Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Russell Corbett previews the May North East jazz scene

Mark Lewandowski's Waller project May 11

Two festivals, a fundraiser, boogie-woogie piano and Fats Waller. These just some of many gigs and events throughout the north east region during May.

Harambee Pasadia is County Durham’s annual Afro Fusion Music and Dance Festival staged over four days at the end of the month. The Hub in Barnard Castle comes alive with music, dance, DJs, workshops and food! This year’s line up includes Seckou Keita, a cappella quintet Black Voices, Hannabiell and Midnight Blue, Kema Kay, and the Backyard Rhythm Orchestra. The dates – with on-site camping available – are May 26-29.

Billie meets Kurt at this year’s Hexham Book Festival. The Northumberland market town is quickly establishing itself in literary circles and a performance by Gabriele Heller and Steve Glendinning – free, but ticketed – in Queen’s Hall’s White Room offers a musical diversion. Billie Holiday to Kurt Weill…an early evening (May 5) decadent cabaret courtesy of vocalist Gabi and guitarist Steve.

Sage Gateshead music students have seized the opportunity to perform at Newcastle’s Jazz Café on a regular basis. BA and BMus students are taking the lead, organising the night and a paying audience is turning up to check out what’s happening. The next gig – May 11 – is a fundraiser for the DEC Appeal East Africa. Your support would be appreciated.

Jazz and blues pianist Dom Pipkin will be at the Forum on Borough Road in Darlington on May 11 and on the same evening Fats Waller will be at the Jazz Co-op’s Globe public house in Newcastle. Not the man himself, of course, rather bassist Mark Lewandowski with his Waller inspired project. The participation of Liam Noble and Paul Clarvis suggests this could be something special.

Gerry R and the E Types pull up at Hoochie Coochie to play a set of Booker T and the MGs tunes, the date, once more, May 11. It’s one of those nights, make a choice, wherever you go it’s sure to be good!

May 7 sees Led Bib stop off at the Bridge Hotel, Newcastle on their Umbrella Weather album tour. The following evening at the Boiler Shop (behind Newcastle Central Station) the Hot 8 Brass Band will be working up a head of steam to an adoring crowd. Joy Ellis makes her north east debut at the Jazz Café (May 12) and down the road in Darlington reeds virtuoso Sue Ferris gigs at Opus 4 Jazz Club (Traveller’s Rest). Northumbria University students have secured a gig at this year’s Jesmond Community Festival. The band – Philonious Funk – will be nestled between the book stacks in the local library on St George’s Terrace (May 12).

The hugely popular Snarky Puppy make a return visit to Sage Gateshead (May 3). This time round the Texas-New York collective will be playing Sage One, Sage Gateshead’s premier hall – such is the popularity of Michael League’s band. Also at the Gateshead venue, with less hype, there is the welcome booking of Partisans (May 15) featuring Phil Robson, Julian Siegel, Thadeus Kelly and a USA exile, drummer Gene Calderazzo. A quality quartet, a highlight of many during a busy month.
There are many more gigs during the month – Johnny Hunter Quartet, Jazz Café, May 19, a guitar duo par excellence at the Gala Theatre, Durham, May 26 featuring Mark Williams and Joel Byrne-McCullough, American ex-pat trumpeter Pete Tanton, the Globe, May 6 – do make the effort.              


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