues. The sardines, sorry, the dancers smooched around the floor like they did in that movie They Shoot Horses Don't They? Everything changed though after an explosive drum break from Haigh. The tempo doubled and suddenly the shot and shell were flying. The horns were wailing, the washboard scrubbing and the rhythm section taking them down to New Orleans or maybe Harlem. It was hard to believe we were still in Newcastle.

Friday, June 07, 2024

Album review: Mike Holober - This Rock We’re on: Imaginary Letters (Palmetto Records)

Mike Holober (piano/composer/MD); Gotham Jazz Orchestra (see lower graphic for personnel)

Jazz writing for larger ensembles these days is becoming more and more complex with the ensembles larger, the inspirations more varied and the genre gaps ever narrowing.

The project description of This Rock We’re on: Imaginary Letters is described in the notes as ‘a meditation on the beauty of nature and the fate of the planet’. Holober has channelled those sentiments through the imagined words of six ‘protagonists’ each one an author, artist and/or activist who has dedicated their life to the natural world (more details can be found on the composer’s website HERE).

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Album review: Sam Newbould - Homing (Zennez Records)

Sam Newbould (alto sax/clarinet/voice); Bernard van Rossum (tenor sax); Xavi Torres (piano/synth/Wurlitzer); Jort Terwijn (basses); Guy Salamon (drums/perc) + Beth Aggett (voice)

Amsterdam based and a former member of Durham University Big Band, Newbould has, since digging up his north of England roots, developed a quite unique voice as both composer, arranger and instrumentalist. This was apparent on his previous album Bogus Notus (reviewed HERE in 2021) and even more so with this release.

Album review: Elaine Delmar - Speak Low (Ubuntu Music UBU0165)

Elaine Delmar (vocals); Barry Green (piano); Jim Mullen (guitar); Simon Thorpe (bass) + Andy Panayi (flute on Speak Low).

When it comes to singers male or female, past or present, any genre, anywhere, there are few who can match the sensitivity of Elaine Delmar and in this, her latest album recorded on January 8, 2023, that quality is displayed with her trademark subtlety.

Stars: Composed by Fred Hersch with lyrics by Norma Winstone is a challenge for any vocalist. However, Delmar isn't just 'any vocalist' but  is up there with Cleo and Norma as one of the all time British vocal greats.

It Might as Well be Spring: Gently swinging with Elaine, Green, Mullen and Thorpe  proving you can achieve that much sort after quality with or without a drummer.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

The Don't Tell Them Pike! Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ Cullercoats Crescent Club - June 5

David Gray (trumpet, trombone, vocals); John Farragher (clarinet, vocals); Brian Bennett (banjo); John Eckhard (bass guitar)

The Vieux Carré Hot 4 waited for two of the four to turn up and waited and waited. Traffic congestion at South Gosforth delayed both David Gray and John Eckhard, resulting in the Hot 4 getting under way some fifteen minutes past the hour. No one was complaining, it was a nice, sunny day, we weren't in a hurry. 

John Farragher, down from north Northumberland, took the first of umpteen vocals (vocals shared with David Gray), singing Shoe Shine Boy. David Gray, playing as much trumpet as trombone, took his first vocal with All By Myself. And that set the pattern for the afternoon here in the Crescent Club's buffet, alternating frontline vocals, ably supported by bandleader Brian Bennett (banjo) and bassist John Eckhard. Gray singing the verse to I'll Be Seeing You unaccompanied proved to be an early highlight. 

Ed Kainyek Quartet @ the Railway, Stockport - June 4

© Jeff Pritchard
Ed Kainyek (tenor sax); Liam Butler-Webb (keys); John Sandham (bass); Tim Franks (drums).

The last time Ed played this venue was on May 7 with the same line-up but on that occasion he played alto sax whereas tonight he was on tenor. Once again John Sandham stepped in to replace the absent Gavin Barras and positioned himself on the right of the bandstand with drummer Tim Franks on the left, Liam Butler-Webb was using a Yamaha keyboard and I liked the fact that he keeps the sound level down so as not to overpower the rest of the band.  

The Black Swan jam session - June 4

Ben Phillips (piano); Paul Grainger (double bass); Bailey Rudd (drums) + Luis Verde (alto sax); Edgar Bell (cornet); Liam Oliver (guitar); Lara Hopper (trumpet); John Rowland (tenor sax); Theo (drums); Ben Davies (guitar); Owen Jones (double bass); Stuart Turner (guitar); Becky Tuck (vocals); Anna Heslop (vocals); Martin Waugh (piano); Esther Coombes (alto sax, clarinet); Jamie Watkins (double bass); Ian Drever (vocals); Shayo (vocals); Jo (vocals); Oscar Nolan (vocals); Jack (guitar); Logan (vocals)

Night and Day, Beautiful Love, Blue Bossa, three standards, the house trio (Bailey Rudd answering a last minute call) nicely warmed up. Newcastle Arts Centre's bi-monthly jam session (first and third Tuesdays) adopts a simple formula - trio plus a succession of friends old and new sitting in - and it works. 

This evening the Black Swan attracted the faithful and a fair number of new faces there to listen and/or sit in. The first of those to throw their hats into the ring on Footprints offered up a startling contrast - Luis Verde (blowing amazing alto sax) riding the crest of a wave, Edgar Bell (holding a cornet) a man overboard. Señor Verde, now with the floor to himself, chose to play You Don't Know What Love is. Magnificent, simply magnificent.

Album review: James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet - For Mahalia, With Love

James Brandon Lewis (tenor sax) + : 

Disc One: Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Chris Hoffman (cello); William Parker (bass); Chad Taylor (drums, tambourine).

Disc Two: Roksana Kwasnikowska (first violin); Marcin Markowics (second violin); Artur Rozmyslowics (viola); Maciej Mlodawski (cello).

Perhaps surprisingly, for such a long-standing and prodigious soulboy as myself, I’ve had almost no interest in gospel music beyond a few select artists near to the soul music mainstream: Staple Singers, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Rance Allen, Sounds of Blackness and not many more.

I’ve always attributed this to me being an atheist, though I’ve always considered words in music along the lines of acting, and only notice it when it’s either very good or very poor.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Album review: Wolff, Clark, Dorsey - A Letter to Bill Evans

Michael Wolff (piano); Leon Lee Dorsey (bass); Mike Clark (drums)

The question facing the three musicians is do we slavishly copy the originals or do we seek to improve the unimprovable by approaching it from a different direction? Wisely, Wolff, Dorsey and Clark choose the latter option even though to do so requires skills on a par with the original masters and, by and large, they succeed.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Mark Williams Trio @ the Central Bar, Gateshead - June 2

© Pam
Mark Williams (guitar); Paul Susans (bass guitar); Rob Walker (drums)

A lovely June day, maybe some decided to opt for the garden and get a BBQ going but the more discerning went for a wiser option, spend Sunday afternoon at the Central Bar for an immersive experience with the Mark Williams Trio!  

© Pam
The guys hit the ground running with an amazing performance of Recovery Blues - totally mesmerising. Weird Country with no explanation of which weird place he was referring to but there are plenty to choose from. The first set concluded with No More an anagram of Moreno (Mike) apparently our man had been listening to the New York guitarist. Mark's compositions however, are absolutely his own.  

The New Century Syncopated Six @ the Prohibition Bar, Newcastle - June 2

© Russell
Jim McBriarty (alto/soprano sax, clarinet, vocals); Gavin Lee (tenor sax, clarinet); Dave Hignett (trumpet, cornet); Keith Stephen (banjo); Phil Rutherford (tuba); Nick Ward (drums)

A step back in time at the appropriately named Prohibition Bar. The New Century Syncopated Six, an off shoot of the New Century Ragtime Orchestra, played a couple of sets that typified the era of bathtub booze - fortunately the attempt at authenticity didn't stretch that far!

I think the most modern number played last night was composed around 1929 although most were from a year or two earlier. Some familiar and some completely unknown. Still, good music is timeless and if it was good enough for Al Capone who would dare to complain?

Sunday, June 02, 2024

Edison Herbert Trio @ The Vault, Darlington - June 1

Edison Herbert (guitar); Emlyn Vaughan (bass guitar); Miles Pillinger (drums)

An 'away day' in Darlington. Lunchtime at St Augustine's listening to Rico Tomasso's Swing Company followed by a pint of Old Peculier in Number Twenty 2 (the musicians' post-gig hang) and onto an early evening gig at the Vault on East Row. Edison Herbert was making a popular return visit to the Market Place venue and several fans made the effort to get along, although they were well aware it wouldn't be a listening crowd...

Enrico Tomasso's Swing Company @ Darlington New Orleans Jazz Club - June 1

Enrico Tomasso (trumpet, cornet, vocals); Trevor Whiting (alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet); Spats Langham (guitar, banjo, vocals); Malcolm Sked (double bass); Nick Ward (drums); Cia Tomasso (vocals) 

When Rico Tomasso is in town you know it's going to be a good one. St Augustine's Parish Centre attracted a large crowd there to listen to Rico's Swing Company featuring rising star vocalist Cia Tomasso. Most of those present had yet to hear Cia sing. Little did they know they were in for a treat.

The horns - Rico (trumpet and cornet) and Trevor Whiting (alto sax, soprano sax and clarinet) - took the lion's share of the solos with some nifty guitar playing from their bandmate, the one-and-only Tom 'Spats' Langham. Material from the swing era formed the bulk of the set list and Rico's Swing Company most certainly did swing. The boys in the engine room - string bassist Malcolm Sked and period percussionist extraordinaire Nick Ward - really did swing it.

The Graham Hardy Eclectic Quartet @ Gala Theatre, Durham - April 26

© Malcolm Sinclair
(This review was drafted in April, but due to illness the reviewer was unable to complete it until now)

Graham Hardy (trumpet); Ben Lawrence (keys); Andy Champion (double bass); John Bradford (drums).

With the greening of spring evident and a surprisingly blue sky across the valley on the last Friday in April another capacity Gala audience were treated to a stunning debut by a new band on the north east scene (or rather a new line-up of mainly familiar faces). Clearly all the musicians knew each other’s playing well, having played together over the past year in both Mondo Trumpet and the Sue Ferris Quintet. And it was a welcome return to the Gala of one of the region’s rising stars, former Gala Big Band pianist Ben Lawrence.

Album review: Jack Walrath - Live at Smalls (Cellar Music)

Jack Walrath (trumpet); Abraham Burton (tenor sax); George Burton (piano); Boris Kozlov (bass); Donald Edwards (drums)

I sighed, I cried, I almost died at the thought of yet another hard-bop trumpet, tenor, piano, bass and drums combo shooting for the moon. Let's face it, Blakey, Silver and a whole lot of the Blue Note boys had worked this side of the street since time knows when and, as a counter-attraction, there were a couple of foreign teams kicking a ball around at Wembley and, hadn't I heard Walrath in a JNE concert at the Corner House back in 1986?

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Jazz Time Aycliffe Radio - Sundays 6.30-8.00pm (repeated Tuesdays 8.00-9.30pm)

Playlist 02/06/24 (repeated Tuesday 04/06/24)

Memories: Benny Goodman.

Requests: Jeff Barnhart, Spats Langham.

Further Memories: Eugene Wright, Christian McBride Trio, Johnny Hodges, Louis Hayes, Kenny Washington, Kenny G.

Requests: Phil Harris, Bruce Reitherman.

Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra, Anouar Brahem.

Aycliffe Radio is now available on DAB in County Durham & the Darlington area.

The Fenner Sisters and the Tees Valley Jazzmen liberate Newgate Shopping Centre

With the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings coming up I thought it would be an appropriate time to upload this vintage YouTube clip of the Fenner Sisters and the Tees Valley Jazzmen 'doing their bit'. Lance

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Album review: Jihye Lee Orchestra - Infinite Connections

Jihye Lee (composer/conductor); Ben Kono, David Pietro, Jason Rigby, Jonathan Lowery, Carl Maraghi (reeds); Brian Pareschi, Nathan Eklund, David Smith, Stuart Mack (trumpet, fluegelhorn); Mike Fahie, Alan Ferber, Nick Grinder, Jeff Nelson (trombones); Alex Goodman (guitar); Adam Birnbaum (piano); Matt Clohesy (bass); Jared Schonig (drums); Keita Ogawa (perc) + Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet tks 1 & 6)

Korean born, Brooklyn based composer/conductor Lee meets head-on the challenges of melding Western music with indigenous Korean folk rhythms - and doing it seamlessly. Nine original compositions imaginatively arranged and performed by eighteen of NYC's finest jazz musicians make for an outstanding, contemporary orchestral performance.

Think Gil Evans, George Russell, Bob Graettinger or maybe, in today's terms, Maria Schneider and you get an idea where Lee is coming from.

The Tannery Jam Session, Hexham - May 29

Joe Steels (guitar); Paul Susans (double bass); John Hirst (drums) + John Weaver (trumpet); Bailey Rudd (drums); Euan Hunter (guitar); ? (guitar); Bridget Enever (soprano sax)

The first in a new monthly jam session in Hexham attracted a decent crowd and a handful of musicians looking to sit-in. The Tannery at the bottom of Gilesgate is a two-room community hostelry offering three or four handpulls and a pub grub menu. Advertised as a seven o'clock start, the action got underway some twenty minutes late. The house trio - Tyne Valley residents Joe Steels, Paul Susans and John Hirst - played a couple of numbers before inviting the first of the hopefuls to play a couple of numbers. 

Joe Webb Trio @ Ronnie Scott's - May 28

Joe Webb (piano); Will Sach (double bass); Sam Jesson (drums)

A record deal with Edition Records, touring worldwide and, most recently, making his debut as a radio presenter, Joe Webb is riding the crest of a wave. This evening at a sold out Ronnie Scott's, over the course of two sets we were witness to a truly memorable performance of dazzling piano playing recalling Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and others. 

Combining a love of jazz with football isn't an everyday occurrence at Ronnie Scott's...unless your name happens to be Joe Webb. Our pianist's twin enthusiasms for his jazz piano heroes and adoration of one of the footballing greats made for a joyous occasion. Webb visiting the Nou Camp to watch Lionel Messi in his pomp became a regular thing. As the World Cup winner sought pastures new in America, Webb composed Hamstrings and Hurricanes. Simply marvellous. 

Press release: Edinburgh Jazz Bar to reopen

Dear Friends,

We have some very exciting news we are now in a position to share with you all.

The Jazz Bar's assets, name, social media and license have been purchased by a new company called The Jazz Bar Edinburgh CIC. This nonprofit social enterprise channels all operating surplus back into the venue, with all assets locked into and owned by the social enterprise, not private individuals.

The Community Interest Company has been set up by Nick and Justyna Mushlin, a husband and wife team with decades of experience and deep connections to the bar. When it became apparent that The Jazz Bar would shut, they took it upon themselves, with help and support from the music community surrounding the bar, to purchase the assets. Their aim was to start a new venture to serve the community they had been a part of for so long, continuing the legacy that the old Jazz Bar had created and nurtured for many years.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Album review: Roger Kellaway - Live at Mezzrow

Roger Kellaway (piano); Jay Leonhardt (bass); Dennis Mackrell (drums) + Roni Ben-Hur (guitar on tks 4, 5 & 8)

For some reason or other when the 'my favourite pianist' question crops up Roger Kellaway's name is rarely in the frame. I too have been guilty of that omission and, as I listen to this recording from Mezzrow I'm giving myself a virtual slap on the wrist as I realise what I've been missing.

Opening the album with a solo version of Try to Remember, a song from the 1965 musical The Fantastiks, Kellaway draws some meaning out of this much overlooked composition. Deeply reflective, as befits the title, exploring its many possibilities  and, ultimately, making it his own.

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