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Bebop Spoken There

Buddy Rich: "You either swing a band or you don't swing a band - (Metronome April 1956).

Sinclair Traill: “Well I don't think he (Chet Baker) can sing either.” – (Jazz Journal August 1956).

Submissions for review

Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to them all other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
Similarly, CDs received by post will only be considered if accompanied by sufficient background material.
Finally, bear in mind that this is a jazz-based site when submitting your album.
Lance

Today Wednesday December 13

Afternoon

Vieux Carre Jazzmen - Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 3OS. 1pm. Free.

Brief Encounter - Vault, Hallgate, Hexham NE46 1XD. Tel: 01434 603884. 2:00pm. £7.50. advance. ‘’60’s Jazz’

Interim Recitals (Final Year Music Students) - Band Room, Music Studios, Assembly Lane, Newcastle University NE1 7RU. Inc. Harry Still (drums) 9:30am., Jimmy Jefford (saxophone) 11:15am. Free.

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Evening

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).

The Village Hall New Orleans Band - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Rd., Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:15pm. £3.

Darlington Big Band - Darlington & Simpson Rolling Mills Sports & Social Club, Longfield Road, Darlington DL3 0HX. Tel: 01325 380401. 8:00pm. Free.

Swing Street - Pier Red, 27 Castlegate, Berwick upon Tweed TD15 1LF. Tel: 01289 309168. 8:00pm. Free.

Improvisers' Workshop Ensemble - Great North Museum: Hancock, Barras Bridge, Newcastle NE2 4PT. 6-8pm. 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, November 26, 2017

John McLaughlin and the Fourth Dimension + the James Herring Band, play the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Vic Theatre, Chicago USA, November 18

John McLaughlin (guitars), Gary Husband (keyboards, drums), Etienne M'bappe (bass, vocals), Ranjit Barot (drums, vocals).
(Review by Steve T)
If you read any of the growing literature about John McLaughlin, the Mahavishnu Orchestra (MO) and Jazz/Rock/Fusion, there are three constants among those who saw the original band: that this was a musician of staggering intensity and virtuosity, that people thought it was all him - we'd heard electrified violins and moogs but never played like this - and that their lives were changed by the experience.
A friend of mine always said the classic rock bands I saw as a ten/eleven/twelve-year-old must have gone over my head, but I was familiar and comfortable with music by all of them, except the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I already knew the media and the charts weren't for me, but as I stared, open-mouthed in disbelief, anything became possible, as John might say, between nothingness and eternity.
This is to be his farewell tour of America, I suspect with his love of all things India, due to Trump's policy towards 'foreigners'. He's been tentatively dipping back into the MO back catalogue in recent years but this is the first time he's done it lock, stock and...
Jimmy Herring came on first with a busy drummer - you ain't gonna get far doing Billy Cobham and Narada Michael Walden if you're not, a funkin' bass player and a keyboard player mixing synths and piano with real Hammond and a close proximity Fender Rhodes.
I only definitely recognised one piece which I thought may have been Weather Report, but it's likely he opened with John McLaughlin from Bitches Brew though I haven't heard it for many years. They did fifty-five minutes and he never spoke. 
Quick change around and the Fourth Dimension occupied the other side of the stage. This set was more recognisably Mahavishnu, plus a tribute to Paco de Lucia, the only other constant in his guitar trios and the only other guitarist who may have been his equal, entitled El Hombre Que Sabia (the Man who Knew),  
Lila's Dance from Visions of the Emerald Beyond found Etienne playing a bass solo in place of the Jean Luc Ponty spacey violin original, and Johns own solo lacked the fire of the original. A slower piece I didn't recognise followed but doesn't necessarily mean slow playing from the man, demonstrating there's no conflict between speed and soul, a criticism he's faced ever since he dazzled the world with his dexterity when he launched the MO at the start of the seventies.
More Mahavishnu and keyboards and bass were out demonstrating the vitality of a brilliant guitar/drums partnership, and John has played with Tony Williams and Trilok Gurtu as well as Cobham and Walden.
Some Indian singing from Ranjit brought keyboardist Gary Husband to the Herring band drum kit for a percussion duel.
It all happened so quickly, like a flash of lightning, and both groups were on stage, Herring keyboardist now on violin, John with a twin-neck announced some music from the early seventies. A protracted intro to Meeting of the Spirits hit like a sonic boom catching the audience off-guard and launching a roller-coaster ride through the biggies from the original band and choice cuts from my favourite MO album, the afore-mentioned Vision of the Emerald Beyond, featuring Ponty, Walden, Ralph Armstrong and Gayle Moran, (then married to Chick Corea) plus strings and horns.
This included Eternity's Breath with Etienne and the violinist sharing the vocals and Ranjit handling them on Earth Ship, the one to point to when people accuse McLaughlin of lacking soul. 
The myth surrounding the MO largely focuses on the original band (McLaughlin, Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird) and this is the line-up some call the greatest band ever. But this is in no small part due to their impact live but the two albums by the next band are also remarkable, though anything since should be avoided.
Any doubts about the sense of travelling from the North East of England to Chicago dissipated in an instant. It went up a couple of notches from Herring to the Fourth Dimension, but this was the dawning of a new day and the world just may be ready to wake up. I've long thought that if the jazz establishment ever fully accepts Jazz-rock, John will be widely accepted as the most important Jazz artist since Trane. As we pleaded for an encore, one chap next to me kept shouting. 'Thank you John' and I don't think he meant just for the night.
I've no doubt people generally leave a Herring gig enthusing about what a fantastic guitarist he is, but on this tour, silence seems the best policy. It takes two guitarists to do John, even when he's one of them. I saw him a couple of years back and was amazed a man in his mid-seventies can still play like that, but tonight I agreed with Jeff Beck and Pat Metheny, that he's still the greatest living guitarist now.
It takes two world-class drummers to do Cobham and Walden but the bass players all but took turns. My only disappointment would be the exclusion of One Word, my personal favourite from the original band, which could have given scope for something with the two fine bass players; but I quibble.
Many times in my life I've experienced an adrenaline rush during a concert but this is only the second time (Maze in 82 the other) that it's lasted an entire set.
If he brings this to the UK, beg, borrow, steal, sell your granny to secure a ticket. 
Historic and life-changing all over again.
Steve T

1 comment :

Brian said...

Great review, Steve. Thank you.

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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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