Thursday, 22 April 2010

Three Takes on Jazz

Little Dragon, Jose James and Soil & Pimp Sessions (2010)

Heard:  Little Dragon, Jose James, Soil and Pimp Sessions

Where:  Relentless Garage, Jazz Cafe, Relentless garage

When:4th March, 18th March and 6th April

During the last month I've had the fortune to enjoy three great live shows each with their own take on Jazz.  

Let me start with the first and the most unexpectedly good, Sweden's "Little Dragon".  I ended up booking tickets to see them back in March this year and also for Soil & Pimp Sessions when I saw that Jose James was doing a live show in London and thought it would be fun and interesting to see how they worked as a live band.  The show was a lot of fun and the band have an interesting dynamic.  The energy of their little singer with her big voice and personality shine out on stage; running, dancing, jumping etc. she is a stark contrast to her trendy, beardy band mates hiding behind their instruments.  The music itself is well crafted pop but with the underlying jazz influence and lots of electronics that drifts me off in to a hypnotic trance.  Hmm... I really should go and buy their last album now, I want more than just the memories.

On to Jose James a few weeks later, this time at the Jazz Cafe.  The nice thing about the Jazz Cafe is that it's a nice small venue so you can get a great view and nice and close to the action.  So close that the support act was stood right in front of us!  Jose James has a classic sounding southern bluesy voice and has taken a really great band on the road with him.  There was lots of banter between the musicians and I left with a smile on my face.  The whole show was a bit of a ronseal effect though, it did exactly what it said on the tin, not a bad thing, it just it felt a little underwhelming, whereas with Little Dragon and Soil and Pimp shows they were more then just a sum of their parts.  Perhaps this was more down to the fact he seemed to have a very well drilled show in quite a different environment.  If I go to the Jazz Cafe again I might try the upstairs thing and get dinner as well.

Saving the best till last was Soil & Pimp Sessions out of Japan.  What a show!  Big entrance, mad clothes, bigger hair.  They may look like a bunch of wannabe "hip-hop" gangsters but these guys can play with some crazy energy.  The band are made up of trumpeter, double bass player, percussionist, keys, a sax player and a shouty big pimp-a-like!  Starting with their trade mark high energy death jazz and willing us into a frenzy it was tiring just to watch the guys in action, despite the image they are fantastic musicians who play great and upbeat jazz music.  The show was not all one paced hyperactive jazz either, they go a little disco and also a little more loungey when the sax and trumpeter are taking a break. I have been hammering the CD since and I hope very much they come back to London sometime soon for me to catch them again.

There we have it, Electronic Jazz Pop, good old fashioned Jazz and Blues and 21st Century Death Jazz.