Club focus: Ninety One Living Room

In a new marlbank series to focus regularly on clubs particularly new ones visited for the first time we begin with Brick Lane spot Ninety One Living Room. We visited the east London venue for the first time back in September to hear Mark Kavuma …

Published: 10 Nov 2021. Updated: 23 days.

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In a new marlbank series to focus regularly on clubs particularly new ones visited for the first time we begin with Brick Lane spot Ninety One Living Room.

We visited the east London venue for the first time back in September to hear Mark Kavuma and the Big Beat. It is one of our gigs of the year and a venue certainly comfortable and vibrant that we will be heading back to as soon as possible. Place is significant as a factor to overall enjoyment as proved that night. First impressions walking down Brick Lane on that fairly warm evening having got there alighting at the Shoreditch High Street railway station and then walking the short distance towards Brick Lane were how relaxed the scene was.

A lot of this restaurant-bar venue's patrons, a young, friendly, crowd, were outside in the yard area to begin with and venturing inside to the main space we found it to be fairly spacious, the bandstand to the left as you walk in. You didn't feel any sense of claustrophobia and there was no rubber necking, you know when people just stare as if a UFO has just landed. None of that. We watched as the sound engineer set up microphones and the band members that evening started to dribble in. It's not expensive, I think it was £10 in that night, and if you want to get a drink from the bar they give you a wristband as things get busier and again you don't need to take out a second mortagage to buy a Coke.

Some people dine, others sip cocktails, the tables are laid out how you imagine a classic jazz club to be and sightlines are decent. The club sound was fine although the upright piano amplification was a bit murky but improved in the second set. What's on coming up? Mark Kavuma, who you gotta see here, is back tomorrow. Then it's newcomer bassist Kielan Sheard and his trio on Friday, the great singer Cherise probably the finest female jazz singer of her generation around on the London scene at the moment on Saturday; Tenor Madness featuring the very much on form Mussinghi ''Songbird'' Brian Edwards on Sunday and then Ruben Fox on Wednesday for starters. Fox album Introducing Ruben Fox released earlier in 2021 is cleverly sequenced so that instrumentals and vocals have parity and there is even a little classical in the selections filtered by Fox's hand snuck in among the retro-jazz stylings.

Check out the club and the complete list of what's coming up

Sign to head for the jazz, outside Ninety One Living Room on Brick Lane, east London, top. Photo: marlbank

Tags: Club and venue focus

John Patitucci and Andy James, An Evening with John Patitucci and Andy James, Le Coq Records ***

I hadn't heard of Andy James before I must confess. The singer has a pleasant voice and while the whole record has the same kind of stately tempo throughout and hardly adventurous key signature choices James keeping a certain level throughout and …

Published: 10 Nov 2021. Updated: 23 days.

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I hadn't heard of Andy James before I must confess. The singer has a pleasant voice and while the whole record has the same kind of stately tempo throughout and hardly adventurous key signature choices James keeping a certain level throughout and sticking to the memo, it's a very good showing and steady if straight interpretation of a bunch of much-loved standards.

Of course this Evening is all supremely middle of the road and John Patitucci needs no introduction. So if that MOR thing offends you dear reader, thanks for reading thus far and see you. However still with us? There is a huge amount of musicianship here and James is not at all cheesy (a faultline that usually happens when singers get carried away which James does not). Many jazz musicians and fans are very romantic in their love of jazz standards even while going into more adventurous waters on their own projects and if that includes you dear marlbank reader you will find a lot to enjoy here in a comfort blanket of a record.

'Autumn In New York,' 'Besame Mucho,' 'I Love You And Don't You Forget It,' 'To Dream As One,' 'Moonlight In Vermont,' 'Day Dream,' 'Blackbird,' 'When I'm With You,' 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,' 'Unchain My Heart,' 'Fire & Rain,' 'Burn For Love,' 'Some Other Time,' 'Laura,' 'More Than You Know,' 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy,' and 'Angel Eyes' are the songs. For me the best two treatments are James' laidback treatment of 'Besame Mucho' and the simmering take on 'Angel Eyes' at the end that features a fine piano line from Bill Cunliffe.

James is married to Le Coq label founder Piero Pata and runs the new label with him. Le Coq got off to a very fine start this year with quite a few choice releases and I enjoyed the Rick Margitza release they put out most although most of the releases worked on one successful level or other.

Personnel on this new record just released include a range of A list globally renowned jazz musicians such as the great Wayne Shorter bassist Patitucci himself, Chris Potter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, the aforementioned Cunliffe and Margitza, John Beasley, Marcus Gilmore and Jon Cowherd. As we embark soon on the holiday season a non-Yule standards album of this ilk is a far better idea to wind down to than all the Christmas-themed tat swimming around put together. Criminally there's plenty of that from the usual suspects. Stephen Graham

Andy James, top. Photo via Le Coq on Bandcamp