Monday, 1 February 2016

Jazz previews in the North East

Swing Manouche tour with Daniel John Martin (various venues)

A varied selection of music (and some new venues) from Russell Corbett this month..

February’s gigs in the north east cover much ground geographically and stylistically. The Northumberland market town of Bedlington welcomes local Dixielanders, Tynesiders are in the enviable position of having to make tough choices throughout the month, and those in the Deep South – County Durham and Cleveland – have much to look forward to.

The Maine Street Jazzmen sustain three residencies across Tyneside but are not averse to venturing further afield. Bedlington doesn’t get to hear much jazz so the promise of some Beale Street Blues on Front Street at the local Community Centre (Feb 17) should see the place full to capacity. A similar ‘house full’ scenario is assured in Hexham. Queen’s Hall Arts Centre continues to support jazz and a visit by Mick Shoulder’s Swing Manouche in the company of Paris-based violinist Daniel John Martin (Feb 12) will have Tyne Valley residents booking well in advance.

Polar opposite genres stake their claim in Gateshead. A New Century Ragtime Orchestra concert in Caedmon Hall (Feb 6) will sell out (it’s an annual sell out event) and down the road at Sage Gateshead (Feb 18) GoGo Penguin present their new century alternative.

Highlights at Newcastle Jazz Co-op’s Globe public house venue include a double helping of the Strictly Smokin’ Big band with an afternoon workshop and evening concert on Feb 21 and at the end of the month (Feb 28) the veteran Mississippi Dreamboats are guests at the ‘vintage jazz’ night. The Jazz Café is the first port of call for a three-date mini tour by Swing Manouche with Daniel John Martin (Feb 9), Not Now Charlie’s performance is to be recorded (Feb 12) in a double bill with Saxophonics, and following an excellent debut last year, Teessiders Noel Dennis (trumpet & flugelhorn) and Dean Stockdale (piano) are to do it all again on Feb 20. Guitarists will want to be on Pink Lane on Feb 23 to hear the duo of Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier, and Paul Baxter’s Horace Silver-inspired project – Seven Pieces of Silver – features the ubiquitous Alan Barnes (Feb 19).

The adjoining Black Swan venue in the bowels of Newcastle Arts Centre will provide the appropriate improv sounds following an opening reception for Gina Southgate’s Woman Paints Music exhibition in the upstairs gallery space (Feb 4). All are welcome to attend at six o’clock to meet Gina, and, should they so choose, pay on the door for the gig at eight o’clock featuring Entropi and the duo of Shelly Knotts and Miriam Rezaei. The Jazz North East celebratory 50th year continues at the Bridge Hotel (Feb 7) with George Burt, Andy Champion and Corey Mwamba. Anyone with an interest in improvisation should resolve to be there on the night as Mr Burt’s musical vocabulary is quite something! In contrast, master guitarist Dr James Birkett teams up with old friend George MacDonald (clarinet) and bassist Tony Abell at the Lit & Phil (Feb 26, lunchtime) to play the Great American Songbook. They call themselves the Virtuoso Jazz Trio and they are virtuosi. They will leave the Lit & Phil’s audience calling for an encore, then head down to Ushaw College, Durham to fulfill an evening engagement.

Durham’s other jazz venues continue to defy these austerity times; the Gala presents the Graeme Wilson Quartet (Feb 12, lunchtime) and the enterprising Empty Shop goes from strength to strength with two February gigs. First up on Feb 18 is Redemption followed by Robocobra from Belfast (Feb 24). The latter quartet comes to the region with coveted radio airplay enhancing their profile and anyone sufficiently impressed on Framwellgate Bridge (Empty Shop’s enviable location in the shadow of Durham Cathedral) can catch the band the next night for free at Hoochie Coochie in Newcastle.

Bishop Auckland Town Hall is the third of three venues on Swing Manouche’s short tour with Daniel John Martin (Feb 10). A good turn out could encourage the venue to develop a regular jazz programme. In nearby Darlington there is no shortage of jazz. Darlington Jazz Club meets twice during the month at the Quakerhouse pub in Mechanics’ Yard. It’s something of a homecoming for drummer Abbie Finn (Feb 14) as she brings in her Leeds College of Music quartet, similarly pianist Rick Laughlin returns with Infusion (Feb 28). The other Darlington jazz club – the New Orleans Jazz Club – meets at St Augustine’s on Larchfield Street (Feb 6, lunchtime) to listen to the Savannah Jazz Band and at Opus 4 Jazz Club (yes, another Darlington jazz club!) on Friday 19 David Newton and local lad Dean Stockdale (currently residing in Manchester) meet up once more to play jazz piano. That’s two pianists, two pianos, one full house at the Traveller’s Rest.

To conclude this month’s roundup, Charlie Parker disciple Mark Toomey (alto) preaches the Gospel of Bird at St Peter’s Church on Yarm Road, Stockton on Tees (4) and Lindsay Hannon visits Saltburn Jazz Club on Feb 5.              


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