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Bebop Spoken There

Claire Martin: "I used to dye my hair like Marilyn Monroe and bomb around in a Sunbeam Rapier ''- (Jazz Cassette Vol 1 No. 2).


Bob Sinfield: "'Bebop in Britain' [4 CD set] has two potential categories of customer; those who are old enough to remember, and those who aren't." - (Jazz Cassette Vol 1 No. 2).


Today Saturday October 22


Tees Valley Jazzmen - Devenport Hotel, Middleton One Row, Nr. Darlington. 1:30pm. Free.


Mark Williams (Solo guitar) - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. No cover charge.

Zoe Gilby/James Harrison - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Castle Garth, Newcastle NE1 1RQ. Free 0191 2331010.

At the Jazz Band Ball - The Exchange, 1 Howard St., North Shields, NE30 1SE. 0191 2584111. 7pm. £10. Rae Brothers New Orlean Jazz Band; No Time For Jive; Rendezvous Jazz.

The Regals - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8pm. £5.

Jam Session - Empty Shop, Framwellgate Bridge, Durham DH1 4SY. 8pm. Free.


CANCELLED! Students and 20s & 30s present ‘Jazz Night’ - Jazz Café 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. Free. CANCELLED!


To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Death Knell of Traditional Jazz?

The photographs on the front cover of this month's edition of the jazz magazine 'Just Jazz' speak volumes on the declining numbers of jazz musicians capable of or willing to play trad jazz.
Pic's of reed player, Vic Ash, and trumpeter, Pat Halcox, celebrating their 80th birthdays and Geoff Downs being carried in his coffin is a depressing reminder of a rapidly aging population of jazz musicians who, apart from a few exceptions, aren't being replaced by a younger generation. Clarinetist Ronny Robinson (RIP) of the Vieux Carre Jazzmen would often say, "There'll be no one to play this music in a few years time!"
Sadly, Ronny passed away, as did trumpet players, Clem Avery and Peter Gascoigne, along with many other stalwarts of the Tyneside trad scene. Will Ronny's prediction come about?
The fact is that there's an increasing demand for traditional jazz music - and from unexpected sources.
Over the past 18 months or so, the Vieux Carre Jazzmen and other bands have performed for various local authorities and town councils. Bistros and restaurants are boosting business by including 'Jazz' on the menu and even churches and chapels are tuning in to the appeal of jazz music for social events and fund raising.
Along with weddings, beer festivals, garden centre promos, corporate events and business fairs if we include regular weekly sessions at pubs and clubs in the area, suddenly the situation doesn't seem quite so grim. The gigs are out there. The problem is being able to do them all with a rapidly diminishing pool of musicians. Quite often, agreeing to do a gig will depend on the availability of 'deps' (take a bow Jim McBriarty and Mike Durham). There's a wealth of brilliant young musicians on Tyneside (Paul Gowland, Sue Ferris, et al) who, unfortunately for the trad scene, appear firmly rooted in other genres of the music. Can we postpone the demise of trad jazz on Tyneside? Another New Orleans traditional revival is unlikely, and no one's going to wave a magic wand. Maybe the solution lies in our own hands. All too often I hear of musicians plying their trade for a pint of beer and a packet crisps which does none of us any favours. Of course, we can't demand the 'union rate' from the manager of a struggling pub on Byker High Street, but we should insist on a reasonable fee for the gig - alternatively, just say NO! If the fee is decent, it's possible we may be able to draw in some of the younger musicians and music college students. If there's a choice between playing in the back room of a pub for nowt or earning £100 at a wedding party, we may be able to encourage some of those musicians who perceive traditional jazz as being old-hat.
Certainly the local jazz scene needs more musicians with the attitude of trombonist, Don Fairley, equally at home with the Voice of the North Orchestra or performing street theatre trad in South Shields Market Place. Brian Bennett,
The Vieux Carre Jazzmen
(I have moved this post forward as the points raised by Brian and Duncan are relevant to all forms of live music not just Trad and, as such, should be thought about. - Lance)


  1. Some vital issues raised there Brian. In an attempt to get a range of opinions I emailed a cross section of our local trad players and promoters for their comments. As of yet none have replied so perhaps the coffin is already being lowered...

  2. Hi Brian
    Maybe Trad jazz will die within a generation along with much folk music and dancing.
    Folk nearly died until the 60's revival and now the revivalists are dying.
    Having a foot in both camps as landlord of a pub and music enthusiast I see the problem from both sides.
    As a gigging drummer I am reluctant to turn out for less than the £100 you mention which is easily obtained from functions.
    The problem comes with the pub gig.
    To pay the whole band £100 I have to sell about 200 pints of beer.
    Then I have to pay the staff, the overheads, the taxman, the PRS etc etc etc.
    I persevered with a weekly music event for over 4 years. Sometimes it would attract 50 people to the small bar which would be packed but I still wouldnt sell 200 pints (about 3 casks)
    Sometimes I would sit with only 3 or 4 people and listen to first class music.
    It was economic madness but I enjoyed it.
    Times got harder and reluctantly I knocked the music nights on the head and now musicians who turn up to play do it for fun(for fun read free).
    I dont like this any more than you do.
    It is just too difficult to attract people away from TV and home entertainment together with cheap but good wine from Tesco.
    Times have moved on and in my opinion not for the better.
    There are not the gigs for the jobbing musician they have been obliterated by sound systems, DJ's,Sky TV and supermarkets.
    I wish there was a solution.
    Black Bull

  3. This also prompts the question as to the distribution of what little arts council/lottery funding there is available. Should it be spent on bringing prestigious names to the area or supporting local musicians at grass roots level?

  4. As a music lover and musician I can only sympathise with the situation which is being flagged up with regards to Jazz and other genres of music. Many are being deprived of seeing live music, while many don't want it. It's a hard thing to analyse properly.
    One point, though. Can the owner of a pub or club who pays, say three hundred pounds for a small band, not enter this amount as an expense to attract trade in the account books, and claim against it as such? As non-profit, surely
    the cost of entertainment would then be absorbed. Anyone who knows, could you please enlighten me.

  5. Young players should definitely take notice as we have proven there are many gigs available.
    From an agents point of view reliability is the absolute key and sometimes young musicians don't have the same commitment and drive. Hopefully we will be proved wrong at some stage in the future. Great article though.

    Sol Walker, Director
    Dusk 'til Dawn Entertainment Ltd


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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: I look forward to hearing from you.