Tag Archives: Whitley Bay Jazz Festival

TENORS OF THE TIMES (Part One): June 27, 2010

The EarRegulars were an all-reed edition (no brass need apply for that one Sunday) last week, June 27, 2010: Greg Cohen, bass; James Chirillo, guitar; Harry Allen and Scott Robinson, tenor saxophones.  There were no JATP antics that night; rather, the four musical lines reminded me greatly of beautiful vines, creating a tapestry of lovely sounds and responses. 

Here are three selections from the first set.

One is a haunting TOO LATE NOW, which could never be with these players:

Then, a song much beloved of Kenny Davern and Benny Goodman, Isham Jones’ ON THE ALAMO:

Finally, STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY (in two parts):

And its conclusion:

There’s more to post from this particular evening, including uplifting visits from violinist Valerie Levy and tenorist Eric Schwam.  Then, two glorious nights with Michael Kanan, Joel Press, Neal Miner, Pat O’Leary, Joe Hunt, and Ted Brown – – but such pleasures will have to wait — I’m off to the 2010 International Whitley Bay Jazz Festival, where I don’t expect to do much more than listen to music, chat, grab a hurried meal or two, and sleep.  Oh . . . and videotape, of course! 

To be continued . . .

O RARE BENT PERSSON (and FRIENDS)!

Last night — Thursday, July 9, 2009 —  I witnessed the kind of jazz creativity and bravery that at times left me with tears in my eyes. 

The occasion was a concert organized by the Swedish trumpeter / cornetist / Louis Armstrong scholar Bent Persson, one of my heroes, in tribute to his hero Louis: “YOUNG LOUIS,” which — in two hour-long sets — demonstrated much about Louis’s first six years of recordings as well as the majesty of players now alive. 

The band was a stellar international crew: Mike Durham, tpt, joining Bent at the start and finish, as well as being a most adept and witty master of ceremonies; the gruff trombonist Paul Munnery; the brilliant reedman (clarinet and alto this time) Matthias Seuffert; the nimble pianist Martin Litton; the remarkable plectrist (banjos and guitar) Jacob Ullberger; the very fine brass bassist Phil Rutherford; the frankly astonishing percussionist Nick Ward.  The concert took place at the very modern Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, UK — lovely acoustics and a sound engineer at the back who was truly paying attention!  I attempted to videotape the whole thing (being a man of daring but not much discretion) but was stopped by an usher who whispered ferociously that there was NO photography of any kind allowed and I would have to leave if I continued . . . so I stopped.  But I did capture the band’s second song, a stately rock through King Joe Oliver’s WHERE DID YOU STAY LAST NIGHT? — much as it might have sounded in Chicago, 1922-23.  My video doesn’t capture everything — but you can see the graceful arcs of Nick Ward’s arms behind his drum set: I had a hard time taking my eyes off of him.   

Lovely as it is, that performance can’t summon up all of what I found so moving in this concert.  It wasn’t a pure repertory performance, where musicians strive to reproduce old records “live”; no, what was fascinating was the fervent interplay between the Past and Now, between the Great Figures and the living players onstage.  Everyone in this band knew the original records, but they were encouraged to dance back and forth between honoring the past by playing it note-for-note and by going for themselves.  Thus, Bent created solos that sounded like ones Louis might have — should have! — recorded, and his bravery and risk-taking were more than heartening.  I have never seen him in person, and he would give the most timid of us courage to learn the craft, to shut our eyes, and to make something new.  His playing on POTATO HEAD BLUES was immensely moving — watching him dare the Fates and declare his love for Louis in front of our eyes.  Bent also sang in several performances — mostly scatting, but once or twice delivering the lyrics in a sweetly earnest way — another example of an artist going beyond the amazing things we’ve already come to expect.  It was also delightful to watch the musicians grin broadly at each other as the beautiful solos and ensemble work unfolded.   

The concert moved briskly from Louis’s sojourn with Oliver to his work with Clarence Williams small groups, his own Hot Five and Seven, an evocation of Jimmy Bertrand’s Washboard Wizards, Louis’s duet with Earl Hines, his Hot Choruses (as reimagined by Bent over a thirty-year period), with more than a few surprises.  One of them — gloriously — was the appearance of bass saxophone titan Frans Sjostrom for a version of BEAU KOO JACK by the trio called, so correctly, the Hot Jazz Trio (their one CD is under that name on the Kenneth label): Bent, Jacob, and Frans.  Wonderful both in itself and as a reinvention of that brightly ornate recording.  Sjostrom stayed around for the final ensemble celebration on HIGH SOCIETY, which brought tears to my eyes.   

I am posting this on Friday morning, hours before the Whitley Bay extravaganza — some 130 bands playing in rotation for three days in four simultaneous locations — is scheduled to begin.  There’ll be more magnificent, moving jazz, I am sure!  It promises to be both uplifting and overwhelming.  (And, as an extra delight, I am joined here by two of my three Official British Cousins — Bob Cox and John Whitehorn — men of great humor, generosity, and sensibility — whom I first met at Westoverledingen, Germany, in 2007, when we were rapt attendees at another Manfred Selchow jazz festival.  Always nice to have friends nearby!)

A postscript: at the concert, copies of an otherwise unknown compact disc were for sale — a recording of a similar YOUNG LOUIS concert from 2002, with many of the same players.  I snapped up one copy (paying for it, of course) and by the end of the concert, the CDs were all gone.  Let us hope that Bent and Co. choose to reissue that one and other versions.  I’m going to treasure it, as well as my memories of the concert I experienced.

TODAY’S SERMON (in under a minute)

carpe-diemAt work, I am surrounded by people who have made their job their life.  Devotion to one’s work is noble, but some of my friends have made themselves ill from stress.  So the gospel for today is the Latin motto.  To me, seizing the day isn’t about abandoning one’s responsibilities for self-absorption, but it does mean paying attention to the self.  While we’re young, as Alec Wilder wrote.

For me, carpe diem translates into making plans to go to the Whitley Bay Jazz Festival; for the Beloved, it means walking around the reservoir in Central Park.  And you?

Note:  the image comes from https://shopstampafe.com/home.php?cat=270…

WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS JULY 9-12?

 I’ve read about this festival . . . but always after it’s ended.  I want to go to Whitley Bay!  (That’s a sentence I haven’t said before, but when the words came out of my mouth yesterday, they felt like the truth.)  Details below!  More details at www.whitleybayjazzfest.org.

 

 

 

 WHITLEY BAY INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL 2009
Friday 10th – Sunday 12th JulyThe nineteenth annual Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival will feature as always the very best in classic jazz, from Ragtime to Swing. This year we feature no less than twenty-nine hot bands made up of more than 140 musicians from nine different countries – see list on right. And we are again at our new and very welcoming venue, the Village Hotel & Leisure Centre, Cobalt Park – see Booking Details page.

If you’ve been before, you’ll know what to expect. If not, here are some of the nice (unsolicited!) things people have said about the Festival:

“As we Yanks say, it was a smasheroo! – the new venue worked out fine, despite packed rooms. I’m so glad I made the trip; the best jazz festival in Great Britain!” – Kathy Lewis, Chicago

“I think sincerely it’s the best festival in Europe for organisation, standard of musicians and general atmosphere (spontaneous jam sessions)” – Henry Lemaire, MaMa & the Kids, Switzerland

“Four days of pure inspiration, and I wouldn’t have missed one second of it – congratulations, a triumph!” – Frank van Nus, bandleader & arranger, Twente, Holland

“The UK’s pre-eminent classic jazz festival” – Jazz Review Magazine, Edinburgh, Scotland

“Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival – the classic jazz fan’s Mecca!” – Trygve Hernæs, producer, Herman Records, Norway

“Thanks for the Festival, it knocks every other one into a cocked hat – sheer unadulterated quality!” – David Kimmins, a happy punter!

“As usual, I have only one complaint – there were too many good bands, so I couldn’t listen to them all: if I could only attend one jazz festival a year, Whitley Bay would be it” – Norrie Thompson, Edinburgh

“As a musician, I spent three marvellous days because your festival is the BEST in Europe: it’s a huge pleasure to perform there, and it takes me a week or two to come down off my little cloud!” – Stéphane Gillot, Red Hot Reedwarmers, France

“A vintage year for an exceptional jazz festival – certainly the best in the world for the music we love: bravo!” – Michel Bastide, Hot Antic Jazz Band, France

“I don’t know how you do it, but it gets better every year! We’ll be there again next year, as will the four friends we brought along this time” – Laurie Wright, discographer and jazz author, Storyville Magazine

“Probably the best Festival of its kind in the world – if I could only go to one, this would be it” – Bob Erdos, owner, Stomp Off Records, USA

“The best classic jazz festival in the world, and I have played at most of them” – Bent Persson (trumpet), Stockholm, Sweden

“This is the best jazz festival I’ve attended since the New Orleans and Ascona festivals of the 1980’s – and they take some beating” – Mike Hazeldine, New Orleans Music

“Whitley Bay is an exceptionally fine event – despite increasing airline costs and declining dollars, we intend to return next year” – Andy & Kathy Wittenborn, The Mississippi Rag, USA

 

 

 

Complete Band list:

  • The Charleston Chasers (UK’s premier 1920’s hot dance outfit)
  • Chicago Stompers (Italy – hot young ten-piece orchestra )
  • Swiss Yerba Buena Jazzband (Switzerland, with Jean-François Bonnel and René Hagmann)
  • Ten Doctors of Syncopation (Sweden – Henderson and more)
  • Hot Five Jazzmakers (canada – joyous sounds of New Orleans)
  • Matthias Seuffert’s South Side Special (Germany/UK Dodds tribute)
  • Bent Persson & his Orchestra (international, 1930’s Armstrong)
  • les Red Hot Reedwarmers (France – back to the Apex Club!)
  • Michael McQuaid’s Late-hour Boys (Australia and the world!)
  • The Hot Jazz Trio (Sweden’s masters of the real classic stuff)
  • Ken Mathieson’s Classic Jazz Orchestra (Scotland’s finest)
  • Spats Langham & his Rhythm Boys (“with vocal refrain”)
  • New Century Ragtime Orchestra (Tyneside – ragtime to hot dance)
  • Wheatley’s Arcadians (string-band music extraordinaire)
  • The Three Tenors (saxes, that is – France/Germany/UK)
  • Four on the Frets (the finest in jazz guitar)
  • Debbie Arthurs’ Sweet Rhythm (sweet & hot, actually!)
  • Keith Stephen’s Hot Club Trio with Caroline Irwin
  • The 1955 band (saluting Chris Barber & Ken Colyer) The
  • Three Pods of Pepper (hot, hot, hot!) Clarinet Crescendo (international reed extravaganza)
  • Norman Field’s Happy Harmonists (Brum & points west)
  • Sjöström’s Tap Room Gang (Adrian Rollini rules, ok?)
  • Paul Munnery’s Kansas City Jazz (from Moten to modern)
  • Swing City Trio with Steve Andrews (Cumbria)
  • River City Jazzmen (the band which discovered Sting!)
  • Rae Brothers New Orleans Jazzband (Gatesheed)
  • West Jesmond Rhythm Kings (West Jesmond, where else?)
  • International Banjorama! (international)

SPECIAL EXTRA EVENT FOR 2009!

THE SAGE GATESHEAD presents
“YOUNG LOUIS”
in association with Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival

The first five years of Louis Armstrong’s brilliant recording career
recreated by Bent Persson and a hand-picked band of International stars

Hall Two, Thursday 9th July at 8.00pm: see separate page for details

 “I’d like to say how much I enjoyed Whitley Bay this year. There was some amazing music to listen to and some lovely things to play. Congratulations!” – James Evans, sax and clarinet

“Possibly the biggest and most prestigious celebration of classic jazz anywhere in Europe” – Paul Bream, Jazz Alert

“Nice bands, nice people, perfect organisation – one of the best experiences of our musical life” – Jean Amy, leader, Steamboat Band, France

“A jazz festival for connoisseurs” – Chris Yates, Jazz North East