‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’ and more from Bammi Rose and Adrian Reid
Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra saxophonist/flautist, a founder member of legendary 1970s street funk Afrojazz pioneers Cymande Mike “Bammi” Rose, joined by Cymande pianist Adrian Reid on Nord keyboards continued their regular residency in the congenial and relaxed surroundings of the House of Tippler on London’s Lordship Lane in East Dulwich as World Cup fever began to grip the capital.
Performing after the Portugal v Spain game (a Portuguese supporter at the bar who had watched the match on television compared Ronaldo understandably to Eusébio) Bammi, you might remember hearing him for instance on Charlie Parker’s ‘Barbados’ from Jazz Jamaica’s excellent 1990s album Skaravan got into his stride when he switched from flute to tenor as the pair performed with a backing rhythm that introduced a light Caribbean twist on such early set numbers as Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ and Billy Taylor’s joyous ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’ and then with more of a carnival feel the classic ‘St Thomas’ synonymous with Sonny Rollins. Reid’s own album Nyanza Street I enjoyed a few years ago and it was somehow fitting even if completely by chance to hear the pianist south of the river. Photo + text: marlbank. Mike Bammi Rose above left and Adrian Reid at the House of Tippler.
On a Friday
Unveiled for the first time live in front of a receptive crowd at 229 The Venue last weekend the beguiling ‘On A Friday’ from indie four-piece DropPink, who played a blinder.
An impossible dream
Scott Hamilton Quartet Dean Street Nights Woodville ***1/2 Lost in time, this record of a January night in Soho belongs as much to the 1950s as it does the London of two years ago. The American saxophonist’s association with Pizza Express Dean Street goes back decades and there’s even a picture of him on the wall wearing a hard hat the time the club had the builders in to increase the size of the place back in the 1990s. I was lucky enough to catch this very band, Hamilton here with his long-running quartet of pianist John Pearce, bassist Dave Green, and drummer Steve Brown, two days earlier during their residency (having not heard Hamilton play live since a Belfast appearance during the Troubles).
During the set I heard earlier that January week some of the songs took 15 minutes to unfold, and at the tempos Hamilton and the quartet play that’s a pleasurable eternity. Their interpretation of the Mandel/Mercer song ‘Emily’ made a deep impression that time and the melody has never left me since. ‘Emily’ isn’t here alas and the longest song is a version of Fats Waller’s ‘Jitterbug Waltz’ clocking in at a relatively measly 13 minutes and 12 seconds. Live Hamilton never hurries (even on ‘Cherokee’, included here) and I think he’s even better here than the night I turned up.
Dean Street club engineer Luc Saint Martin who knows the place inside out has captured the sound of the room immaculately and you can hear audience members properly registering their appreciation. Somebody goes ‘yeah’ for instance in just the right gap, after 22 seconds, on ‘Sweet and Lovely’, and Hamilton responds.
The Steinway sounds supper-club bright just as it is in this basement room and the drums have come up well, probably better than if you’re actually there sat in a lesser spot on a stool at the narrow end of the bar or on a long table near the swing doors where the draught sometimes affects the sound.
In Hamilton’s hands the past is always present, the future an impossible dream. On ‘If I Had You’, that past not as distant though as 1928 and an extraordinary early version of the song by Fred Elizalde and His Music with singer Al Bowlly (later killed in the West End during the Blitz). Yet Hamilton's jazz is still a world away from most contemporary saxophone styles today. This Woodville release isn’t available as a 78 or on vinyl but with Scott Hamilton it might as well be, a bit of crackle would only add to the atmosphere. ‘If I Had You’ is the best thing in terms of tempo and characterful tone of the seven songs, Hamilton sounding at his most Ben Webster-like, a rare talent, on an album that has charm and poise. It could never have been captured in a studio in quite the same inspirational way. Stephen Graham
Released on 24 February
Indie jazz labels
Babel Current artist releases include Free #3 by Black Top.