Looking out through the window downstairs you can see the Strata at Elephant in the near distance.
Upstairs in the Loft at the top of the homely restaurant it’s more human scale, a jazz club arrangement laid out, with not too many tables set up, rafters high overhead. Sightlines are good and the house sound after the bassist amped up was fine, not too harsh, the piano however sounding a little cold the January chill drifting in from the roof terrace.
There was plenty of room and no hassle, the place back to normal after the Christmas break, filling up a little. One or two regulars greeted each other with ça va, some musicians including guitarist Robin Banerjee drifted in content to listen a bit and contemplate joining the jam later in the evening. It's OK to talk, “you’re all so well behaved,” host pianist Jason Lyon deadpanned after a few tunes, “we’re not in church – it's a jazz club.”
Benet McLean showed a different side of his artistic profile also touched upon last year when he appeared playing violin on the latest Partikel album String Theory.
Tearing into a rough and ready version of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Dolphin Dance’ the pensive standard in the making that Hancock introduced on Maiden Voyage first released in 1966, the quartet then followed up with ‘Pent-Up House’ the Sonny Rollins tune from a decade earlier that the house rhythm section of pianist Lyon with double bassist Al Gibson and Australian drummer Joel Prime had struck up.
Better known as a pianist, and as Lyon self-effacingly mentioned in his introductions, ‘frighteningly’ accomplished, McLean’s violin playing in this context is more bebop rather than Hot Club-rooted and certainly a world away from his former funk days with Badbone and Co or even Partikel’s game changing take on chamber jazz.
Well worth jumping on the bus to if you live in south London or want to trek over from across the river. A different guest appears with the trio each week, the jam later in the evening.