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Bebop Spoken There

Orrin Evans: “I’d like to see a younger audience and an audience that looks more like me at the clubs.” – (Down Beat November 2014).

Kevin Flanagan: "Besides, I'd got sick of playing jazz to people who looked like my father." - (Straight No Chaser Issue 0ne Summer 1988.)

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Today Wednesday August 16

Afternoon
Vieux Carre Jazzmen - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.
Maine Street Jazzmen - Tynemouth Metro Station, Station Tce., Tynemouth NE30 4RE. 1pm. Free.
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Evening.
New Orleans Jazz at the Village Hall - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Rd., Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:15pm. £3.
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Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. £1. 8pm.
Billy's Acoustic Blues - Billy Bootleggers, 28 Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free (weekly).
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Tees Hot Club - Cleveland Bay, 718 Yarm Rd., Eaglescliffe TS16 0JE. 9pm. Free.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Latest Releases From Babel

Nick Smart's Trogon - Tower Casa. 
Dominic Lash Quartet Opabinia
Alexander Hawkins Ensemble Step Wide, Step Deep
Alexander Hawkins Song Singular
Raymond MacDonald & Marilyn Crispell Parallel Moments
(Reviews by Russell).
Nick Smart's Trogon - Tower Casa. 
Nick Smart (trumpet & flugel), Chris Montague (guitar), Kishon Khan (piano), Denny ‘Jimmy’ Martinez (electric bass), Dave Hamblett (drums) & Pete Eckford (percussion)
Tower Casa is the début release on the Babel Label of trumpeter Nick Smart’s Trogon. The CD’s publicity material suggests ‘Call it World Jazz, if you like’. Trogon, the band, is named after the national bird of Cuba and Smart has assembled a ‘Latin-infused’ sextet to help him ‘tell you tails of sunshine, passions and exotic journeys’. The first three tracks – Tower Casa, Kind Folk and Todi Or Not Todi – set off in the direction of Havana at a mid-tempo rate of knots. Smart’s ballad Candela (accredited ‘Traditional’) shines brightly, beautiful playing all round, more ‘jazz’ than overt Latin textures. Stan Sulzmann’s Round The Round It All and Everybody Else’s Song (comp. Kenny Wheeler/Nick Smart) reinforce the jazz credentials of the sextet; Chris Montague’s considered guitar playing is a joy (hearing him live confirms this), drummer Dave Hamblett and Pete Eckford (percussion) bag the Afro Cuban rhythms alongside the reassuring presence of  bassist Denny Martinez. Pianist Kishon Khan’s light, exuberant contribution is key to Tower Casa’s forward momentum. Smart – trumpet and flugel – gleefully hitches a ride aboard the musical clipper Trogon on it’s journey from cosmopolitan London to sub-tropical Cuba. Tower Casa is released on the Babel Label (CD and download), 2013 – BDV13129 on February 24.             
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Dominic Lash Quartet Opabinia
Dominic Lash (contrabass), Alexander Hawkins (piano), Ricardo Tejero (tenor saxophone & clarinet) & Javier Carmona (percussion)
Opabinia is the debut CD release as sole leader by Dominic Lash. The double bassist emerged from the influential Oxford school of improvisers, relocated to London then upped sticks for a while, throwing himself into the furnace of New York’s Downtown scene. He survived (positively thrived on) the experience, returned to London and set about recording Opabinia. The title of the CD and some of the tracks on it are named after creatures from the Middle Cambrian (in geology a period some zillion years ago). The music heard is of the present, at times digging down into the sub-strata of history (musical or geological). The musicians assembled by Lash are confrères and familiar names to those with an interest in the international improvised music scene. Pianist Alexander Hawkins is co-leader with Lash of the trans-Atlantic Convergence Quartet, Javier Carmona (percussion) has performed and recorded with Lash and Hawkins and Ricardo Tejero (sax/clarinet) has been on the London scene for a decade and more. Ten tracks offer great variety; the opening Isthmus delivers an improv statement – terse, introspective, the second two-part composition Waiting for Javier/Luzern surprises – a post bop Mingus workshop blowing affair supplanted by a wonderful full-on improv assault (Tejero’s angry tenor, Carmona’s responsive, argumentative percussion, Hawkins and Lash largely bystanders). Tone poems – including Hallucigenia and Wixwaxia – separate/link the compositions throughout. The all too brief Azalpho (Hawkin’s piano suggests a stroll in the park), Tejero’s tenor on Halt the Busterman evokes Roland Kirk’s loose, rhythmic feel and Double File returns to a contemporary classical mode. The album concludes with Piano Part Two/Catachretic, veering from bleak statements to contrasting swing sections. Opabinia is a first class statement of the current improv scene. Opabinia is available on the Babel Label (BDV13122) from February 24 in CD format and download. A recommended purchase and should gigs be announced make sure you get along to one of them.    
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Alexander Hawkins Ensemble Step Wide, Step Deep
Alexander Hawkins (piano), Dylan Bates (violin), Otto Fischer (guitar), Shabaka Hutchings (clarinet & bass clarinet), Neil Charles (double bass) & Tom Skinner (drums & percussion)
Pianist Alexander Hawkins has reshuffled his sextet eighteen months on from the release of the brilliant All There, Ever Out. The one survivor is guitarist Otto Fischer, the new recruits all familiar names on the contemporary jazz scene. Violinist Dylan Bates invites comparison with Leroy Jenkins and Ornette Coleman, Fischer’s sonic explorations place him left field and Shabaka Hutchings’ clarinet traverses any perceived jazz boundaries, moving effortlessly from improv to straight ahead settings. Bassist Neil Charles (Zed-U, Mingus Big Band) plays a major part on this album standing firm when all hell breaks loose on tempestuous freer sections (Step Wide, Step Deep – Space of Time Danced Thru and Listen/Glow) or with a light hand on the tiller navigating the calmer waters of the weary Township blues Advice. Percussionist Tom Skinner switches styles with casual facility – free, groove, swing – inviting Bates, Fischer and Hutchings to venture off in new directions. Mastermind Hawkins plays when he chooses, often content to let the ensemble develop a theme. When Hawkins plays, he plays! Seemingly with the history of jazz piano at his fingertips, the compositions on this new CD make exacting demands on the musicians and all demonstrate they are up to the mark. Art Ensemble, Braxton, Convergence Quartet…Alex Hawkins. If there is a finer pianist of his generation this reviewer wants to hear her/him! Step Wide, Step Deep is available from February 24 on the Babel Label on CD (BDV13124) and as a download.  
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Alexander Hawkins (piano)
Pianist Alexander Hawkins composes for quartet (co-leading Convergence Quartet) and his Ensemble sextet. Song Singular hears Hawkins explore his compositional ideas in a solo piano project documented on the Babel Label. Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton and Charles Ives are declared influences and Ellington and Tatum, as composers and pianists, are evidently of more than a passing interest. The ten tracks on the album develop from a compositional idea, none freely improvised. The opening piece – The Way We Dance It Here – references the percussive Taylor, Early Then, M.A. is a pastoral contrast, Take the A Train is respectful yet playful and Unknown Baobabs (Seen in the Distance) perhaps recalls an encounter with a new world as Hawkins splashes vivid colours onto a canvas prepared by Abdullah Ibrahim. The improvisations are rich in invention; dense, taut, sparse, all approached with dazzling technique. The CD’s publicity suggests Hawkins is the youthful heir to Taylor and Tatum. A bold claim, but on listening to Song Singular and having heard Hawkins in concert, there is validity to the argument. Is Alexander Hawkins the successor to Stan Tracey? On this evidence he could be. Song Singular is released on February 24 on Babel BDV13120.              
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Raymond MacDonald (alto & soprano saxophones) & Marilyn Crispell (piano)
Raymond MacDonald and Marilyn Crispell met for the first time in Gateshead at the now discontinued Jazz North East On the Outside festival. Their empathetic music making and personal chemistry set in place an enduring performance and recording relationship. Parallel Moments is a statement of their recent duet collaborations. Recorded in 2010, the CD reveals their improv conversations (the Atlantic a mere physical barrier) as highly developed, intuitive encounters. Scot MacDonald’s mastery of his instrument is clear, enabling him to explore the delicate, then in an instant, charge headlong into a circular breathing tempest, then spent, silenced. Crispell instinctively plays an apposite chord, a chord cluster, a single note into a listening silence (Longing and the title track Parallel Moments). The American’s avant credentials (Anthony Braxton) are to the fore on the title track and she is matched every step of the way by MacDonald (co-founder of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra). MacDonald’s sound – alto or soprano – is imbued with a blues feel (a rare commodity in the world of free jazz), perhaps more Chicago than Glasgow. Raymond MacDonald and Marilyn Crispell lead separate personal lives, perhaps parallel lives in their performance art and when they meet, in concert (their 2013 Newcastle performance was this reviewer’s gig of the year) or the recording studio something magical occurs. Parallel Moments is released on the Babel Label (BDV13125) on February 24.                                    
                       

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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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