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