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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.

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.

64 Joints (?) carries a '60s soul vibe over a thumping hip-hop beat; Collier excels on the drums, a real powerhouse. It’s an energy that the others don’t really match until Croker solos and everything moves up a gear; a ferocious bass solo anchors the tune whilst electric piano adds the soul. Croker floats another spacey line over the top and starts to add echo, reverb and various squelches which don’t really enhance the piece.

The next tune opens with a recording of Malcolm X talking about the contribution of women in developing countries and how their untapped potential can hold a country back. A nice, steady rolling, mellow groove develops behind the speech as Croker blows long, echoing, bluesy lines and Frederick adds decorative piano frills. Croker starts to construct a solo that takes him into the higher register before breaking off and blowing into the microphone he has set up for recording and mixing.

Frederick shines again as he opens Where Will You Go with a solo full of rich, elegant flourishes. His solo resolves into rhythmic pulse surrounded by cascades of notes from his right hand and we’re now working in a 1970s' soul/jazz groove. Croker launches into a rap and, unfortunately, the piano is lost in the mix beneath the bass and drums, which is unfortunate as it was providing the soul and the heart of the song. Croker plays a lovely solo, building from short notes until he is really reaching for the skies.

Croker and the rhythm section playfully call and respond before he blows some long, elegant lines as the tune settles into a propulsive, swinging funk that turns into a full-pace steeplechase. Now we can hear the electric piano as Frederick delivers a dense, chiming solo, driven hard from behind by bass and drums; Croker punctuates with a sharp line which grows into a long fluid solo.

A pounding opening brings on the closing tune, full of fury, it aims for the same level of transcendence as A Love Supreme. Croker’s echo fades and he comes roaring back over a punching, regular beat; the pianist establishes a rolling, bopping groove that is taken up by the drummer, Croker’s echo on his trumpet adds layers to his playing. Frederick’s Tyner-esque pianism tries to resolve the dichotomy of whether the piano is rhythm or harmony or both at the same time. Croker’s closing solo is full of flair and attack, driven on by Collier’s drums before the leader breaks off again to play with his array of effects and the energy level plummets again.

Croker is a fine player but clearly thinks his contributions on effects and electronics are the equal of those he provides with his trumpet. I fear that, on this score, he is mistaken. It may be that the group would work better with someone on the knobs full time, such as Leafcutter John did when he played with Polar Bear. That would allow Croker to get his trumpet out of its case more than he did on the night. Dave Sayer

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