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Bebop Spoken There

Jim Hall: "Won't play loud, can't play fast" - (From one of the great guitarist's business cards brought to our attention by Roly Veitch).

Joel Harrison: “It’s incredibly hard to play bebop on guitar, harder than on saxophone.” – (Jazz Times August 2015)

Today Wednesday June 28

Afternoon.
Vieux Carre Jazzmen - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.
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Evening.
Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. £1. 8pm.
Chris Sharkey Trio - Jazz Café. 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. £5/Students free - voluntary donation.
Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:30pm. £3.00.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Monday, May 22, 2017

London Vocal Project - Jon Hendricks’s Miles Ahead (Kings Place, London N1), Sunday May 21

(Review/Photo by Peter Jones)
The room was swarming with family, friends and admirers, but most of all, singers on Sunday night in the acoustically perfect Hall 1 at London’s Kings Place. Yes, there were more singers than you could shake a tuning fork at. And it seemed as if they all personally knew choirmaster extraordinaire Pete Churchill and his wife Nikki Iles, or had at the very least participated in a vocal workshop at some time with the dynamic, charismatic Churchill. It was, in short, a musical love-fest.
The pianist, composer and arranger has been immersed for seven years in rendering the Gil Evans/Miles Davis Miles Ahead album into vocalese, and performing it with the 23-strong London Vocal Project. In order to achieve this Churchill has crossed the Atlantic a number of times to collaborate with the legend that is Jon Hendricks, helping to add the great man’s lyrics to the themes and solos on that epoch-busting album. Way back in 1957, Hendricks, Dave Lambert and Annie Ross prepared the ground with their Sing a Song of Basie album, an early exercise in multi-tracking, on which all Basie’s instrumental parts were sung rather than played.
It’s not easy getting humans to sing like trumpets or alto saxophones. And never mind that the chords are rich - and sometimes richly crunchy. You find yourself holding your breath just listening to it, wondering how anyone could sing that low, or that high, let alone making it sound as good as this.
Not surprisingly, Hendricks wanted it done right. ‘Each singer,’ he stated in an email written in 2010, ‘must have a copy of this album, to which they should listen first thing each morning and the last thing each night until the performance. No other way will they be able to keep pace with the endless subtleties and nuances the work is fraught with.’

It helped that they had Hendricks’s daughter Michele as one of the soloists, along with New York veteran Kevin Fitzgerald Burke and also a woman introduced by Churchill as a ‘national treasure’ – Norma Winstone.

Before the main event they limbered up with some other tunes with Hendricks lyrics: It’s Sand, Man, followed by Summertime; then I’ll Bet You Thought I’d Never Find You, introduced by Burke as the first song to be written about stalking. His vocal solo was fabulously trumpet-like. Then Hi-Fly (sung by Winstone); Ev’rybody’s Boppin’ (sung by Michele Hendricks, with an amazing high-velocity scat solo); and finishing off with Li’l Darlin’ and O Pato.

But it was the album that everyone had come to hear, and the Project did not disappoint. As everyone who has heard it knows, Miles Ahead is a sweet and lyrical listen, but tunes like My Ship or Lament reveal new harmonic beauties when sung by a choir of this calibre. It was a highly emotional occasion for Churchill, particularly as he told the story of Blues for Pablo, whose lyrics Jon Hendricks had to change when he learned from composer Gil Evans that it was about the Spanish Civil War, and not what he’d thought it was about.

Hendricks has been working on this project since the late Sixties, and was finally rewarded last February in New York when he witnessed this ensemble perform it for the first time. Tonight they were sensitively backed by Dave Whitford on bass and Steve Brown on drums.
Peter Jones

3 comments :

  1. This got me back to listening to Miles Ahead again. Reminding me, as if I need to be reminded, what a wonderful arranger/composer was Gil Evans. Listen to his arrangements for Claude Thornhill and how far advanced they were of the other swing bands of the time. This vocal project, however, needs to be heard far and wide - are you listening Sage Gateshead?

    ReplyDelete
  2. It was sublime. And you missed something special if you weren't there. Make sure you buy the album when it comes out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Elaine Crighton (on F/b).Tuesday, May 23, 2017 8:42:00 am

    It was one of the best things I've ever seen. Totally joyful and goosebumpy throughout!

    ReplyDelete

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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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