Friday, 24 February 2017

Jazz in the North East this March

Trevor Watts and Veryan Weston, Bridge Hotel Newcastle Mar 5th 

From Russell Corbett

The first long weekend in March marks the return of the annual Great North Big Band Jazz Festival (Mar 3-5). For many years staged in Sunderland, this 2017 edition will take place in nearby Chester le Street. More than thirty big bands will converge on Park View Community Centre located just off Front Street.

Daniel John Martin returns to the region renewing acquaintance with Swing Manouche. The Paris-based violinist has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Mick Shoulder’s Hot Club-inspired outfit and a four-date mini tour is likely to attract full houses in County Durham, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. The dates for the diary – Jazz Café, Newcastle Mar 14th, Core Music, Hexham 15th, Empty Shop, Durham 16th, Traveller’s Rest, Darlington 17th. One week later – Mar 24 – Swing Manouche will be at Bishop Auckland Town Hall (minus Martin) to play a lunchtime café gig. An hors d’oeuvre to this feast of all things Manouche is an appearance at the Jazz Café by Emma Fisk’s superb Hot Club du Nord (Mar 3).

Leeds based guitarist Chris Sharkey gets into in ‘jazz guitar’ territory at two gigs on Mar 8th and Mar 22nd with Andy Champion (double bass) & Joost Hendrickx (drums) at the Jazz Cafe. Expect Stella By Starlight and Autumn Leaves rather than Trio VD and Shiver– no messing too much with those timeless tunes!

The Highlights Rural Touring scheme welcomes guitarist Pat McCarthy to the north east during the month. The McCarthy tour bus will be setting the Sat Nav for DH8 9NL and DL12 0TX on Mar 10th at Edmundbyers Village Hall and Mar 12th at Newbiggin in Teesdale. McCarthy’s four-piece band will return to the region in April. Jazz North East presents the veteran duo of Trevor Watts (reeds) and pianist Veryan Weston at Newcastle’s Bridge Hotel (Mar 5) in a double bill with bass clarinetist Chris Cundy. Later in the month (Mar 17) JNE co-promotes with Newcastle’s Jazz Café a Northern Line gig featuring Tom Riviere’s Family Band, and to see out the month (Mar 28), JNE’s Schmazz programming strand presents Jonathan Silk’s Fragment Quartet in the Jazz Café’s first floor space.

The Newcastle Jazz Co-op’s enterprising booking of the Blind Monk Trio deserves a good turn-out. Saturday 4th is the date – put it in the diary now. Across the Tyne at the Black Bull, Blaydon, Dean Stockdale will be playing Oscar Peterson, standards and originals on Mar 19th. Stockdale’s fellow pianist Dougie Pugh will be playing familiar standards at Darlington Jazz Club’s bi-monthly concert on Sunday 26. It’s a six o’clock start in the Quakerhouse, so don’t be caught out!

Stockton’s Georgian Theatre, hidden away in Green Dragon Yard, presents a rare jazz gig on Mar 17. If the dynamic James Taylor Quartet doesn’t draw a crowd, nothing will. One event guaranteed to attract a full house is ‘Swing, Strings and Sir Tom’ at the Gala Theatre on Mar 10. Quite what the evening will offer is another matter as this concert is a meeting of the Durham University Big Band, the string section of Durham University Orchestral Society and operatic baritone Sir Thomas Allen! 

Two lunchtime concerts in Newcastle will do good business. At King’s Hall, Newcastle University, a three line whip ensures diffident music students get out of bed in time to attend a regular series of free admission, on campus, concerts. On March 23rd at ten minutes past one (Wakey, Wakey!) the trio of Faye MacCalman (reeds), John Pope (bass) and drummer Christian Alderson – collectively Archipelago – will perform a selection of free jazz/composed pieces. On the last day of the month the trio Triptych will perform at the Lit and Phil (one o’clock). Pianist Paul Edis, bassist Paul Susans and drummer Rob Walker will be performing a set of original material.

Finally, this year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival is almost upon us. The three-day festival at Sage Gateshead (March 31-April 2) has much to offer. More on this next month, suffice to say, the opening evening (Friday 31) includes Clare Teal with Guy Barker leading an all star big band, Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur, Daniel Herskedal and Binker and Moses. A photographic exhibition looking at the career of Misha Mengelberg will run at Sage Gateshead from March 13 to April 14.      

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