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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 22, 2024

Silje Nergaard and Espen Berg @ Pizza Express, Soho – Feb. 16

Silje Nergaard (vocals, toy glockenspiel, cassette player); Espen Berg (piano)

Back in 1990, when I was investigating clocked cars and counterfeit cassettes in the wild streets of Darlington, I would often drive around listening to a tape of Silje Nergaard’s first album. Back then she was on the cusp of chart stardom and she had, I thought, all she needed for chart success,  namely breezy tunes (Tell Me Where You’re Going with Pat Metheny on guitar), lovely hair and a fondness for lying down to sing in her video.  Thirty five years later, she stands up to sing and the hair is shorter, however if you wanted an engrossing, enjoyable, but still relaxed, evening with musicianship of the highest order then the Pizza Express in Soho was the place to be last week.

They began with four songs from Nergaard’s 2021 Covid lockdown album, Houses, a collection of vignettes; life as she saw it looking in windows in her neighbourhood as she walked around. Her own Crowded House was also subjected to scrutiny. The opener, Rain Roofs, is enhanced by Berg plucking piano strings behind a simple melody sung in an ethereal floating voice. Window Bird is from that point where country, folk and jazz meet, Berg plays continuous waves and is always half a beat behind the melody, following Nergaard wherever she is going. The roots of My Crowded House lie in late ‘60s soul; “So many loves in houses side by side” she sings, dreaming of escape. Berg plays tumbling melodies over a thundering left hand. We were sat near Berg’s right hand; “It’s quite a privilege to sit this close to someone this good,” said Steve.

In a case of nominative determinism Ballet Boy draws a picture of a neighbour and his partner locked out of their dancing careers by Covid. It is a tune for the ballet with Nergaard riding a long melodic ‘daaaaance’ at the end of the line ‘His days are a dance’ whilst Bergen injects both tragedy and hope into his playing.

         The mood is lightened with a story of a melody stolen from a coconut seller on an Italian Beach. She had recorded his voice and played it on her phone whilst Berg started to build a swinging melody with a bit of a gentle samba shuffle sounding like it came from the next beach along after Ipanema. Berg starts the next song, Take a Long, Long Walk on a Short, Short Pier, beating the strings, developing a Billie Jean-type rhythm. It’s a song of a broken heart, while he’s walking the pier, she’s heading out. Berg stands to solo on keys and beaten strings, the melody increasing in complexity until Berg has to abandon it with a laugh and launch into something else.

For those of us hoping for something suggestive of his solo piano albums, Berg gives us a long piece that showed all the flowing lyricism of those concerts. The rhythmic lines from the centre of the keys gives an ethereal lightness before he floats seamlessly into Be Still My Heart. It’s a beautiful, delicate ballad from 2001 when she and lyricist, Mike McGurk, were trying to write a modern standards songbook. There is the same delicacy to the lullaby that follows. She reaches into the higher register, pausing to accompany the piano with a few notes on a toy glockenspiel.

She introduces the nearly hit, Tell Me…. by playing the introduction from a demo of the song on a cassette she found in the attic. Berg picks up the melody. Nergaard’s voice still soars after all these years and it carries the same optimistic escapism as it ever did; Berg plays a funky middle section. It’s the same tune, but not as we know it.

The encore is the sombre Japanese Blue, the title track from a 2020 album by these two. Another floating melody carried without words, a moment of hush and it's home time. Dave Sayer

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