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Number 22 in World Jazz Blog Rankings

Number 22 in World Jazz Blog Rankings

Bebop Spoken There

Alan Luff: “The general view is that Ella’s songbook recordings are the supreme exemplars of sophistication, fine diction and creative voice in the wide field of popular music.” – (Jazz Journal May 2017).

Steve Voce: “Most of us have been crashed into by cretins who walk along the road absorbed in the screens of their mobile phones.” – (Jazz Journal May 2017).

Today Tuesday May 23

Evening
Davina & the Vagabonds - Sage Gateshead. 8pm. £18.
Charles Gordon (solo piano) - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle. 10pm - midnight. Free.
Zoe Gilby: Pannonica - The Fox Inn, West End Tce., Hexham NE46 3DB. Free. 9pm.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nov/Dec 2008 Deaths

Freddie Hubbard: Trumpet player par excellence. 29 Dec 2008 Eartha Kitt: Singer. 25 Dec 2008 Derek Wadsworth: Trombonist, Arranger, Composer Kofi Ghanaba (Guy Warren): African percussionist 22 Dec 2008 Page Cavanagh: pianist Page Cavanagh Trio. Prince Lasha: Free alto saxist. 12 Dec 2008 Bryn Collinson: Hartlepool sax player, 12 Dec 2008 Derek Moore: Academic and jazzman Tony Reedus: drummer, Woody Shaw etc. 16 Nov 2008

Jazz Esquires at the Porthole

Some swingy music from the Jazz Esquires led from the back by Laurie Brown on drums. Ex Squad. Laurie's crisp brushwork ensured that "Cute" was just that with good solos all-round. "In A Mellotone" and "Strike Up The Band" also had a nice swing feel to them with Eddie Bellis's trombone as smooth as they come. On trumpet, Mick Hill had some good blasts whilst Bill Brittain (pno), Robin Douthwaite (gtr) and Bill Colledge (bs. gtr) had their own magical moments.
During the intermission one of my former musical accomplices, George Laing, played a short set on piano along with Bill Colledge and Laurie. "All of Me" and "I'll Be Seeing You" were two particularly outstanding numbers and I was pleased to note that advancing years have not dimmed his creativity.
George gave way to Colin Johnson on piano and Miles Watson on trumpet for a jam with Laurie and Robin. Dave (not Weisser but a Scottish 'Sinatra' also called Dave) bravely attempted to sing "Aint Misbehavin'", unmiked, before the band returned for a flagwaving "It Don't Mean A Thing". Miles stayed on stage for this one.
Very enjoyable and not a banjo in sight!
Miles has since informed me (see comments) that his name is Dave Bosomworth and he belongs Yorkshire.

Courtney Pine - C.B.E.

I notice in the New Year's honours list our boy Courtney Pine has been awarded a CBE. Not as desirable an accolade as being admitted to the Down Beat Hall of Fame but I suppose it'll do in the meantime.
Now, whilst I don't begrudge CP his CBE, I can't help thinking that there are other musicians in this country more deserving of such recognition. My personal choice would be Bruce Adams.
Last year, most deservedly, Andy Hamilton got an MBE and Martin Taylor too has one hanging above the mantlepiece. A cue for a song; "Any Place I Hang My MBE is Home."
I'm not sure about Alan Barnes, Guy Barker and Digby - I've got a feeling they too may have some letters after their names.
The main thing is that whether or not you agree with the honours system and I personally do, anything that brings jazz to the public's attention can't be bad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quote

Just read this quote by Aaron Copland: " To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself - incredible and inconceivable." Liz

Freddie Hubbard Dead - age 70. R.I.P.

Just heard via Russell, our 'Man at the Morgue', that Freddie Hubbard has passed on - age 70. One of the trumpet greats, he ranks alongside Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Art Farmer, Nat Adderley as the best of the second wave of modern trumpet men. I was privileged to see and hear him live on a couple of occasions; at the Cleveland Jazz Festival - that's Cleveland as in Middlesbrough - in 1978 and (left) at the North Sea Festival in Den Haag in 1983. On both occasions he was outstanding.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Funny Valentine

"A Funny Valentine" - The Story and Music of Chet Baker. A play due to be performed at Darlington Arts Centre on 29 March 2009 and at Alnwick in April. It should be of interest to the inhabitants of Planet Bebop Spoken Here. Click here for further details.

(Good Time) Jazz in the Afternoon at Culler'

Close your eyes, imagine there was a trumpet player, and you could be listening to Turk Murphy or the Firehouse Five at Earthquake McGoons in 'Frisco back in the 1940s. Well perhaps not quite but there is a distinctly Good Time Jazz feel about the Monday lunchtime bashes at the Crescent Club aided perhaps by the view looking out on to The Bay.
Not quite as rip-roaring as last week with the bagpipes, although not the banjo, mercifully laid to rest for another year, it was, nevertheless, a pleasant enough way to pass a couple of hours. Today, the stand was graced with the presence of Barry Soulsby on clarinet and vocals alongside Brian, John, Ian, Derek and Marshall. Theresa sang and Roy sat in on piano whilst Derek laid down his clarinet and banjoed away on some good old good ones.
On "Ja-da" Barry revived the old River City version - you remember it? "Albert, Albert, riding in his Sunbeam Talbot etc. etc."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zoe Gilby and Jim Mullen at Wakefield Jazz Club

Whispers from Wakefield indicate that Zoe Gilby, along with guitarist Jim Mullen, had a highly successful gig at the local Jazz Club earlier this month.
Accompanied by guitar wizard Jim Mullen, whom Zoe sat-in with at the Side Café last month, our girl is reported to have given an immaculate performance that was well received by the full house.
Wakefield Jazz Club looks to be well worth a visit if you're in that neck of the woods.
On New Year's Eve, the much travelled diva struts her stuff at the Pizza Express, Durham, followed by the George Hotel, Chollerford on New Year's Day and on 16 Jan it is Opus 4 at Darlington. Click here for photos. (Courtesy of Hilary Gilby).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Who is Hilma?

Last year I bought an LP by the Bruce Turner Quartet from a stall in South Shields market, listened to it a few times then put it on the shelf and, as you sometimes do, forgot all about it..
However, the recent postings, comments and the discovery of the Warne Marsh site prompted me to seek it out once more. The reason being that Dave Cliff plays guitar in the quartet and Turner's playing displays a slight Tristano/Konitz influence.
The disc, called appropriately enough "The Dirty Bopper", had the added bonus of being signed by Bruce Turner."
So what? you might ask. Well I'll tell you what, and this is where my curiosity begins ...
Bruce has signed it "Best wishes Hilma".
How many women do you know called Hilma?
My guess is none.
I Googled the name and there weren't many there either but there was one that stood out - Hilma Carter, widow of the late, great, Benny Carter. (Video link) Bruce Turner, Benny Carter - both alto players of a not dissimilar style.
Coincidence?
Probably; one English, one American and both now dead. If Mrs Carter had been called Mary or Belle or something I wouldn't have given it a second thought but Hilma?
If it did happen to be Hilma Carter how did it end up on a market stall in South Shields?
Nah - it has to be coincidence ... unless someone can tell me otherwise ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

R.I.P. Eartha - "Santa Baby" Dies on Xmas Day.

Okay, maybe Eartha Kitt wasn't a jazz singer as such but she was certainly capable of helping them out when they were busy and she did have a major part in the W.C.Handy biopic "St Louis Blues".
An unusual voice, it lay somewhere between Edith Piaf and Peggy Lee, that could, at times, grate whilst, on other occasions, be positively enchanting.
I personally will miss her not just for her voice but because, love her or hate her, she really did have what today they call the "X-Factor" or what we know as simply Star Quality.
Eartha had all that and more.
If she'd elected to stage-manage her demise, she couldn't have done it better than to die on Christmas Day - already "Santa Baby" is filling my head and will do for some time.
She was 81.

An Elf Warning

Merry Xmas from Lance, John, Roly as well as Liz, Russell, Colin and Jim who were on tour and couldn't get to the studio for the recording. Video supplied by John Taylor. Click here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Partying at the Porthole with the Maine Street Jazzmen

The party season continued at the Porthole; a North Shields pub that looks out onto the levee. On the stand, the Maine Street Jazzmen purveyed their own brand of Dixieland that delighted the packed room who responded with unfurled umbrellas in the true New Orleans tradition.
On social occasions such as this, entertainment is the motivating force and the residents of Maine Street have plenty of that. Fred Rowe, as well as blowing a strong lead also sang an amusing version of "Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" paraphrasing it as "I'm Getting Over a Hangover". Herbie Hudson played tram and chromatic mouth organ whilst Jim McBriety had some nice touches on alto and clarinet. Olive Rudd sang "Jeepers Creepers" and the rhythm section of Malcolm Armstrong (pno), Alan Rudd (bs) and Ollie (dms) kept it all together.
Topping off a splendid afternoon - I won a modest prize in the raffle!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jazz in the Afternoon at Cullercoats

At one point, the band comprised, sousaphone, bagpipes, electric piano, banjo, drums, 2 trombones, 1 trumpet and probably a partridge in a pear tree. I can't remember if this line-up was before the 'Funny Hat' contest or after trombonist/piper Ian McCauley sang "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot" what was sure was that Mama Wasn't Going to Allow No Bebop Spoken Here!
However, it was Christmas and the party/festive atmosphere did make for an enjoyable afternoon.
Theresa (pictured) sang a knockout version of Marlene Dietrich's "Falling In Love Again" complete with props and accent whilst the band and sitters-in gelled on "Muskrat Ramble" with Mike Durham (tpt) also doing an individual take on Cole Porter's "Let's Misbehave". Lawrence McBriety (tmb), Derek Fleck (clt), Brian Chester (pno), John Hallam (bs/sousa), a lady called Doris (bjo) and my old friend Marshall Walker (dms) completed the line-up. I hadn't seen Marshall for a number years and I was delighted to be greeted with one of his famous non-smiles (click here).
All in all it beat going to the dentist.

The Christmas Number One (in Hong Kong)

video

Oscar Peterson Trio Live at Ronnie Scott's - BBC 4

A typical Peterson bravura performance - has there been a more technically accomplished pianist in jazz? I don't think so although Tatum, of course, ran him close. In this set from 1974 the great man was joined by Barney Kessell on guitar and Niels Henning Oersted-Pederson on bass and it says much that Peterson towered so much above the other two that their true status was somewhat submerged.
Prior to the arrival of Barney and Niels, our man had played a couple of unaccompanied numbers; "I Should Care" and a particularly impressive version of "This Nearly Was Mine". I've always felt the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune never reaches its potential when sung in the semi-operatic manner demanded of it in "South Pacific" and here Oscar totally stripped it of any sentimentality even to the extent of adding some stride-like touches without losing its harmonic attraction.
Although not in the driving seat, Barney did have a couple of decent solos but it is my feeling that a guitarist - any guitarist - is on a hiding to nothing when Oscar is in full flight. (Roly says "Click here to Check Lorne Lofsky out" - see comments)
An enjoyable half hour.
The docs that followed on Billie and Bird were, to say the least, harrowing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

British Dance Band Music - Liz

I noticed a reader's letter in today's Telegraph bemoaning the fact that Radio 2 has dropped from their schedule one of the last programmes on this subject. The writer goes on to say that devotées might like to switch allegiance to: WMKV 89.3 FM, broadcast on the Internet from Cincinnati. This features American Big Band music & "London Rhythm" broadcast on Sundays & Fridays featuring the great London dance bands of the 30's & 40's Liz
Click here for schedule (add 5 hours for GMT)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Count Basie Live 1965 - BBC4

A black and white recording of a 1965 Basie concert was the major feature on tonight's BBC4 offering and it served as a timely reminder of just what a swinging band that outfit was. I recall, back in the mid '50s, the impact of the Basie band's first appearance in the UK. To an audience brought up on Heath, Parnell and co it wasn't just the power of the Basie brass team that left the fans gasping but the fullness of that power. Overnight, local brass sections crumbled, there'd been nothing like this since Joshua blew down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27).
Of course, British brass players have come on since those days but I doubt, even in 1965 when this concert was recorded, if they'd reached these heights.
An absolutely first rate concert with Lockjaw Davis outstanding on "Jumping at the Woodside" and "Whirly Birds". Drummer Rufus Jones also worked out impressively on the latter. Eric Dixon's flute on "Blues For Eileen", Al Grey on "I Need to be Be-ed With" and of course Basie's laid back piano were other highlights. "L'il Darlin'" - the sound of that beautiful Freddie Greene guitar appeggio chord leading into that luscious sax section brought back memories of first hearing it late at night whilst lying in bed listening to Willis Connover broadcast over the Voice of America radio station. I can still remember the thrill that a million subsequent hearings of the tune will never diminish.
Magic.
Tomorrow; Oscar at Ronnie Scott's, Billie Holiday & Charlie Parker documentaries.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Swing Thing - BBC 4

A program of mainly historic interest that, nonetheless, was worth viewing.
For me, as much as the music, it was the interviews with the ever suave Ellington, the black and white shots of New York City in the 1930s, and the dancers Jitterbugging and Lindyhopping that got my pulses racing. I had hoped for some footage of the Chick Webb Band at the Savoy Ballroom or the 1930s Basie Band with Lester and Sweets, and how could they 'do' Swing Era and not mention Gene Krupa or Harry James?
But, despite its failings, the program whizzed by and I look forward to the next two nights which include concerts by Basie and Oscar Peterson as well as documentaries on Billie and Bird. There is also an interview with Artie Shaw that is worth watching if you haven't already seen it.

More Djangology from John Taylor

Some good reed playing from a French lass and lad as well as good guitar from Jim Birkett and Keith Stephens who also banjos. On bass, Bruce Rollo boots, or should I say 'slaps' things along. I Got Rhythm. Dinah. Crazy Rhythm.

Louis Armstrong Night on BBC 4

Well done BBC 4. There have been times when I wondered if the Beeb had ever heard of jazz but fortunately this weekend wasn't one of them.
Three hours of anyone, even Louis Armstrong, may seem a lot but the three programmes were quite different.
A biographical hour preceded a live 1968 concert by the All-stars with Tyree Glenn (tmb), Joe Muryani (clt), Marty Napoleon (pno), Danny Barcelona (dms), Buddy Catlett (bs) and Jewell Brown (vcl) - Marty Napoleon was quite amazing - culminating with a "Louis Armstrong Night" at the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival.
For this, Satchmo himself commentated whilst musical tributes were paid by fellow trumpet players Bobby Hackett, Joe Newman, Ray Nance, Dizzy Gillespie and Jimmy Owens. Mahalia Jackson strutted her stuff on "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" before 'les tout ensemble' blasted out "The Saints".
Quite a night and more jazz on 4 tonight, Saturday & Sunday. Santa has arrived early!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Django Related Bliss by Liz

My son Kevin drew my attention to this YouTube clip of John Jorgenson that I thought I would like to share with you. Click.
Changing the subject, Frank Lockyer, husband and manager of Rosemary Squires sent me this 'at home' photo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dave O'Higgins with the Noel Dennis Quartet - Report by Russell Corbett

Middlesbrough town centre was all of a bustle with the Christmas shoppers (blissfully?) unaware of a wonderful gig happening almost within earshot in the Brittan Building of Teesside University where a lunchtime treat was being served up by tenor saxophonist Dave O'Higgins with the great Noel Dennis Quartet in attendance.
The audience eventually grew to about 100 appreciative fans.
First up was Wayne Shorter's ''El Gaucho''; an opportunity for all to stretch out. Next was Charlie Parker's ''Au Privave'' taken at a great tempo with each musician afforded solo space. The hightlight, for me at least, was Victor Young's ''Stella by Starlight''. Noel, on flugel, played a beautiful, extended solo, garnering approval from O'Higgins. The closing number (the time flew past) was a Higgins original, the eponymous ''In the Zone'' from his 2007 CD release. Andy Champion and Adrian Tilborok (bass and drums) were excellent (as one would expect). Adam Dennis at the piano was superb. Great stuff.
Russell

Liz Gives Her Age Away!

Remember that slogan" You're never alone with a Strand!" well it came to my mind just now reading of what's on offer gig wise in the North East. What a feast...guess you're never alone in the N.E. with... "all that jaaaazz" Liz
Well Liz, fancy you being able to remember that far back!
Gig listings can be deceiving and I've been to a gig or two lately where the guy in the old Strand commercial would have been a crowd!
Just heard via Roly's Blaydon website that the club's present venue is closing down and the hunt is on for new premises. Let's hope he succeeds.
Nevertheless, the NE doesn't seem to do too bad compared to some parts of the country. What gets me are those audiences who fill venues such as The Sage yet wouldn't dream of going to hear a local band in a pub/club. They remain blissfully ignorent of the wealth of young jazz talent that there is around here; much of it emulating from the Newcastle College whose Music Dept. is very jazz orientated. I'm quite sure that Jim Birkett is, in no small way, responsible for the current upsurge in jazz guitar playing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kevin McKenzie Quartet - Schmazz at the Cluny

There are times when I leave a Schmazz @ The Cluny gig wondering if I've been transported into the next millennium or indeed if I'm still on the same planet. There have even been times when I've feared for my sanity or at least that of those around me. I'm delighted to say that, tonight was not such a night. The Kevin McKenzie Quartet, displaying a rare brand of originality, managed to incorporate a suggestion of Scottish folkiness with some post contemporary hard blowing that verged on the free but never became totally unshackled—I'm pleased to say. Tenor saxist Phil Bancroft had some storming moments that at times reflected early Ornette or maybe Archie Shepp. These contrasted with the more sedate playing of Kevin McPherson whose guitar mastery was beyond question. The two also indulged in a few fascinating choruses of improvised interplay. Behind them, Aidan O'Donnell on double bass provided the harmonic foundation for the two frontmen's flights of fancy whilst on drums, Tom Gordon, an absolute colossus, drove them unmercifully forward. Tom also contributed several powerhouse solos. This is pretty close to being as good as it gets at the cutting edge.
Photos click here.

Ned Kelly Big Band Clip from Colin Aitchison

video Next time you're over here, Colin, bring that crowd - the audience - along to a few gigs! We could do with that level of enthusiasm.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Little Bit of Bebop

Came across this MYSPACE page of Angela J.Elliott - a poet/jazz singer that others may care to check out.
Three titles to play or download including the above which is a delightful Blossom Dearie/Annie Ross style vocal. Also, there is "The Day Lee Morgan Died" which I have referred to in previous posts. This is done as a poem set to Morgan's "The Sidewinder" and describes in a poetically graphic manner the events of that fateful day.
Her band, "Special Edition" are on all tracks and get a great jazz/funk feel.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

BBC 4

There's some jazz and jazz related items on BBC 4 next Thursday/Friday (18th/19th Dec.) evenings. Thursday 9.00: Omnibus profile of Louis Armstrong inc. contributions from Melly, Brubeck and Lyttleton. 10.10: Show of the Week : Performance by Louis Armstrong. 11.00: Louis Armstrong - Good Evening Everybody. 12.00: Film: The Fabulous Dorseys. Dreadful film but includes a few bars of Art Tatum. Friday 7.00: Film: Robin and the Seven Hoods. Rat Pack Romp. 9.30: The Swing Thing. Archive jazz footage from the 1920s to the present day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

WJRK Play HUMPH

The Rhythm Kings of West Jesmond, with a little help from their friends, paid tribute to the late Humphrey Lyttleton tonight. Because of the stylistic boundaries set by the band only numbers from the great man's Neanderthal period were played which was a shame as it was during his post 1957 years that Humph truly matured; both as a bandleader and a trumpet player. Nevertheless, having said that, the Rhythm Kings gave an authentic recreation of those heady mouldy fig days even going to the extent of unfurling a banner that read 'Go Home Dirty Bopper' recalling that legendary event at Birmingham Town Hall when Bruce Turner joined the band. Mike Durham played to perfection the part of Humph the Younger, musically, and Humph the Elder, verbally, quoting at length from the numerous books written by jazz's most famous ex- Guardsman and, of course, the radio program he hosted for many years,'I'm Sorry I Haven't a clue'. The front line of Mike, Derek Fleck (alt/clt) and Brian Chester (tmb) were augmented for most of the evening by Barry Soulsby on clarinet; he brought extra sparkle to the band. The rhythm section of Keith Stephens (bjo/gtr), Bruce Rollo (bs), who replaced Phil Rutherford (sousaphone) for the second set, Pete Soulsby (dms) and Brian Chester who occasionally laid down his trombone and slid over to the grand piano - most notably in "Bad Penny Blues"- excelled. All in all a pleasant evening for one 'Dirty Bopper' (me) who didn't go home until practically the end. Click for photos.

Xmas Party at Blaydon

The icy roads in my neck of the woods last night meant I had to miss the above gig but my ears to the ground tell me that it was a grand night with Frank Brooker blowing well and Ruth Lambert in good voice. Both ably backed, of course, by the Jeremy McMurray/Roly Veitch Quartet.
Apparently, It was a good turnout too despite the weather.
Anyone who was there and wants to provide a more in depth record, possibly with a photo, please feel free.
John Taylor kindly supplied this photo and a report that was brief, consise and to the point.
"It was a great night."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jools Holland and his R & B Orchestra - Report by Jim & Jane

Last night's main event at Newcastle City Hall rocked off to much approval from a full house as Jools launched into a boogie intro and, with knife-like precision, the 19 pce orchestra took off. The result was quite stunning and the rest of the night whizzed by with much of what followed drawn from his newly released 2-CD set " The Informer".
Ruby Turner sparkled on "St Louis Blues" and "See See Rider" as did Rico Rodriguez on the 1960's Nat Cole song "L-O-V-E ". Louise Marshall proved popular while special guest Marc Almond sang with much gusto on a more recent pop tune, "Tainted Love".
Jools had his fair share of warbling throughout the night, solo spots were never less than good, with many excellent renditions. Somewhere among the encores was a rousing rendition of "String of Pearls" strictly R&B style of course.
Earlier, guitar/vocalist Chris Gifford, backed by a girl singer played a pleasant enough support set before the entry of 'The King'.
To sum up, an evening full of toe tapping music and hot house solos. Such energy should be bottled!
Overheard comment, "it's like listening to 5 concerts in one".
A word of caution to strict Jazzers, you will be invited to sing along on some numbers as befits this form of entertainment.
Regards Jim and Jane McDowell

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alan Glen Trio Raising the Bar at the Chilli

Just when I thought the Alan Glen Trio couldn't surpass last month's performance at the Chillingham they play a set so totally out of this world it should have been recorded. Will the trio never put something down? They owe it to posterity.
Tonight's program, as always, included a fine selection of gems from the gasbook. The mood, set by the opening "Four", culminated with an uptempo blast on "I Hear Music" complete with the inevitable kickass drum solo from David Carnegie that surely won friends and influenced people.
In between, Lawrence B on bass, solid throughout, excelled with a thoughtful solo on "Whisper Not" whilst Alan G, in his usual laid back style, really hit the jackpot when he took a trip on a train and thought about you--Sinatra would have hired him on the spot!
"Just Friends" also scored one hundred and eighty.
When Dave "The Rave" Weisser salaamed in a gesture of worshipful appreciation he said it all.
Earlier, Take It To The Bridge - John Rowland blowing gutsy tenor, Mark Williams excelling on guitar and the eternally muted Dave on trumpet - had done things to, among others, "A Foggy Day", and Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness" that didn't hurt at all. However the pat on the back must go to Barry Ashcroft who made up for the lack of a bass player by putting in some effective left hand work on keyboard.
The final jam session set was a bit of a mixed bag but moments were had by Sara(h) on tenor, Simon on alto, James nee Felix on guitar, yet another Dave on bass guitar, David C now on piano and the rock solid Eric Stutt on drums.
"Blue Bossa" followed by "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" was the dose.
Next week, Laurie Brown joins 'The Ravers' on vibes for a Xmas party special.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Hong Kong News - Colin Aitchison

Here are some more pics for the Hong Kong section of 'Bebop'. These are of the Ned Kelly Big Band, that we put together six times a year.
Also, a matchbox photo from The Wheatsheaf, New York (near Whitley Bay and not to be confused with the possibly better known New York in USA.) There must still be people around who remember the Thursday Jam Sessions that started in the late 1940's, in fact a lot of people did learn to play there. I also remember meeting the late Joe Harriot (Alto Sax) at "The Sheaf" as they used to call it....
Cheers, Colin

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rosemary Squires - Afternoon Delight

Today was Rosemary Squire's 80th birthday and she celebrated it magnificently in the Pier Pavilion, South Shields. Accompanied by the impeccable Brian Dee on piano and local boy Pete Stuart on bass it was an afternoon of pure magic. Nostalgic? Of course it was! Yet even after all these years, the voice can still touch you and, although I occasionally held my breath wondering if she was going to make the note she always did. Highlights included a rather wonderful song, new to me even though it dated back to a 1981 Lauren Bacall musical that ran forever on Broadway and in London - "Woman of the Year". The song was "Sometimes a Day Goes By (when I don't think of you)". "Nice Work etc.", "Day By Day" (or was it "Day in, Day out"?) and "Imagination" were others that verified her jazz credentials. However, this wasn't a jazz gig despite the brilliance of Brian Dee and Pete Stuart - it was entertainment full stop. If someone had told me beforehand that I would feel all emotional over an 80 year-old woman reciting Stanley Holloway's "Braan Boots" I'd have laughed - as it was I almost cried! My only regret is that there weren't more folk present to share the rare experience of possibly one of the entertainment world's best kept secrets .

Perdido St. Jazzmen

En route to the Rosemary Squires gig, in South Shields I encountered the Perdido Street Jazzmen on King Street (or was it the King Street Jazzmen on Perdido Street?) who were doing their best to bring some festive cheer into the lives of the Xmas shoppers - they faced tough competition as, opposite, Woolworth's were offering (up to) 50% off. No such discounts were available from Messrs Bennett, Chester, Fleck and Hallam who, on banjo, trombone, clarinet and sousaphone respectivly, make up the Perdidos. Nevertheless, despite the cold, the boys gave out with rousing versions of "When Your Smiling", "Jingle Bells", "My Blue Heaven" and other foot-tapping favourites.
They are resident every Sunday on King Street until Xmas - unless they succumb to frostbite.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Michael Parkinson by Liz

Just got "Parky" from the library, and am at the beginning. His musical interests are ours of course, he mentions his love of bebop, and the influence of Stan Kenton, Dizzy, Charlie Parker, the Great American song book. Then to the British influences of Humph, Cleo & John, Benny Green, Jimmy Deuchar, Ronnie Scott,Tubby Hayes et al. I miss him terribly on Sundays, no doubt in my mind that he is one of a dying breed, yours too I suspect. Having said that there's an awful lot of cricket jargon...bores me rigid!
Liz

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Favourite - Richie Kamuca by Roly Veitch

I suppose we all have favourite players - someone who's playing just registers with you in a special way. One of mine is tenorist Richie Kamuca. He was not an innovator - he was one of those players content to develop his own personal style within existing frameworks - a west coast type tenor with a strong Pres influence. Apparently he was a very sensitive, lovely guy with a great love of all jazz music and loved by the musicians/fans who knew him. I first discovered Richie in the 70s due to my liking for Dave Frishberg's music. I bought a Concorde album 'Drop me off in Harlem' which also featured Kamuca (duetting with Frishberg) and in a trio format with Ray Brown/Herb Ellis. A great album sadly not available on CD. Then I bought 'Richie' - an emotional album made when he was terminally ill. Richie died of cancer aged only 46, back in 1977. It features some lovely intimate music and delightful guitar from Mundell Lowe. Nick Ceroli and Monty Budwig complete the quartet. A very moving album! Kamuca worked with all the west coast greats and also with Herman & Kenton. Herman described him as his prettiest tenor player - when you consider the other great tenor players in those herds that is high praise. I'm just hoping some day Mosaic issue a box set of all the best Kamuca stuff and pay him the tribute he deserves.
When I walked into the Side Café a few months back and heard Vasilis Xenopoulos start up, for some reason, my immediate thoughts were 'Kamuca'. It just seems like here is a present day version, at least in my imagination. Not that Vasi sounds like Kamuca but there was just the same sort of feeling about it. That night when he played with the Paul Edis Trio was a bit special. So, in summary, I would recommend anyone who likes that Pres/Sims/Cohn/Getz tradition of tenor playing to check out Richie's moving, sincere and beautiful playing and also get along to check out Vasi next time he is up here. Roly

Handbagging at the Elephant. Ashington Jazz Club re-opens. Report by John Taylor

What an eventful night to bring jazz back to Ashington!! The skating rink that surrounded The Elephant last night prevented many of the regulars from attending. A few new faces came along and of course the Maine Street "groupies" were made welcome. Final total for the night was only 47.
At the last minute, Maine Street frontman trombonist Herbie Hudson secured the services of horn man Bob Ludlam (pictured); all the way from Rotherham. Bob has played Ashington once before but had been quite disorientated travelling/sliding up the A19.
Without a doubt Bob gave one of the finest performances we have ever heard. As there was a sale of handbags in the lounge he managed to get the word "handbag" into every tune he sang!The rest of the band rose to the occasion and the acoustics were a lot better than at our old venue.
A set of car keys was found in the lobby so I hope everyone got home safely through the snow that followed.
Once again many thanks to Herbie for booking Bob to join the Maine Street for our first night.
Friends in jazz
John .

Boppin' in Byker

Further to my 22 Sept post, 'Byker Bop' I have attached a track from the Jeff Hedley LP referred to. This is the only track on the privately recorded album that I don't know the title of. Perhaps there is someone out there, from that era, out who may be able to put a title to it.
Play.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jackie, Not Ronnie, McLean

The icy roads and the threat of snowstorms kept me housebound tonight. This was frustrating as I'd hoped to catch BUDVIVAR at the Chillingham; hopefully I'll make amends somewhere soon. Also tonight, one of this site's contributors, John Taylor, was presenting the Maine Street Jazzmen at the inaugral session of the re-organised Ashington Jazz Club. Let's hope the weather was better up there.
To compensate, I dug out some vinyl that I hadn't played for quite a few years; a double album by Jackie McLean to be precise. The four sides served to remind me just what a fine alto player he was. Although Parker influenced, no mere imitator he and his playing stands up alongside other New York altoists of the time (1950s) such as Phil Woods or Cannonball.
"Why Was I Born?", "A Foggy Day" and "When I Fall in Love", taken faster than the norm, see him cruise effortlessly and effectively through the changes whilst Mal Waldren's "Abstraction", with Donald Byrd 'doing' Miles is a deeply sensitive, probing composition that unbears the altoist's soul.

"Lights Out", a blues drenched opus that gave the title to one of the original albums that make up the set ("Contour" was the other) has more Milesisms from Byrd but it is McLean at his most Parkeresque who goes home with the cigar.Check it out sometime; it's bound to be on CD

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Banjology

Banjos seem to be a popular topic which has prompted me to post this hilarious clip of Eddie Peabody whom Clive Gray (local banjo hero) once described as his all-time favourite. Click here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Clem Avery Photo Gallery

Thanks to the Brothers Rae, Roly has created some photo pages dedicated to the late Clem Avery. To help share those photos, with his permission, I have added a link entitled "Remembering Clem Avery" which can be accessed from this post or from the right side panel.
Well worth a visit with lots of nostalgic shots (above) as well as more recent ones (below). Somehow, without words or music, they convey the kind of guy Clem was.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ruthless in York by Liz

How lovely it would be to be able to go for Christmas lunch tomorrow in Fenwick's Tivoli restaurant & listen to Ruth (pictured) who I don't know but have read of many times on "Bebop Spoken Here". I take off my hat to Fenwick's in Newcastle, they know how to give people a good time. We have a Fenwick's here in York...but there the comparison ends...abruptly. They had a fashion eve last Tuesday & all they could manage was a string quartet, OK you might say, but OMG it was like funeral music! what is it about the Geordies that sets them apart? if I knew I would bottle it!
Liz

Friday, November 28, 2008

'This and That' by Roly

Hello Lance
I looked at Four Brothers with interest. There seems to be some fantastic players over in the old communist block countries - I have heard quite a few folk, who have been over there, say that. We saw a marvellous trio in Denmark - I would say they were the knockout group of that particular festival. Everyone was enthralled by their virtuosity, swing and also humility. They were called PaCoRa Trio (I think from Slovenia) - the 'keyboard' guy plays a cymbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer. He was amazing. But so were the other two! Some good clips on YouTube.
And re the banjo 'Laura' debate check out Mercedeeez on YouTube. I suppose Laura is not a girl singer's song but I can just imagine this artist singing it, with banjo, and doing it quite nicely. Very cute don't you think??
Roly

Thursday, November 27, 2008

John Etheridge Trio North - Corner House, Heaton.

Music has few boundaries for John Etheridge who seems to be able to handle whatever pigeon hole he glides into. Tonight, in the company of Dave Tyas (dms) and Ben Crosland (fretless), he alternated wild thrashes that would have been considered loud in Yankee Stadium with tender balladry that could only have been marred by the dropping of a pin. In the latter mode, "Stormy Weather" was a thing of delicate beauty whilst his take on Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", although totally original was, nevertheless, respectful towards the composer's intent.
However, delightful as these moments were it was the mega volume blasts that got the adrenalin going as well as the front table couple who, fingers in ears, moved to the Bleachers. Even "Love For Sale" wasn't immune and drummer Dave Tyas, who was superb throughout, excelled in his extended solo. I wasn't so sure about Ben Crosland. He had his moments but there were times when his intonation seemed suspect. Then again, the Corner House has always been accoustically challenged so perhaps it wasn't Ben's fault.
I first heard John Etheridge back in the 1970s with Stephane Grappelli at Sunderland Empire, I heard him in the 1980s at a jam with Ian Carr, Tony Coe and Nigel Stanger at the Rising Sun Pub, Wallsend (photo) and again, more recently, at The Sage warming up Dee Dee Bridgewater. He's never failed to impress and his skills have been honed and perfected over the years. His raconteuring isn't bad either!

Four Brothers

Thought I'd draw your attention once more to this version of "Four Brothers" by Csabo and Katica Illenyi (actually brother and sister). They are Hungarian and I just love this performance even though the sync isn't perfect.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take it to the Bridge at the Chilli

Dave sang "When Sunny Gets Blue" - he did good; lots of feeling. Miles' "Solar" benefitted from John Pope on bass laying down a sound foundation for solos by Dave (tpt), Darren Grainger (alt), Barry Ashcroft (pno) as well as his chapeaued self. John is moving up the league table of bass players pretty fast and I think there will be one or two starting to look over their shoulders - must be the hat!
Not that Barry was the only bassist tonight. A guy called Mark wandered in off the street and had a sit in; he too proved an able player and also wore a hat.
Ian Forbes took over from Eric Stutt on drums during the second set; perhaps Eric is saving himself for next weeks session when he also plays with BUDVIVAR who are making their first public appearance at the Chilli.
Extreme Measures' Stuart Davies, normally on 'hatless' bass, was tonight on lead; he proved himself to be equally adept on six strings with a particularly fine solo on "Song For My Father".
All in all a pleasant session. Photos.
Don't forget that next week features a set by BUDVIVAR.

My Buddy - Buddy Rich

If you haven't heard/read this Buddy Rich lecture to his band click here. It's an insight into the mind of the late, legendary drummer.

WARNING! This item contains some non-swear words!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jim Mullen and Friends at the Side Café

After Sunday's Voice of the North concert, Adrian Tilbrook, Andy Champion and later, Paul Edis, must have viewed tonight's gig with Jim Mullen as akin to going from Wagner to Gilbert and Sullivan - not that there is anything wrong with Gilbert and Sullivan or for that matter, Jim Mullen. Indeed Jim Mullen is a fine guitarist and his easy relaxed style helped to fuel the ambience as the Side season cantered to a close.
A very facile player with the unusual technique of using his thumb rather than a plectrum he played an enjoyable set of gasbook standards as well as a few Parker/Gillespie rebel rousers. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" stood out among the former whilst the latter mood was typified by "Blue 'n' Boogie".
The second set saw Jim joined by a variety of performers - it was rather like the end of term prizegiving at school.
Paul Edis duetted with Jim on a tender version of "My One and Only Love" (I think), Zoe Gilby sang "Wave" with the trio and tenorman Graeme Wilson blew "Body and Soul" rather faster than the norm; it worked. Jim also played an exquisite, unaccompanied, "I Can't Get Started" that drew an audible gasp of delight from at least one lady in the audience.
Throughout, Adrian and Andy gelled with Jim and both had plenty of exposure. Andy is the only bass player I've come across who can make a bowed solo swing whilst Adrian can muster more facial expressions than any drummer since Gene Krupa!
If I were to nit pick it might be to comment on Jim's overuse of quotes but that would be unfair as they were done with taste and humour - particularly the minor interval he often finished them off with.
Overall, a very enjoyable session.

Three Piece Sweet - Roly Veitch

Hello Lance,
Frank Wappatt, on Radio Ncle, did an extremely enthusiastic review of this trio CD last night. It features Keith Stephen (gtr/bjo/uke), Caroline Irwin (vcl/uke/cornet) & Bruce Rollo (bass). He played three tracks - "Autumn Leaves" featuring Caroline beautifully singing the French lyrics, "Tiger Rag" (a virtuoso banjo tour de force for Keith) and another nice vocal by Caroline, "Exactly Like You." He then went on to play "Black Beauty" by Steve Andrews' legendary 'Savannah Syncopators'. So Frank certainly did the local jazz scene proud last night.
Roly

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra at Georgian Theatre Stockton

Adrian Tilbrook told me in advance that Issie Barrett's scores were challenging - he may have used an earthier description - and he was right! Fortunately, the VOTNJO boys proved themselves up to the occasion and the result was, for me, a landmark not just in local or even British Jazz but big band jazz without frontiers.
Ms Barrett, who not only composed and arranged her scores but also used her full body language to conduct them, is without doubt one of the most outstanding writers in the jazz field and, no doubt, beyond.
At times, the ensemble sounded as if Ellington had arranged something by Schoenberg for the Kenton Band. The power of the brass, often voiced atonally, contrasted with the harmonic variations from within the sax section whilst punched along by a rhythm section that rarely saw four beats in any one bar and yet, in a roundabout sort of way, it swung!
Not to be outdone, VOTNJO leader John Warren's own comps and arrangements also drew the best from the orchestra. Lew Watson's tenor solo on JJ's "Lament" - a moment of beauty - was a case in point. However, it is unfair of me to single any one player out - this was a team effort and, as such, all were deserving of the highest of accolades.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mama Does Allow at Ashington

Further to my previous post, site visitors will be aware that Ashington Jazz Club has been looking for a new base after 15 yrs at the Queens, Guide Post.
The good news is that they now have a new venue; upstairs in The Elephant Public House, Newbiggin Road, Ashington tel. 01670 814157. Most people know where it is; in actual fact, as the North Seaton Hotel, it was where the club began in the 1980s and, because it's actually in Ashington, it is hoped that it may attract a bigger audience.
New organiser John Taylor informs me that the first gig is on Wednesday 3rd Dec and features the Maine Street Jazzmen. Starts at 8.30 pm.
John is planning to present bands on a monthly basis.

Bess, You Is My Woman Now

Television isn't the most jazz friendly media so that when I heard the sound of a big band belting out a stripper style number I thought that, perhaps, Jools Holland had marshalled his troops in a new direction. It was in fact a commercial for "Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire Puddings" Now if her Yorkshires taste as good as her soundtrack sounds then they should be delicious. I'm just off to the supermarket ... Click here to watch and listen.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Mama Don't Allow" at Guide Post.

The Queen's Head at Guide Post, I am informed by bush telegraph, is no longer a venue for jazz. A change of management has resulted in "Mama Don't Allow" becoming a reality and Ashington Jazz Club are looking for a new home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Vibes At The Not So Chilly Chilli This Week!

The exclusive coterie of enthusiasts at the Chilli had a special treat this week - the heating was back on. Also, with former Squadronaire Laurie Brown on vibes and later drums, musical delights too were there to be savoured.
Lawrie produced an excellent arrangement of "Stepping Out With My Baby" that had good solos all round. Tough tenor John Rowland put the boot in with an earthy blast that set the mood for other punchy choruses from Dave, Lawrie, Mick Danby (bs gtr) and Barry Ashcroft (pno). Earlier, a 12 bar in F had got things up and swinging. The band were playing "Love Walked In" when in walked John Pope wearing the seemingly obligatory double bassist's hat.
John took to the stage for the second set providing the rhythmic impetus whilst Mick played a more melodic role; at least he did until the Carlsbro amp blew up and was stretchered off during "St Thomas"; St Thomas obviously isn't the patron saint of amplifiers. This didn't deter Mick who shook some shakers and added calypsonic vocalese. For this number Lawrie spelled Eric Stutt on drums. As the night progressed, Mick threw in a bluesy vocal and played a frugal flugel on "Take The A Train". A man of many talents.
Other numbers included Mulligan's "Five Brothers", "Blue Skies", "It Don't Mean a Thing", "Anthropology" and Frank Rosolino's "Blue Daniel". The latter is a 14 barred 3/4 structure that, although recorded by the brothers Adderley, I will forever associate with the late tenor player Syd Warren as it was the first tune I ever heard him play. This was upstairs in the Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay; a room that was not unlike the upper room where the disciples meet at the Chilli.
Apart from Pope John, the sitters-in sat-out this week.

A Nice Day in Cullercoats - Report by John Taylor

Another great session with the Vieux Carre Jazzmen at the Cullercoats' Crescent Club. Roger Myerscough, better known as reedman with Phil Mason, guested with the band and sounded as if he had played with them for ever albeit not without some direction from the master Fred Rowe along the way. Roger was the absolute pro. on both bari. and clt.
Standing room only and a few new faces in the audience. Three drummers who had played with the band in the past were present and one lad sat in for a couple of numbers.
A nice day in Cullercoats.
Friends in Jazz,
John Taylor.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jim Mullen - My Ship

Jim Mullen playing "My Ship" - a little taster of what to expect at the Side Café this coming Monday 24 Nov.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Andy Champion - HCW - Jam Session at the Side Café

The penultimate session of this season at the Side Café began with a compelling solo performance by Andy Champion on double bass. Andy has a futuristic vision that I must confess exceeds my musical horizons. Nevertheless, I appreciate his technique and applaud his involvement; perhaps one day I will have a deeper understanding and follow in the same direction; perhaps.
We were brought down to earth in the second set by the newly formed HCW:Hirst, Carr and Worsley. John Hirst (dms), Edd Carr (7 string guitar) and Cristos Worsley (bs). They opened up with an explosive downtown Chicago Night Owl Blues type number - all that was missing was a "My woman done gone an' left me" vocal - and continued with a series of, as yet unnamed, originals in a post jazz rock vein before culminating in an almighty mindblowing fusion of sound finale.
Powerhouse drumming, inventive guitar playing and basslines that didn't just walk but kicked ass doing it.
Great set.
Afterwards, I had the priviledge of chatting to a gentleman, and I use the word advisedly, whom I took to be Cristos' father; Johnny Worth, aka Les Vandyke who, apart from once singing with the Oscar Rabin Band also wrote many hit songs for Adam Faith and other stars from the 1950s onwards. Check him out here.
In the jam session that followed, Andy Champion was on drums, David Carnegie piano and Edd Carr guitar. Didn't catch name of bass player.
Photos

Herbie Hancock - Sage, Gateshead 14 Nov.

Click here for Journal review by Paul Lorraine. (The Sage). Click here for Times review by Alyn Shipton (Royal Festival Hall). Herbie gave a warm interview on Breakfast tv this morning. If you were at the Sage gig we'd love to have your take on it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spotlight on Spotlite

In the right hand column I've added a link to Spotlite Jazz; not for any commercial reasons but because of the amount of quality, mainly British, CDS in their catalogue; at good prices too!
Just as Tempo and Esquire provided the outlets for Brit Jazz in the 1950s Spotlite have done the same with material from the 1960s onwards.
If your tastes run to guys like Tommy Whittle, Pete King, Dave Cliff, Tubby Hayes, Don Rendell, Allan Ganley or singers such as Barbara Jay and Lee Gibson to mention but a few then there is a treasure chest of riches to choose from.
Also available is the complete American Dial catalogue from the 1940s. Legendary performances by Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Howard McGhee, Diz, Dodo, Al Haig - all the bebop pioneers including Birds earliest sides with Jay McShann.
EMail Tony Williams (not the late drummer) for a catalogue.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another Tribute to Clem.

So sorry to hear the news of the death of Clem Avery. As you know Lance, Clem did go back a long way, when my father Hughie Aitchison and he used to play on the Tyneside Jazz scene in the 1950's, and of course those great years when I was a boy taken by my dad to Forth Banks New Orleans Jazz Club in the 1960's, to hear and meet all of those great characters on the jazz scene at that time.
I myself did go through a music course with Clem at The College of Arts And Technology in Newcastle in the early 1970's. He was always a warm and gentle man, and a very knowledgeable musician. It was just a couple of years ago that I took my wife, Jeannie, over to see and meet him playing with the Rae Brothers, and after all the years since I had last seen him he was still the same warm and talkative Clem. I'm sure he will be very much missed on the local jazz scene. Many thanks Lance for keeping me up to date...

Sincerely Colin Aitchison Hong Kong

An Ear to the Ground

Rumour has it that trumpet man Alan Smith has parted company with the Maine Street Jazzmen.
Also, the whisper is that their Wednesday night residency at Hebburn's Iona Club ends this month.
Gershwin's Restaurant has closed and Tavistock Italia have adopted a 'no jazz' policy.
This means that, apart from Fenwicks' Tivoli Restaurant's short season of Sunday lunchtime trio sessions and Saturday night's gig at the Jazz Café, there are no regular Saturday/Sunday jazz on the Tyne venues. Perhaps some enterprising entrepeneur will step in. Otherwise, it means a trip to Teeside.
Actually, that's not a bad idea for next Sunday lunchtime (23rd Nov) - VOTNJO at Stockton's Georgian Theatre.
Tuesday (7.00 pm) Guy Barker leads the London Jazz Orchestra in concert on Radio 3.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Keith Nicholls' Blue Six Plus at the Saville Exchange North Shields

An enjoyable, easy listen to music of the 1920s as it was played back then by Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang and Adrian Rollini.
Tonight those roles were taken, respectively, by Mike Piggott (violin), Spats Langham (gtr, bjo, uke, vcl) and Frans Sjostrom (bs sax), supported by Norman Fields (alt, ten, c-mel, clt), Nick Ward (dms) and led by Keith Nicholls (pno, acc, vcl) with cameo appearances by Mike Durham (tpt) and Paul Munnery (tmb).
Lots of vintage tunes, and by vintage I mean numbers that go back to, and here I quote Mike Piggott, 'When Long John Silver had both legs and an egg on his shoulder'!
There was more humour and lots of good playing all round with a Venuti/Lang duet by Mike Piggott and Spats, "Wild Dog," that was particularly appealing.
A decent turn out too.

Ken Vandermark, Barry Guy & Mark Sanders at the Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle. Report by Russell Corbett.

Chicagoan Vandermark is in the tradition of Charles Gayle (at the Star & Shadow last year) and Peter Brotzmann - a verocious player, playing without compromise.
Double bassist Barry Guy and percussionist Mark Saunders met him head-on--both have the energy and intensity to go twelve rounds with him. The one-hour set did have light and shade but it was the primal scream that captivated the audience; a good turn-out of about sixty. Tenor-man Vandermark loved 'the space' (the venue). The audience loved him, Guy and Saunders.
Alex Bonney (trumpet) & Dave Kane (double bass) provided a well-paced support set. A series of brief, to the point pieces.
Russell Corbett

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paul Edis/Graeme Wilson/Paul Gamblin w. Jeremy McMurray Trio at Blaydon

Tonight was interesting if not earth-shattering. Paul Edis and Graeme Wilson both had moments of excellence on flute and got a good sound together. "Line For Lyons", the old Gerry Mulligan number, came over well as did Bud Powell's "Hallucination". What is it with Bud Powell this week? Everybody's doing him which is no bad thing as, not only was he a piano genius, but he also wrote some good tunes in the bop idiom. On guitar, Paul Gamblin kept the bop lines flowing sounding at times like his father, the late, great Eric.
On piano, Jeremy McMurray, by his standards relatively restrained, nevertheless had several solos of substance whilst Andy Champion and Bill Shield were rock solid.
Overall? Just another day at the office albeit pretty close to being the swingingest office in town!

One Bass Hit. Barry Guy at Newcastle Uni.

Barry Guy didn't wear a hat although it may have been advantageous for the audience to have worn hard hats. Sticks and beaters shooting off at oblique angles are not an unusual occurrence when this 'guy' is in full flight!
I have to admit that the idea of an hour of solo double bass didn't exactly fill my heart with rejoicing but it was free, in every possible sense of the term, and Barry Guy is undoubtedly a master of his craft so I thought 'why not?'
To understand that craft, all pre-conceived ideas on bass playing must be cast aside before entering this musical demi-monde otherwise instant insanity could occur.
True, there were moments of absolute beauty that touched my very soul; there were also moments when I thought either he or I were out on license from Bedlam.
These were the frenetic bursts that reminded me of Syd Millward and his Nitwits - or was it Dr. Crock and his Crackpots? Whatever, I remember the bassplayer in one of those bands ended up sawing his bass in half with the bow!
All this notwithstanding, it was a mindblowing performance that drew a mega positive response from the crowd and did give me a feelgood factor that I wasn't expecting.
As a footnote, John Pope was spotted so presumably he hasn't been on a Polar expedition.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two Bass Hat - This Week at The Chilly

If you want to get a bass get a hat seems to be
the motto for bass players at the Chilly these days. John Pope set the trend a couple of weeks back with a woolly headcovering not unlike those favoured by building workers and Antarctic explorers. As John hasn't been sighted since, perhaps, even as we speak, he is setting up a Base (Bass?) Camp in the Southern Shetlands. One thing is sure, it couldn't have been any colder down there than it was in the aptly named Chilly tonight. Lawrence Blackadder (pict.left) and Claude Vanner (right) both sported headgear that didn't impair their musicianship in the slightest. Although Claude is of Chilean origin, I will resist the urge for anymore chilly jokes and say that, as well as being a master of the tenor sax, he is no slouch when it comes to bass playing either - with or without a hat. With the aid of Eric on drums and Barry on piano he helped Dave to Take it to the Bridge yet again.
Lawrence, making his monthly appearance as part of the ALAN GLEN TRIO, did his bit to make their set one of the best yet.
Alan was in Bud Powell mode and he kicked of with "Bouncing With Bud" followed by "Groovin' High". This was bop piano at its best and several other anthems from the era were given the treatment.
In a softer vein, "My Foolish Heart" surely re-kindled many a past romance in the mind of the listeners as he cajoled every ounce of tenderness from the keyboard. "My Funny Valentine" evoked similar emotions.
David Carnegie's brushwork matched the mood of the moment before reverting to sticks for the finale; another uptempo bopper that had him exploding into a powerhouse solo that brought the set to a breathless climax.
The jam that followed included Nicola (alto), "Felix" and Daniel (gtrs) and Ben Gilbert (pno).
Next week: Lawrie Brown (vibes).
NB: The appearance by BUDVIVAR is actually on Wednesday 3rd December and not as I previously announced.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gerry Richardson's Big Idea at Newcastle College. Reports by John Taylor and Russell Corbett

Gerry Richardson's Big Idea gave a very polished performance at Newcastle College last night. This was my first concert at the performing arts theatre and the acoustics were really good. Sometimes organ led bands can be dominated by the organist. Not so with Gerry's band - everyone had space for excellent solo work. Only one small complaint - too many lighting changes.
John.
***********************************
Russell says:
First of all I agree with John's small complaint; the lighting was hopeless. The brass section was amused! So to the gig. Gerry wheeled-out the juggernaut that is the Hammond B3 and warmed-up the valves nicely with old favourite "Stone Church". Rod Sinclair featured on "Blues for Big Red" followed by the human metronome that is Paul Smith on the first of two African tunes. A better drummer there ain't for this band, simple as that.
The first set concluded with a smokin' take on "Take the Tee Train". The second half featured a Ray Charles medley; Gerry asked the audience to imagine the boys in the band as the Raelettes. A vivid imagination was called for! That said, Sue Ferris could no doubt make a go of it. On second thoughts Sue is better deployed in her present role; that of bringing superb flute, tenor and baritone sax playing to the session. A marvellous flautist, a tough tenor and tamer of the beast that is the baritone sax.
Stuart Johnson offered some blistering soprano sax (he deserves to be heard more). Last but by no means least, the man himself (GR) is a generous band-leader (solos all round), a singer in the Mose Allison/Georgie Fame mould (perhaps an acquired taste - I for one enjoy it) and no mean Hammond player! A Great Idea is the Big Idea. Another great idea would be to catch the band on its next Newcastle outing at the Corner House, February 5th next year. Russell.
(Gerry Richardson Hammond Organ & Vocals. Mark Webb, Dave Hignett trumpets. Gary Linsley, Stuart Johnson, Sue Ferris saxophones. Keith Norris trombone. Rod Sinclair guitar. Paul Smith drums.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ruth Lambert Quintet at the Side Café

Tonight was a tough call - the Ruth Lambert quintet at the Side or Gerry Richardson's Big Idea at the College? In the end I opted for Ruth and I didn't regret it; all five were on top of their game. Scorching tenor solos from Graeme Wilson - is there a better tenor player around? Imaginative pianowork from Paul Edis - his chunky block chords contrasting with some facile runs that verged on the impossible. Paul also filtered some laid back sensitivity onto the ballads. Andy Champion (bs) and Tim Johnston (dms) were also relatively laid back. Andy's day will come next week on his solo gig. Tim drove the uptempo blasts along nicely - they swung.
And Ruth? I've heard a lot of Ruth of late and I have to admit she never lets me down. Maybe she has off nights, maybe; I wouldn't know.
Last time I caught her she sang "No Moon At All". That tune wasn't in her program tonight but there was no shortage of lunacy with "That Old Devil Moon" and "How High The Moon"; the latter lifting off at somewhere close to the speed of light.
However, it was the ballad, "This Is Always," which did it for me; one of Harry Warren's finest.
In the jam that followed, Paul blew flute, David Carnegie sat in on piano and Felix who isn't Felix played guitar.
Good gig.

Miriam Makeba R.I.P

I can't pretend to have been a big fan of Miriam Makeba's for the simple reason I never heard her live and, until today, knew very little of her recorded work. I was aware of her political stance against Apartheid and the problems it brought but musically, for whatever reason, her discs never found their way into my collection.
I rather think that may change.
Listening to "The Click Song" and "Pata Pata" on YouTube I was struck by the infectiousness of the African beat and the happiness she seemed to create in her listeners.
"Mama Africa," she was well named, died 9 Nov. in Italy aged 76.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Keith Stephens' Hot Club Trio - New CD

That veritable tome of Jazzology - Jazz Journal International - in its November issue, reviews the latest CD by Keith Stephens' Hot Club Trio.
The CD, which features John Hallam on reeds and Caroline Irwin, vocal, alongside Keith (banjo & guitar), Bruce Rollo (bass) and Roly Veitch (rhythm guitar & vocal) receives what can best be described as a moderately enthusiastic review by, I think, Derek Ansell.
Visitors to this site can make up their own minds by listening to the YouTube clip (in the sidebar) of "I Saw Stars".
Mr Ansell did, however, raise a chuckle when he questioned the advisability of a melody, not "I Saw Stars", being played throughout on a banjo!
Bill Harper might agree on that one!
Nevertheless, banjos and Derek Ansell notwithstanding, the CD (KSHCT002) is well worth a listen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Take It To The Bridge at The Chillingham

Dave Weisser was the sole horn player this week - he sounded good. "Whisper Not", "Blue Bossa" and "Straight No Chaser" all worked. On the latter tune he shouted some Muddy Water blues that brought to mind Shelly Manne's vocal on Kenton's "Blues in Burlesque". If you're too young to remember that record, originally a two sided 78 rpm, check it out; you won't be disappointed!
Dave also sang and blew well on "Green Dolphin Street".
The second set saw Caroline Lee sit in on piano for a couple of numbers; "I Should Care" and "Alice in Wonderland". She soloed impressively with some chunky chords à la Brubeck thrown into the mix; look forward to hearing her again.
No other sitters-in this week so Dave, the one man frontline, varied the program with 'vocal interludes'. Russ Freeman's "The Wind" was previously unknown to me but it had moments of rare beauty.
With Jim Crinson on five string fretless, Eric Stutt, drums, and Barry Ashcroft (pno) the overall sound suggested an early Miles Davis Quartet.
Click here for Photos.
Future events include: 12 Nov: Alan Glen Trio. 19 Nov: Lawrie Brown (vibes). 3rd December (not as previously announced.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Graham Hardy Trio at the Side Café

Another jazz in miniature session, this time featuring Graham Hardy, mainly on flugel, Giles Strong, guitar and Mick Shoulder, who was also anchorman with Ruth this afternoon, on bass.
Giles, yet another outstanding guitarist to play at the Side, had some moments to cherish on "Body and Soul" as well a few impressive choruses of improvised counterpoint with Graham on the faster numbers. Charlie Parker's "Visa" scored heavily.
Graham manages to get a beguilingly wistful sound on flugel horn reminiscent of days gone by in LA when guys like Chet Baker and Art Farmer were helping to define 'The Cool School'. His phrasing is totally modern without any swing era hangovers or sorties into the unknown. With Mick, dependable as ever, the trio gelled.

Ruth Lambert Trio at Quadrata Café (Where?)

If you're making your first visit to the Quadrata Café allow yourself plenty time. It doesn't have a neon sign, or any other form of identification. The passers by that I quizzed had never heard of it and I'd begun to question its mere existence. However, to cut short a boring tale of worn out shoes and negative shaking of heads, let me just say that I eventually found it midst a complex of what appeared to be upmarket offices.
The reason for my quest was to experience one of their occasional lunchtime sessions of chamber type music both classical and jazz.
Today's recital featured Ruth Lambert, once more in trio format, this time with Mark Williams on guitar and Mick Shoulder on bass.
Although the acoustics were somewhat strange, our girl gave a faultless performance of the tried and tested with her 'boys' providing the comfort zone for an enjoyable vignette.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Farewell Friend. Roly Veitch Pays Tribute to Clem Avery.

I've just heard that Clem Avery passed away after a battle with lung cancer. He was 75.
The expression 'a gentle giant' seems to have been invented for Clem; a lovely, caring man with great integrity. A wise, gentle approach to life and a lovely dry sense of humour.
Clem was well read, had a deep knowledge of many things, not just music. He had an open mind to all forms of music - was a pro player/reader - studied music full time and among other things, held down a long term club residency (on bass) backing 'acts' etc.
He has been a very significant figure on the local scene over a long, distinguished career in jazz.
He started playing in the early 50s and soon formed his own band. Played at all the top local venue - New Orleans Club etc. Was part of that huge surge of interest in earlier forms of jazz that happened through the 50s in the wake of Humph etc.
I got to know Clem from going to some sessions in the mid 70s - when he found out I was trying to get into playing jazz he got me my first sit ins, took me regularly to The Main Street Jazzmen sessions in the mid to late 70s (at Heaton's Corner House) where Clem played bass, not his usual trumpet. Clem started a new band at The Golden Lion, Winlaton Mill - around 1977. Ronnie Mclean on tbn, Danny Dunbar clt, Clem tpt, Johnny Duncan bass, Chas Coles dms, myself on gtr. We had 7 very happy years there.
When we started at Blaydon in 1984 Clem came in on double bass with Marshall Walker on dms and Bill Smith tnr. 14 happy years at The Black Bull!
I've kept in touch since - he lived close by. Clem's jazz career had a huge renaissance in recent years when he joined Rae Brothers N O Jazz Band. Their gentle, unselfish, authentic version of early ensemble style New Orleans jazz has been a delight to jazz audiences at festivals etc all over the UK and beyond. I think the band suited Clem and he was ideal for them. They were, and still are, hugely popular and for good reason.
Clem was a unique and very special character - the local jazz scene has lost a much loved player/ambassador.
Roly Veitch
(A more detailed look at Clem's life can be seen on Roly's own website click here to view the ongoing project - Lance)

Rebecca Kilgore & Dave Frishberg by Liz

Knowing how much Lance and Roly love the voice of Becky Kilgore I thought they might have missed this review from yesterday's Daily Telegraph.
Rebecca Kilgore & Dave Frishberg Why Fight the Feeling? Songs by Frank Loesser Arbors, £13.99 Rebecca Kilgore is one of the few true individualists among contemporary jazz singers. She has style, taste, and an ability to phrase a lyric so that it makes sense, both musically and emotionally. This lovely set of duets with Dave Frishberg on piano is one of the best things she's recorded. Highly recommended.
Liz

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Clare Teal Gets Happy at Gala Theatre Durham by Jim McD.

From the very first number, multi award winning vocalist Clare Teal went off at full tilt in an attempt to inject a little happiness into last night's near capacity audience and, judging by their response to her efforts, the girl more than succeeded! Ms Teal is fortunate in having an extraordinary trio behind her in the form of Sheffield lad Mike Gorman (piano), Simon Little (bass) and a delicately swinging drummer from Leeds, Chris Dagely; they provided the perfect cushion.
Blessed with a highly expressive voice, Clare always brings something special to a song whether it be one of her own or one from the Great American Song Book.
A humorous lady who mixed cheerful asides with classy tunes from a classy era, Clare also talked about her influences which led her into "Tea for Two" Anita O'Day style (terrific stuff) and then "The Very Thought of You" as a kind of homage to Al Bowlly's style of singing. Later on, standout numbers were "Begin the Beguine", "Get Happy" and "Moondance".
Altogether a Get Happy event, sorry for you folks who missed out!
Jim & Jane

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About this blog - contact details.

Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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