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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 ...


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.

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.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Album review: Uroboro – A Story Like Fire (Discus Music)

Andy Champion (bass on disc 2); Laura Cole (piano & keyboard); Anton Hunter (guitar & electronics); Johnny Hunter (drums); Keith Jafrate (saxophones & spoken word); John Pope (bass & electronics on disc 1)

Despite its fine cover, this one passed me by when it was released last year, and, I think, I found it on a John Pope discography somewhere. One look at the line-up would immediately suggest it was a must have, especially for someone who has followed the North East scene in recent years. As well as Pope (possibly the hardest working man in show business at the moment) most of the others, bar Jafrate are regular visitors to local bandstands or recording sessions. A bit of research reveals that Uroboro have been in existence, originally as a trio (Jafrate, Cole, Pope) since 2018 and have evolved into the quintets that recorded this album.

Jafrate is the leader for this project, responsible for all the compositions and the spoken word poems. It’s a double CD of studio tracks on the first disc, four of which get a live run out on disc 2. Pope was unavailable for the live date so Andy Champion stepped in.

What of the music, though? Much of it is rich, dense, broad screen, full spectrum, sounding like a much bigger band than just a quintet. Opener in passing is both a call to arms and a statement of intent. A solo horn calls out and is followed by knotty, complex intermingling of sounds, Pope’s bass rumbling at first then developing real forward drive, half promising that A Love Supreme is going to step forward from the cloud.

That seems to be the shape of much of the music. Pope and Johnny Hunter anchor the pieces with solid rolling patterns and the others have freedom to extemporise over them. This is, however, a long way from a basic head and solos routine. The music is full of thrilling, escapist moments that don’t follow on from a solo but build on it creating a real wall of sound that is quite overwhelmingly exciting. It’s a celebration as well of nature, the Dales and the Pennines, of big skies and of the nature that lives around Jafrate’s part of Yorkshire. You could imagine this music as a soundtrack to Benjamin Myers’ novel Gallows Pole, which is set in the area, if Swedish band Goat hadn’t got there first.  

Jafrate is credited as the composer but acknowledges that he brought only the bare bones to the sessions and the others worked them up into the pieces as they were recorded and it sounds like it. It sounds like a communal effort with no one standing back and waiting their turn. This frequently means that the music is layered upon layer and can be overwhelming but you don’t wait long for someone to rise above the surface; Anton Hunter’s guitar is especially good at this.

As well as moments of density there are also periods where the front line floats above Johnny Hunter and Pope, such as during wild bird which features sax, piano and guitar winding around each other, each briefly more prominent but operating as a flowing, combined trio.

Despite the fact that Jafrate is a saxophonist, it sounds like an album led from the back, with everything built off Johnny Hunter and Pope or Champion. A dream where birds dream is worth a special mention. It’s a bit of jazz poetry that gives the nod to Jafrate’s day job. He delivers his poem over backing from just bass and drums, Hunter rolls and skips and, on the live version Champion punches out the timing which Jafrate follows. It’s tight and swinging until the closing run when the others join in and Hunter’s guitar rings out loud and bright.

If Mingus were still with us he’d be impressed with this album. Halfway through listening to it the first time I realised I was going to run out of superlatives and had to send out for some more.

A Story Like Fire came out at the fag end of last year after everybody’s Album of the Year Lists had been compiled (it definitely would have made my top 10) and didn’t, by a long way, get the level of attention it deserved. That was a great pity, not least for the wider audience who may not be aware of it, even now. (It did get a play on Jazz On The Tyne). I’m going to buy some extra copies to give as birthday presents to spread the word.

Great cover as well, by Luca Jafrate) inside and out.

Uroboro – A Story Like Fire is available HERE through the Discus Music Bandcamp page and from some other retailers and it was briefly available, before I bought the only copy, at Rays Jazz in Foyles in that big fancy London’s Charing Cross Road. The download from the Bandcamp site includes an extra 5 tracks or about 40 minutes of music that didn’t make it onto the album.

There are 6 videos from the live performance (about an hour of music) HERE on YouTube. Dave Sayer

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