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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 Friday August 18

Afternoon
Rendezvous Jazz - The Black Horse, Front St., Monkseaton, Whitley Bay NE25 8DP. 1pm. Free.
Levee Ramblers New Orleans Quartet - Tynemouth Metro Station, Station Tce., Tynemouth NE30 4RE. 1pm. Free.
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Evening
Kentucky Cowtippers - Billy Bootleggers, 28 Nelson St., Newcastle NE1 5AN. 9pm. Free.
Ray Johnson & Richard Herdman - Prohibition Bar, Arch 3, Brandling St., Gateshead NE8 2BA. 8pm.
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Steve Bone - Al Forno, 81 Skinnergate, Darlington DL3 7LX. 7pm.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

CD Review: Tommy Smith Quartet - Embodying the Light

Tommy Smith (tenor); Pete Johnstone (piano); Calum Gourlay (bass); Sebastiaan de Krom (drums).
(Review by Lance).
I'd become so used to thinking of Tommy Smith and the SNJO as being joined at the hip, and I use the word advisedly, that I'd almost forgotten what a formidable player he was in a small group setting. This tribute to John Coltrane puts the record straight.
He is to Scottish Jazz what Robbie Burns was to Scottish Poetry. With Smith, the best laid schemes of mice and jazzmen don't gang aft agley. In fact, on this disc, they don't gang agley at all. Over the 50 years since 'Trane ascended he's had many disciples but few, if any, have absorbed the complete canon as well as Scotland's own Trane. From the barnstorming Prestige/Blue Note period to the spiritual searching of the Atlantic/Impulse years Smith has it nailed. Not in a cloning manner but in a very personal way.

The opener, Transformation, a Smith original, sets the stall out with a Giant Steps-like blast that lasts forever and yet still didn't seem long enough!
Coltrane's Dear Lord is shorter. A hymn that, in the eye of an unbeliever, would be classed as a ballad. Believer or infidel, it's still 3 minutes of beauty.
Embodying the Light, another Smith original, has a familiar sequence that features Gourlay and Johnstone before Smith's grand entrance. He's like a bull in a china shop with the difference being that the porcelain remains unbroken, maybe enhanced!
Naima, one of Trane's 'signature dishes' is given 'signature' treatment by Smith. Amazingly Tommy was born on the day that 'Trane died and this was recorded 50 years later on the very same day. Who says there aren't mystical forces that guide our destiny?
Resolution's full of eastern promise. Johnstone resists the call to board the next flight to Mumbai and instead, heads off to JFK where, upon landing, takes a cab down to the Village Vanguard. Smith joins him - they take the scenic route.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost from the 1966 Meditations album wasn't intended to be a disco hit and it wasn't. Not even at the church social. However, in Jazz Heaven, I'm sure both JC's have given TS their blessing - it's quite incredible.
Summertime - when in doubt, play Summertime; just don't sing it. Tommy doesn't sing it but he does swing it as do his clansmen.
Embodying the Darkness, Smith's sequel to the title track touches on 'Trane's Sheets of Sound or, as one unbeliever used to say to me, Sounds of Sheet. de Krom shines a light on the darkness that avoids you stepping in the...
Transition another tour de force from Smith, more power piano from Johnstone (also a member of award winning band Square One who impressed listeners at both the Ushaw Festival and at a JNE gig at the Bridge Hotel last year) rounds off a truly great album.
I deliberately didn't listen to the Coltrane versions, Naima was the only one I knew, I didn't want any preconceived ideas and, whatever, this album stands on its own 8 feet.
Highly recommended.
Lance.

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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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