Club focus: Green Note

Some jazz fans like their favourite venues to be purist, others don't mind at all as long as the feel is right. I'm in the latter camp as long as there is a decent presence for jazz in the line-ups and it doesn't become taken for granted and only …

Published: 15 Nov 2021. Updated: 18 days.

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Some jazz fans like their favourite venues to be purist, others don't mind at all as long as the feel is right. I'm in the latter camp as long as there is a decent presence for jazz in the line-ups and it doesn't become taken for granted and only slipped on complacently. Camden venue the Green Note, a short stroll from the more famous Jazz Cafe, is certainly eclectic and you are as likely to hear folk, singer-songwriters and the blues here in the two spaces the club provides as jazz. It's perfect for acoustic music given the style of the place. The basement spot reached by a rickety staircase is so small it's more like a living room and great for duos and solo spots. The musicians hardly need amplifying at all beyond a basic microphone.

My routine when I go there is to steep myself firstly in the great history of Camden's music scene by visiting the Dublin Castle rock pub nearby to listen to their excellent jukebox and sometimes catch a band soundchecking before their own gig there and then step round to the Green Note. Probably the best gig I have attended at the Note was in the bigger space on the ground floor level when soul singer Amanda St John appeared there two years ago because it is so once in a blue moon that a singer as credible in this soul seeking retro style as St John comes along. She was like the reincarnation of Dusty Springfield. Whatever has happened to St John since I'd love to know. SG

Green Note street view, top, and above in the lesser known basement space Jihad Darwish and Marcus Bonfanti playing that highly atmospheric spot back in September. Photos: marlbank

Tags: Club and venue focus

Melanie Charles, Y'all Don't (Really) Care About Black Women, Verve ****

Sonic trickery and serious playfulness are at the heart of this Verve catalogue remix project. No shrinking violet singer and flautist Melanie Charles goes for a bubbling, confident raucous strength on all her reimaginings and certainly the …

Published: 15 Nov 2021. Updated: 18 days.

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Sonic trickery and serious playfulness are at the heart of this Verve catalogue remix project. No shrinking violet singer and flautist Melanie Charles goes for a bubbling, confident raucous strength on all her reimaginings and certainly the treatment of Marlena Shaw classic 'Woman of the Ghetto' the Shaw, Richard Evans and Bobby Miller socially conscious classic from Shaw's 1969 Cadet album The Spice of Life captures its spirit. Brooklyn-born of Haitian descent and also known earlier in her career as d'Flower, Charles' cover of Norman Mapp's 'Jazz (Ain't Nothing But Soul)' associated with Betty Carter is more of a rollercoaster ride. But to go right back to the beginning 'God Bless the Child' has an anthemic sweep to it, 'Perdido' sounds so antique and you do a reset when you come across it as Charles samples Dinah Washington. With Charles on the album among others are bassists Dezron Douglas and Tony Garnier, the former Vijay Iyer drummer Marcus Gilmore and Melanie's brother Rogerst Charles on alto saxophone. I liked the production a lot, the shuddering recasting like the sound of buffering on the Internet of Dinah Washington reframing 'What A Difference a Day Made' with its smudging at the edges and rebellious spirit underpinning and destabilising us up front and personal. And that's what Charles does best. It's a tonic as we all grapple with the ever-distant jazz past and square it in whatever way with the 21st century present.