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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, 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.

Emma Rawicz: Final Recital @ Royal Academy of Music - May 28

Emma Rawicz (tenor sax, soprano sax); Ivo Neame (piano); Kevin Glasgow (bass guitar); Asaf Sirkis (drums)

Emma Rawicz has achieved much in her career to date. Gigging here, there and everywhere (including a Newcastle Jazz Festival appearance) with some of the best in the business, writing material, forming a big band (performing at a sold out Ronnie Scott's), all in a day's work. Remarkably, all of this and more achieved before graduating from the Royal College of Music. 

Paul Hartley Trio w. Jeff Guntren @ the Railway, Stockport - May 28

© Jeff Pritchard
Jeff Guntren  (tenor sax); Paul Hartley (guitar); Ken Marley (bass); Eryl Roberts (drums).

Although it was a Tuesday night there was a really good turnout to hear Jeff Guntren who is originally from Davenport, Iowa but now resides in Bramhall which is quite close to Stockport. I noticed that there were a lot of new faces among the audience and by the time the band were ready to start, all seats had been taken. Those who had not seen Jeff before must surely have been impressed with his big sound and very modern concept as demonstrated on the opening number I'll Remember April. A total of nine tunes were played, most of which would be familiar to jazz fans apart from maybe Maiden Voyage which is usually played by trumpeters. Freddie Hubbard did a great version on Blue Note, 

The Bold Big Band @ Newcastle Arts Centre - May 28

© Mike Tilley

Pippa Morgan, Max Storey, Crissi Booth, Lucy McCarten, Brian Wicks (saxes); Billy Bradshaw, Sam Armstrong, James Bateman, Andrew Marshall (trumpets); Alex Utting, Bertie Marks, Josh Scott, Kieran Parnaby (trombones); Ben Davies (guitar); Alex Ngeyu (keys); Joe Sharples (bass); Dan Arenstein (drums); Anna Heslop (vocals).

© Mike Tilley
Bold by name bold by nature the Bold Big Band took the A Train on the ride of its life. This wasn't the relatively sedate Ellington/Strayhorn opus but a chart by Don Sebesky. A wild dissonant arrangement closer to Kenton or Sun Ra than Billy Strayhorn. It would have made a great soundtrack for The Taking of Pelham 123. Utting and Armstrong the soloists.

Utting stayed in the driving seat alongside Crissi Booth on Dancing Men and Crissi had a solo feature on Metroliner.

5-5-7 saw Davies doing some shredding with Pippa impressive on soprano and MD Wicks playing baritone and sit-down comedian.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

R.I.P. Glenn Cartlidge

Our man from way out west, Mike Farmer, has passed on the sad news that guitarist Glenn Cartlidge died at his home in Buxton on May 22.

Cartlidge, was a good friend of Mike and a first rate guitarist who occasionally played sax in big bands.

After spending some time playing on the London scene he returned to the north west where he frequently played at the Railway in Stockport.

Glenn Cartlidge was 72 and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

R.I.P. Lance

Tonight @ the Black Swan - The Bold Big Band.

© Mike Tilley
The Bold Big Band return to the Newcastle Arts Centre for an evening of explosive big band sounds and vocals as well as some of the most unfunny jokes ever which adds to the fun without detracting from the music in fact they make the music sound even better if that is possible!

Monday, May 27, 2024

Northumberland Jazz Festival: Clark Tracey Quintet @ Queen's Hall, Hexham - May 26

Konrad Wiszniewski (tenor sax); Colin Steele (trumpet); Bruce Boardman (piano); Tom Marsh (double bass); Clark Tracey (drums)

Two days of concerts drew to a close on Sunday evening with a top-of-the-bill appearance by the Clark Tracey Quintet. A recent Newcastle Jazz Co-op engagement featured none of the advertised line-up. Less than one month later, save for trumpeter Colin Steele, it was all change for this Queen's Hall concert. Fellow Scot, tenor saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski, made the trip south with Steele. Pianist Bruce Boardman hadn't been seen in the region for a couple of years or so, and bassist Tom Marsh was making his debut with the Clark Tracey Quintet. All change...

Northumberland Jazz Festival: Bryony Jarman-Pinto @ Hexham Library - May 26

© Sheila Herrick
Bryony Jarman-Pinto (vocals, flute); Tom Leah (guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals); Jilly Jarman (keyboards, flute, backing vocals); Jen Walinetski (drums, backing vocals) 

For some an unknown quantity, here at a sold out Hexham Library suggests some were very much 'in the know'. Bryony Jarman-Pinto is difficult to pigeonhole...singer-songwriter/jazz singer/neo-soul singer. An engaging stage presence, a soulful edge to her voice, an accomplished lyricist, Ms Jarman-Pinto really impressed from the off.

Northumberland Jazz Festival: Alice Grace Trio + Tyne Valley Youth Big Band @ The Sele, Hexham - May 26

© Sheila Herrick
Alice Grace Trio: Alice Grace (vocals); Joe Steels (guitar); Ben Lawrence (keyboards)

The Sele, that's Hexham's splendid Victorian park, is the ideal setting for a Sunday afternoon concert. Except when it rains. And it rained. The first of Sunday afternoon's two Northumberland Jazz Festival concerts (the second would be in Hexham Library) presented a scratch trio comprising vocalist Alice Grace, guitarist and Northumberland Jazz Festival programmer Joe Steels and pianist Ben Lawrence. 

Northumberland Jazz Festival: Paul Edis Trio with Bruce Adams & Alan Barnes + Jambone @ Queen's Hall, Hexham - May 25

The Northumberland Jazz Festival (formerly Hexham Jazz Festival) presented two days of top quality jazz to a series of appreciative audiences. Queen's Hall, Hexham Library and the Sele hosted concerts by the Paul Edis Trio with special guests Bruce Adams and Alan Barnes, a scratch Alice Grace Trio, the Tyne Valley Youth Big Band, Bryony Jarman-Pinto and the Clark Tracey Quintet.

Saturday: Paul Edis Trio with Bruce Adams & Alan Barnes + Jambone

© Sheila Herrick
Paul Edis (piano); Ken Marley (double bass); Russ Morgan (drums) with Bruce Adams (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn); Alan Barnes (alto sax, baritone sax)

Queen's Hall, Saturday evening, pianist Paul Edis returned to the Northumberland market town to open this year's rebranded festival. Bassist Ken Marley travelled over from west of the Pennines, drummer Russ Morgan from down the road on Tyneside. Edis' special guests - Bruce Adams and Alan Barnes - arrived from way down south. Cannonball Adderley, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, Blue Mitchell and Jimmy Smith would figure in an eclectic set list.

Matthew Darwin Quartet @ the Railway, Stockport - May 26

© Jeff Pritchard
Matthew Darwin (tenor/alto sax); Richard Jones (piano); Bim Williams (bass); Phil Bennett drums.

I was expecting problems with train cancellations this weekend but to my surprise there were none and the 6:44pm train from Handforth to Stockport was on time. If it would just stop raining every time I go anywhere things would be just great but maybe that’s wishful thinking. Matthew Darwin was making his first appearance at this venue and, before the gig, I had a brief chat and was told that the bass player tonight should have been Gavin Barras but he was unable to get here and a last minute replacement was Bim Williams. 

Sunday night @ the Globe: The Ruth Lambert Quartet _ May 26

© Sheila Herrick

Ruth Lambert (vocals); Alan Law (keys); Paul Grainger (bass); Tim Johnston (drums).

For those who appreciate the finer aspects of a vocalist and her fellow musicians enjoying what they are doing to the full, last night’s session at the Globe was an absolute treat.

Ruth’s fabulous voice with its wide range and subtle interpretation is perfectly suited to whatever mood the songs demand. Be it ballad, bossa or blues, samba or swing, she makes them her own.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

More on The Story of Blaydon Jazz Club

After reading Russell's review of Roly Veitch's The Story of Blaydon Jazz Club I knew I had to read it for myself and I wasn't disappointed. A glossy paged production that would put many a posh travel brochure to shame, it details the trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs of running a jazz club in a small town/village.

However, this is more than a mere parochial documentation although it is that but, more significantly, it is also in many ways a primer for other jazz clubs of similar means - or lack of them - to keep afloat. Lack of means is invariably the death knell to grassroots venues of any genre. The millions poured into major concert venues rarely reach places such as Blaydon. 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

News Flash! Parliamentary Jazz Awards postponed until October

It has been announced that the 2024 Parliamentary Jazz Awards that were due to be held on July 2 have now been postponed until early October this year when normal service will, I am told, be resumed. This is due to the announcement of the forthcoming general election. 

The group's secretariat Chris Hodgkins explained: 'Once an election is called and Parliament goes into recess the All Party Parliamentary Groups - of which the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Group is one - are dissolved and have to be reconstituted in the next Parliament after the election'. 

Watch this space. Lance

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

Playlist 26/05/24 (repeated Tuesday 28/05/24)

Requests from Opus 4: Gerry Mulligan, Andrea Vicari, Chick Corea, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Horace Silver, Sidney Bechet,

Memories: Artie Shaw, Miles Davis, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Ramsey Lewis Trio, T-Bone Walker.

Request: Paul Desmond.

What’s on in the NE: Anth Purdy, Rico Tomasso.

Bill Stewart.

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

Preview: Northumberland Jazz Festival (May 25 & 26)

This bank holiday weekend sees the return/rebranding of the Hexham Jazz Festival. Now known as the Northumberland Jazz Festival, the focus will be upon Queen's Hall on Beaumont Street. Two major concert presentations in the Main Hall, a Sunday afternoon in Hexham Library and a double bill in the park across the road and we've got ourselves a jazz festival! 

The opening event on Saturday evening features the Paul Edis Trio with special guests Alan Barnes (reeds) and Bruce Adams (trumpet). It's an early evening start (6:30pm) with a support set by Jambone. Now under the direction of Jason Holcomb, it'll be interesting to see if the region's youth jazz ensemble has recruited new members. Pianist Paul Edis' superb trio features bassist Ken Marley and drummer Russ Morgan

Friday, May 24, 2024

Album review: Jo Harrop - The Path of a Tear

Jo Harrop (vocals); Anthony Wilson (guitar); Victor Indrizzo (drums/perc.); Jim Cox (piano/keys/B3/Rhodes); David Piltch ( bass); Larry Klein (electric bass).

Jo Harrop is, without doubt, one of the UK's leading jazz vocalists. There is a warmth to her voice that brings out the meaning of a lyric. Be it happy or sad, the words are conveyed with the emotion they demand.

She does that here and much more - much more, much, much more. The difference on this compelling album compared to her previous releases, and they themselves were outstanding, is the strength of her lyric writing on eight of the eleven tracks. The other three lyrics are by Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell and Steve Earle and Jo Harrop's words lose nothing by comparision.  

Emma Fisk's Hot Club du Nord @ the Gala, Durham - May 24

© Malcolm Sinclair
Emma Fisk (violin); James Birkett (guitar); Dave Harris (guitar); Bruce Rollo (double bass)

The Gala's full house spoke volumes. Whenever and wherever, fans turn out in droves to hear Hot Club du Nord. A repertoire built around the Django Reinhardt-Stephane Grappelli partnership, Emma Fisk's outfit never fails to deliver the goods.

From the opening Sweet Sue to Stardust to It Don't Mean a Thing to a terrific Minor Swing and more, Emma and the boys - guitarists James Birkett and Dave Harris and string bass maestro Bruce Rollo - were on top form. Have they ever been off form? Silly question! The full house loved every minute of the performance; dazzling musicianship, spellbinding solos, all of it done with (seemingly) consummate ease. 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Olly Styles (tenor sax): Stage 2 End of Year Recital @ Band Room, Music Studios, Newcastle University - May 23

Olly Styles (tenor sax); Jacob Egglestone (guitar); Louis Wild (keyboards); Jamie Watkins (bass guitar); Bailey Rudd (drums)

Good evening said Olly Styles. It was ten in the morning. In a nanosecond our examinee corrected himself...Good morning! Tenor saxophonist Olly looked surprisingly spritely at this most unlikely jazz hour. Ditto his bandmates, familiar names all - Jacob, Louis, Jamie and Bailey. A stage 2, ie second year, student, Olly has been making a big impression on the local jazz scene, notably at the Black Swan jam session and on gigs with Nauta (Olly's rebranded band for this morning's recital).

Round Midnight, BBC Radio 3

On his CDs and in live performance Soweto Kinch is loud, lively and forceful. You wouldn’t review his audio CV and think ‘That’s the bloke we need to present a late night jazz programme that takes us from the last minutes of one day into the wee small first half-hour of another.’ However, it turns out that Mr Kinch has a mild mannered alter-ego and that’s the one that signed the contract to present Round Midnight, the new, imaginatively titled Radio 3 show that goes out round midnight.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Jazz on the Tyne previews the Northumberland Jazz Festival 2024

In this latest edition of the podcast, presenter Colin Muirhead looks ahead to the inaugural Northumberland Jazz Festival, taking place in Hexham on 25-26 May, with tracks by the Paul Edis Trio, Alice Grace, Bryony Jarman-Pinto and the Clark Tracey Quintet.  He also previews local gigs featuring Borealis, Sarāb and John Pope & John Garner; showcases new releases by Living in Shadows and the Phil Bancroft Quartet; and pays tribute to David Sanborn.

You can listen to the show anytime HERE.

Plus, you can request tunes for future programmes, or pass on news or feedback by emailing Colin at or by heading to

Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Trio, @ the National Centre for Early Music, York - May 21

Tim Garland (saxes); Gwilym  Simcock (piano); Asaf Sirkis ( drums)

There was an atmosphere of expectation as a near capacity audience gathered in York’s National Centre for Early Music (a converted Grade I listed church) for the first gig on Tim Garland’s Lighthouse tour.  The band, formed 20 years ago in the north east and named after Whitley Bay’s iconic St. Mary’s Lighthouse, are touring their latest release, Moment of Departure. This album is based around a migratory theme and is inspired by, and incorporates visual elements of, the work of artist Esra Kizir Gokcen entitled Sail to Hope. There was subtle, but not intrusive, amplification of all three musicians.

A second decade Black Swan Jam session - May 21

Alan Law (piano); Paul Grainger (double bass); John Bradford (drums) + John Rowland (tenor sax); Ruth Lambert (vocals); Kate O'Neill (vocals); Bradley Johnston (guitar); Kyriaki Pantelidou (vocals); Mollie Birmingham (vocals); Stuart Turner (guitar); David Gray (trombone); Becky Tuck (vocals); Esther Coombes (alto sax, clarinet); Remi Coulthard-Boardman (vocals) 

Saturday's tenth anniversary jam session special would take some beating. Would this evening's jam session be a case of  'after the Lord Mayor's show'? The early birds duly arrived, the doors opened and the Black Swan began to fill up. Many new faces took their seats, perhaps they stumbled across Saturday's super jam during the Late Shows' culture-vulture trail (the Black Swan but one of many participating venues).

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Theo Croker @ the Jazz Arena, Cheltenham Jazz Festival - May 5

Theo Croker (trumpet and electronics); Idris Frederick (piano, keyboards); Eric Wheeler (bass); Jeremiah Collier (drums). 

Amen Waters(?) opens with long, cool astral notes over tumbling bass, drums and piano while Croker does things with his collection of knobs and electronics to, it must be said, with little discernible effect. This sets the scene for much of the rest of the gig. Croker proves several times across the course of the performance what a fine trumpeter he is but breaks off, just as his solo starts to really take off, to do things electrical.

During this first piece he manipulates his trumpet sound live, mixing in altered notes and African soundscapes, introduces a tapping rhythm and the drummer follows that whilst the bass adds pulse and the pianist contributes some fluid, floral runs, Croker’s trumpet is a clarion call to the faithful. The drummer fragments the rhythm on his old, beaten up cymbals that crack rather than splash, and the bassist drives it on. Croker settles into a groove and adds echo to his trumpet, but, as things start to get interesting the trumpet goes back in the case so Croker can produce some more sonic manipulation.

The Joe Steels-Ben Lawrence Quartet @ Blaydon Jazz Club - May 20

© R. Veitch
Joe Steels (guitar); Ben Lawrence (piano); Andy Champion (double bass); John Bradford (drums)

On a fine late spring evening the debut performance of the Joe Steels-Ben Lawrence Quartet drew a sizeable crowd to the Black Bull. Joe, guitar, Ben, piano, Andy Champion, bass and drummer John Bradford have shared a stage in various groupings, this Blaydon Jazz Club appearance was a first opportunity for them to work together as a quartet. 

Michael Young Trio @ the Engine Room - May 20

Michael Young (piano); Paul Grainger (bass); Abbie Finn (drums)

It was a sunny day, it was warm, so, on an impulse, I donned the shades, the jacket and the air of  a cool dude out on the town. A bus and a Metro got me to the Engine Room - the bar/bistro that adjoins the Fire Station where, last Friday, SSBB launched their latest CD.

This time, the real ale was back on in the bar so there was no need to adjourn to the nearby Dun Cow which was just as well as I'd have been unable to hear the Michael Young Trio although I'd have probably heard the noise some of the diners were making. Michael referred to them as The In Crowd which also happened to be the band's opening number and delivered à la Ramsey Lewis, setting the mood for the evening. I don't know if there was any soul food on the menu but there should have been.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Suzanne Fonseca Quartet @ the Railway, Stockport - May 19

© Jeff Pritchard
Suzanne Fonseca (trombone); Jim Collins (tenor sax); Richard Wetherall (piano); Gavin Barras (bass).

Making his second appearance here this week and playing the same vintage Conn M tenor sax was Jim Collins a musician who never fails to impress me with his great sound and inventive solos. I think tenor sax and trombone make a good combination and when you have top piano man Richard Wetherall on board and Gavin Barras behind his double bass you have all the ingredients for a first class evening of modern jazz.  I was pleased to see a lot of the Sunday night regulars were back in attendance and by 9:00pm it was standing room only.

The Story of Blaydon Jazz Club

The Story of Blaydon Jazz Club is just that, a history of Blaydon Jazz Club. From its beginnings in 1984, over four decades Blaydon Jazz Club has presented countless concerts, principally at the Black Bull on Bridge Street. Following the success of the early years, the club moved from Bridge Street to two or three other nearby venues until recently returning to its spiritual home, the Black Bull. 

Several publicans have played a part in the story, their support for jazz nights in Blaydon being a key factor in the club's longevity. And then there is the audience (some have been supporters from day one), a jazz club night depends on loyal supporters and Blaydon Jazz Club has its fair share of them, many of them considered friends. And what of the musicians? Too many to mention, some based in the region, some travelling a distance (more than a few from overseas), without exception, they too are friends of Blaydon Jazz Club.

Sunday night @ the Globe: Andrea Vicari Trio - May 19

© Pam
Andrea Vicari (piano, voice); Andy Champion (bass); Russ Morgan (drums)

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying. A song from the film The Shawshank Redemption. A film I've never seen although, on the strength of the trio's take on it, I will certainly look out for it on one of those movie channels that I subscribe to and never watch. It had a sort of contemporary New Orleans' feel to it emphasised by Morgan's drumming. Great to see you back Russ. 

You Don't Know What Love is. Who does? Nevertheless, Vicari's playing with its rich chords, intriguing substitutions and a Latin tinged arrangement may well have found the answer.

The Late Shows @ Ouseburn, Gateshead and Newcastle - May 17/18

One of my favourite weekends of the year! No I didn't make it to Black Swan Jam Session which you'll already have read about on BSH. Out of the many museums and other venues open until 10.30pm(ish) I managed only the Grainger Market and Newcastle Cathedral. But what a good time my friend and I had!

The Grainger Market was very busy from 6:00pm with three stages of activity, and plenty food and drink on offer. The best bit by far was the music of Ponteland Community Wind Band. I now know the difference between a wind band and a jazz big band. The wind band has no piano or guitar, but it does have drums, saxes, trumpets, trombones and maybe the occasional tuba or euphonium - two instruments that I wouldn't expect to find in a big band. I learnt something.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Celebrating 10 Years of the Tuesday Jam @ The Black Swan Bar, Newcastle Arts Centre - May 18

Alan Law (keyboards); Paul Grainger (double bass, MC); Tim Johnston (drums) + Ruth Lambert (vocals); Steve Summers (alto sax, soprano sax); Conor Emery (trombone); Jan Spencelayh (vocals); Esther Coombes (clarinet, alto sax); Giles Strong (guitar); John Pope (double bass); Ian Drever (vocals)

It began at the old place, the 'Jazz Caff', that's the Jazz Cafe (now Prohibition Bar) on Pink Lane. Pre-lockdown the jam session moved on down the alley, left turn onto Westgate Road and down the stairs to the Black Swan. Same format - house trio, a plethora of sitters-in, and, not least, a full house of supportive jazz fans there to listen. First and third Tuesdays in the month, seven thirty sharp. 

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

Playlist 19/05/24 (repeated Tuesday 21/05/24)

Requests: Toots Thielemans, Fats Waller, Betty Carter.

Requests from the Zoë Gilby Crook gig: Mark Johnson, Julian Lage, John Scofield.

Memories: Big Joe Turner, Kai Winding, Woody Herman.

Requests: Christian McBride, Milt Hinton.

What’s on in the NE: Bridget Metcalfe, Doris Day, Emma Fisk's Hot Club Du Nord, Paul Edis Sextet, Alan Barnes, Nikki Iles.

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

Saturday, May 18, 2024

That Buddy Bolden cylinder

The search is over! At last I've got my hands on the legendary BB cylinder. Its value beyond the dreams of avarice - the Maltese Falcon a mere bagatelle by comparision. On this cylinder I will hear the greatest New Orleans trumpet player ever. Buddy Bolden who begat Keppard, Oliver, Armstrong, Carey, Bunk and all the other Storyville hornmen.

How did I acquire it? Well, amazingly it was in a thrift/charity shop only a couple of miles away from my local boozer where I'd been chatting with one of the local soaks. You know, the usual thing, sport, sex, the council, sex until eventually music came up and we got around to talking about the merits of CDs, vinyl, cassettes etc and he mentioned seeing a cylinder in one of the  thrift/charity shops only a few miles away.

Could this be it? I didn't even finish my pint nor wait for a bus but jumped in a taxi. I gave the driver a tenner and told him to keep the change.

Six and a half million hits later...

Bebop Spoken Here has just chalked up its six and a half millionth hit. Started way back in 2008, more than 16,000 posts later, the award-winning jazz blog just keeps on going. Working out of an attic office above a bookies in downtown Hebburn (artistic licence), BSH's intrepid editor has expended plenty of shoe leather in pursuit of scoops and hard-boiled jazz stories, often stopping off along the way to look in at one of the the area's many thrift shops in the hope of getting his hands on that never seen or heard Buddy Bolden cylinder. It'll turn up one day...Working for peanuts, burning the midnight oil, LL continues to lead the way. The seven million is on the horizon... Russell    

Jazz at the Lit and Phil: Dave Newton and Dean Stockdale - May 17

Dave Newton(right), Dean Stockdale (pianos)

Usually one plus one equals two but not today at the monthly jazz recital at the Lit and Phil.  Today one plus one equalled a delightful  hour of piano music by two  accomplished musicians. Two pianos, two virtuoso pianists and another full house.

Dave Newton has topped the various annual British Jazz Awards’ ‘Best Pianist’ category on no fewer than sixteen occasions while Dean Stockdale has regularly delighted audiences nationwide with his solo piano, trio, and quartet performances including his critically acclaimed ‘Celebrating Oscar’ (Oscar Peterson) project which subsequently toured the British Isles.

Album launch: Strictly Smokin' Big Band and Friends @ the Fire Station, Sunderland - May 17

Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes
© Lance
Alan Barnes (reeds); Bruce Adams (trumpet); Paul Booth (reeds); Ruth Lambert (vocals) w. Strictly Smokin' Big Band (MD Michael Lamb)*

Based on hearing the album in advance, plus a review in Jazzwise where it garnered a whole galaxy of stars, as well as favourable comments elsewhere, the expectations were high and, by and large, they were fulfilled.

However, to use an old cliche this was very much a game of two halves. The first set was faultless yet, for some reason or other, the strings of my heart didn't go Zing! It was like a soccer match where your team do everything right but don't hit the back of the net - rather like being at the Stadium of Light just across the river.

Most of the fans that I spoke to were of a similar opinion despite the illustrious guests.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Lakecia Benjamin @ the Jazz Arena, Cheltenham Jazz Festival - May 4.

I had bobbed down to that Big Fancy London last year to see Benjamin at the Jazz Café. Since then she has continued her peregrinations around various international hot spots, in her quest to promote her fine Phoenix album. So, what did we learn from tonight’s gig? Firstly, she did not enjoy her visit to Budapest and, secondly, she came to make some noise. Whilst the main acts in the big tent next door were the sort of pop acts that help pay for the rest of the Festival, the Jazz Arena is where the next generation of big jazz headliners do their thing. Benjamin’s thing is loud, uncompromising, modern and reaching back to that explosion of Coltrane influenced music that lit fires that continue to burn.

Cheltenham Musings 2

In an underground lair somewhere someone is being tortured to design the most uncomfortable seat capable of accommodating the human body. Sacked from Ryanair they now work making chairs for the Jazz Arena at Cheltenham. Wafer thin foam covering accompanies a rigid steel frame cunningly placed just too close to the chair in front. I will say no more.

Zara McFarlane Presents The Music of Sarah Vaughan, @ the Jazz Arena, Cheltenham Jazz Festival - May 5

I’ve got a couple of Zara McFarlane CDs on the shelves at Sayer Towers so it was good to see her on the bill at Cheltenham promoting her forthcoming Sweet Whispers: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan album. She mixed some of her own songs from her own previous albums in with the Sarah Vaughan covers and talked about ‘Sassy’ as she introduced some of the classics, taking us through some biographical details, highlighting the moments of defiance and determination that led to the Sassy nickname.

Album review: Petra van Nuis and Dennis Luxion - From me to You

Petra van Nuis (vocals); Dennis Luxion (piano)

If I ever go to Chicago (sorry but I can't take you) my first stop will be at Le Piano on 6970 N. Glenwood Avenue and, if it's on a Saturday night, I'll hang around for the Afterglow set where Petra and Dennis hold down an ongoing residency from 11:00pm to 1:00am.

On the other hand, if I don't make it to O'Hare then all will not be lost. I'll have this album to listen to and luxuriate in the magic of their music.

Just as Ella and Ellis Larkins did when they set the benchmark with their 10" Decca album - Ella Sings Gershwin - over 70 years ago Petra and Dennis hit that same level. The empathy is there. The piano setting the mood, the voice picking up the baton and strolling with it.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Preview (updated): The Strictly Smokin' Big Band & Friends - Sunderland Fire Station (Fri. 17 May)

Sunderland, Friday night, half past seven, the Fire Station on High St. West is the place to be. Michael Lamb's magnificent Strictly Smokin' Big Band will be in party mode with the release of a new album and, on the night, the SSBB will be joined by three special guests. From swing to contemporary charts to original material, Tyneside's pride and joy will be entertaining gig-goers with a sparkling set featuring the ensemble, guest vocalist Ruth Lambert and these guys...Bruce Adams (trumpet), Alan Barnes (reeds) and local hero Paul Booth (reeds)! 

Late Night Chicago Radio w. Denny Farrell (May 16 to May 22)

Kenny Barron: The Very Thought of You.

John Coltrane: I'm Old Fashioned.

Diana Krall: Where or When?

Scott Hamilton: Skylark.

Oscar Peterson: Night Train.

Dianne ReevesOh What a Little Moonlight Can Do.

André Previn: Thank Heaven For Little Girls.

Sarah Vaughan: After Hours.

Kenny Burrell/Jimmy Smith: Since I Fell For You.

Paul Desmond/Jim Hall: Imagination.


Press release/preview: Jam - a photographic exhibition

© Kate O'Neill
My show ‘Jam’ (a photographic exhibition documenting musical performance) at 36 Lime Street Gallery this summer focuses on the ‘jazz jam’ community in Newcastle with a particular focus on The Black Swan/Newcastle Arts Centre.

For around 2 years, I have documented instrumentalists and vocalists as they sit in and perform at the Jam.


The Preview (Saturday 10th August: 6:00 - 8:00 pm) is my opportunity to invite and involve the players and audience. My plan on the night is to recreate a ‘micro’ - jam session by hiring a rhythm section and inviting regular jam participants to sit in and perform surrounded by images of themselves.

I'm also taking this opportunity to invite a wider audience to the Preview and feature some of the images from my up and coming show. Kate O'Neill


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