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Bebop Spoken There

Raymond Chandler: “ I was walking the floor and listening to Khatchaturian working in a tractor factory. He called it a violin concerto. I called it a loose fan belt and the hell with it ". The Long Goodbye, Penguin 1959.

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.


16350 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 16 years ago. 230 of them this year alone and, so far, 27 this month (April 11).

From This Moment On ...


Fri 19: Cia Tomasso @ The Lit & Phil, Newcastle. 1:00pm. ‘Cia Tomasso sings Billie Holiday’. SOLD OUT!
Fri 19: Classic Swing @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 19: Rendezvous Jazz @ The Monkseaton Arms. 1:00pm. Free.
Fri 19: New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band @ The Oxbridge Hotel, Stockton. 1:00pm. £5.00.
Fri 19: Tweed River Jazz Band @ The Radio Rooms, Berwick. 7:00pm (doors). £5.00.
Fri 19: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Seventeen Nineteen, Hendon, Sunderland. 7:30pm.
Fri 19: Levitation Orchestra + Nauta @ Cluny 2, Newcastle. 7:30pm (doors). £11.00.
Fri 19: Strictly Smokin’ Big Band @ The Witham, Barnard Castle. 8:00pm. ‘Ella & Ellington’.

Sat 20: Record Store Day…at a store near you!
Sat 20: Bright Street Band @ Washington Arts Centre. 6:30pm. Swing dance taster session (6:30pm) followed by Bright Street Big Band (7:30pm). £12.00.
Sat 20: Michael Woods @ Victoria Tunnel, Ouseburn, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Acoustic blues.
Sat 20: Rendezvous Jazz @ St Andrew’s Church, Monkseaton. 7:30pm. £10.00. (inc. a drink on arrival).

Sun 21: Jamie Toms Quartet @ Queen’s Hall, Hexham. 3:00pm.
Sun 21: 4B @ The Ticket Office, Whitley Bay Metro Station. 3:00pm. Free.
Sun 21: Lindsay Hannon: Tom Waits for No Man @ Holy Grale, Durham. 5:00pm.
Sun 21: The Jazz Defenders @ Cluny 2. Doors 6:00pm. £15.00.
Sun 21: Edgar Rubenis @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 7:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig. Blues & ragtime guitar.
Sun 21: Tweed River Jazz Band @ Barrels Ale House, Berwick. 7:00pm. Free.
Sun 21: Art Themen with the Dean Stockdale Trio @ The Globe, Newcastle. 8:00pm. £10.00. +bf. JNE. SOLD OUT!

Mon 22: Harmony Brass @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.

Tue 23: Vieux Carre Hot 4 @ Victoria & Albert Inn, Seaton Delaval. 12:30-3:30pm. £12.00. ‘St George’s Day Afternoon Tea’. Gig with ‘Lashings of Victoria Sponge Cake, along with sandwiches & scones’.
Tue 23: Jalen Ngonda @ Newcastle University Students’ Union. POSTPONED!

Wed 24: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ Cullercoats Crescent Club. 1:00pm. Free.
Wed 24: Darlington Big Band @ Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, Darlington. 7:00pm. Free. Rehearsal session (open to the public).
Wed 24: Sinatra: Raw @ Darlington Hippodrome. 7:30pm. Richard Shelton.
Wed 24: Take it to the Bridge @ The Globe, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Free.
Wed 24: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.

Thu 25: Vieux Carré Jazzmen @ The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside. 1:00pm. Free.
Thu 25: Jim Jams @ King’s Hall, Newcastle University. 1:15pm. Jim Jams’ funk collective.
Thu 25: Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society @ Gateshead Central Library, Gateshead. 2:30pm.
Thu 25: Death Trap @ Theatre Royal, Newcastle. 7:30pm. Rambert Dance Co. Two pieces inc. Goat (inspired by the music of Nina Simone) with on-stage musicians.
Thu 25: Jeremy McMurray & the Pocket Jazz Orchestra @ Arc, Stockton. 8:00pm.
Thu 25: Kate O’Neill, Alan Law & Paul Grainger @ Prohibition Bar, Newcastle. 8:00pm. Free. A ‘Jar on the Bar’ gig.
Thu 25: Tees Hot Club @ Dorman’s Club, Middlesbrough. 8:30pm. Guests: Richie Emmerson (tenor sax); Neil Brodie (trumpet); Adrian Beadnell (bass); Garry Hadfield (keys).

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Lewis Watson Quartet @ Newcastle House, Rothbury - March 12

Lewis Watson (tenor sax); Mark Williams (guitar); Andy Champion (bass); John Bradford (drums)

Normally, when I’m off out to listen to some jazz, I set my compass for the south east and head to the bright lights of the greater Tyne & Wear metropolis. Not so on this cool (in so many ways) evening when a quick 180 degree re-calibration found me heading for the ancient town of Rothbury for the third presentation by Coquetdale Jazz at the Newcastle House.

The first issue was obtaining a ticket. The handbills and adverts advise that tickets are available from Tully’s Delicatessen. Having no trips to Rothbury planned I feared that this would be local jazz for local people and only people from the valley would be welcome. Contact through the Facebook page secured me a seat without the need to produce evidence of residency.

The room itself, usually the dining room at this fine establishment, was adorned with all the usual Jazz Club requisites, namely a well-stocked bar a large picture of an elephant and a food allergens notice. It also had lots of people… and a quartet of some of the best musicians in the North. I have been listening to Lewis Watson over the years, going back beyond his time as a stalwart of the magnificent Voice Of The North Jazz Orchestra, sadly an early victim of Tory austerity, so I wasn’t expecting an evening of Kenny G covers. There’s always a concern that in deciding the set list for a new venue the musicians may decide to play it safe and play something too ‘nice’. Thankfully, not on Tuesday in Rothbury they didn’t.

The opener, Wayne Shorter’s Yes or No, was played in the full blooded style that would characterise the evening; Watson blowing looong notes down towards the lower register, Champion’s running bass driving from the back, Williams’ solo built from fleet solo notes and occasional bends. Watson’s own Time Passed slows the pace a little. Williams contributes a lovely filigree of a solo, Champion’s solo on bass marches up and down the neck, adding in occasional repeated lines that are developed and then abandoned for something else. A fluid solo by Watson leads us out and into an unaccompanied solo of wild blowing covering the full range of the instrument’s voice and that leads us, in turn, into Song For Keith, another Watson piece, this time with a Latin groove. A lovely dancing guitar solo builds in repeated lines leading to a release as Williams takes off. The tenor solo swings as the energy level climbs to more furious blowing. Champion’s solo bounces, full of snap, a bass solo you can dance to. Watson comes back in and his playing becomes more complex and knotty as the band breaks out free behind him until only bass and sax are left challenging and duelling with each other.

Watson introduces No Light, No Tunnel with talk of those times in life when nothing is going well. It’s a dark, melancholy blues with Bradford dropping bombs at the back behind loud, declamatory sax playing. It’s blues for a dark night under the bridge. Even though Watson's solo builds to the point where there are suggestions of positivity it still retains its blue edge. Williams’ solo is heavier than anything he’s played heretofore; more stately and more angular; Champion’s solo is also sparer but is another one to dance to.

The second set opens with Hand In Hand, another Watson tune. This is a solid piece of hard bop that opens with a brief nod to Sack o’ Woe. Bradford is busy on the drums behind Watson’s long lines. Bradford takes precedence with a solo of solid fills and rolls and exploding cymbals. Champion hitches a ride and his solo leads us into Coltrane’s The Promise. We’re still firmly in a hard bop vein with a bit of a funk shuffle on the side. Watson plays a charging, packed solo and hands off to Williams for a lovely flowing solo that almost matches Watson for energy.

George Adams’ Autumn Song follows. It’s a warm and mellow piece, (mists and fruitfulness anyone) but it doesn’t lapse into easy listening. Then it’s back to Coltrane with Liberia which opens with gentle sax over a rolling boil from the rest of the band then it all takes off and Watson delivers a rocking, driving, tumultuous solo. Williams picks up the energy level and carries it forward. Closer, Prayer to Be, follows on with a dense, knotty solo from the bassist. A sudden halt and he flows on at a slower tempo before the others join for the closing bars and that’s goodnight Rothbury.

It’s been a good night with a group of Northern big hitters before a knowledgeable crowd. The Rothbury experiment is working and I wish them more power to their elbow. Next up is Swing Manouche on April 30. I advise following Coquetdale Jazz on Facebook. Dave Sayer


Russell said...

A picture of an elephant, what more could anyone ask for?!

Anonymous said...

Having fairly recently moved from central Newcastle to mid-Northumberland by the Coquet my access to live jazz has changed radically. Although Alnwick is a lovely country town and its Playhouse Theatre has a wide range of events, jazz gigs are few and far between. Then the options are 30 miles each way to Newcastle, 50 miles to Hexham, 100 to Edinburgh and 300 to Ronnie’s. The jazz spirit is willing but the body can no longer cope with late night drives in the wind and rain.
However they say good things come to those who wait, so to see a flyer in the Accidental Bookshop in Alnwick for a jazz gig in Rothbury (a mere 15 miles away) and featuring Lewis Watson and some of the finest musicians in the North East in the band was a gift from the musical gods.
And wow, this was some gig!
Dave Sayers excellent and comprehensive review captures the atmosphere and the quality of the music very well. Like him I was delighted that Watson didn’t feel he had to tone down his playing in case the audience were new to this music. But the reality was that all the band members are such consummate musicians with such an instictive feel for each others’ playing that there was no need for showy tear up the floorboards, melt the windows over exuberance. Everything they played was so well judged and coherent that whether they played low or high, fast or slow it made perfect sense.
I spoke briefly with one of the organisers at the break and he said they had been a little bit worried that this band might have been a bit of stretch for some of the audience but that wasn’t my experience. There was enthusiastic clapping (and whistles) after indivdual solos and at the end of each piece and prolonged applause at the end of the set. My experience of community events is that local people value them and appreciate the effort that the organisers put in to make them happen. So a huge shout-out to the organisers of Coquetdale Jazz for what they are doing and for bringing such quality musicians to Rothbury.
As a person living (reasonably) locally but not yet a local I’m looking forward to attending as many of their future gigs as possible.

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