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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Beats and Pieces and Kairos 4tet at Ronnie Scott's at BRIT JAZZ FEST

It seems the big festival fever is over, with smaller, more specialised events cropping up all over the place, presenting every kind of cultural activity. Musically the capital is buzzing at the moment with the BBC Proms underway, and many musicians from far and wide coming to showcase their talents to the London audiences. A highlight of these summer events is the Ronnie Scott’s Brit Jazz Fest 2011, a mini festival with a thrilling programme of talented and renowned jazz soloists and bands and celebrates the very best of British Jazz.

Ronnie Scott’s venue needs no recommendation as I’m sure most will already know this haunt to be one of the most significant and unique places to listen to Jazz in London. Interestingly when the club first opened in 1959 Ronnie Scott and Pete King were only permitted to book British artists due to a strict MU Ruling. This mini festival pays tribute to that time presenting a diverse selection of exceptional artists covering all aspects of jazz.

Now in its third year this year’s festival looks set to be as oversubscribed as ever, but a few tickets do remain. I was lucky enough to have a ticket to a show last week featuring a double bill: BEATS AND PIECES + KAIROS 4TET. Based in Manchester, Beats and Pieces are a 14 strong contemporary jazz ensemble led by Ben Cottrall. Indeed a few members even attended University with me so I felt very proud to be supporting them in this prestigious venue. The immense sound that these fourteen musicians make was overwhelming in the intimate Ronnie Scott’s venue - you couldn’t help but feel totally engrossing in the music. It is clear too that these guys love what they do, all dancing along with their heads and showing 100% passion and commitment to the music. Individually they are supreme soloists, with some staggering solos from trumpeter Nick Walters and some genius twists and turns on the piano from Patrick Hurley. Featuring some of their own work, and a few adventurous covers, I found their set very easy to listen to and stimulating, which I can’t always say with contemporary jazz.

Playing opposite Beats and Pieces was the Kairos 4tet, a contemporary music quartet comprising of leader saxophonist, Adam Waldman, pianist Ivo Neame, bassist Jasper Høiby and drummer Jon Scott plus a very special guest, London-based, Swedish singer Emilia Martensson. Kairos 4tet who produce inspiring melodic, rhythmically compelling modern jazz. Again made up of technically brilliant soloists, I was particularly impressed by Høiby on bass, I have often heard of this mesmerizing playing so was glad to be finally experiencing it first hand. The singer du jour, Martensson did a wonderful job responding sensitively to the band and sung with a spine tingling tone and melodic awareness. The music of Kairos 4tet was rather more specialist, and felt, at times, a little beyond my knowledge and understanding of this kind of jazz. The rest of the audience seemed totally in tune with the genre clapping in all the right places, and nodding their heads in appreciation.

Ronnie Scott’s is one of my very favourite venues in London, with delicious (but very expensive) cocktails, a relaxed charming ambience and consistently brilliantly performers, I would highly recommend booking to go to see something in their ever simulating and exciting programme. Book here.

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