If we had a jazz club scene The Eddy might do it a bit of good

Watching the first episode of The Eddy as the bar tender flings ice into an ice bucket in the Parisian club, a female singer backed by a hard bop band just about keeping our attention as the camera unveils an authentic looking place, the label guy …

Published: 8 May 2020. Updated: 2 months.

Watching the first episode of The Eddy as the bar tender flings ice into an ice bucket in the Parisian club, a female singer backed by a hard bop band just about keeping our attention as the camera unveils an authentic looking place, the label guy who came to check out the band not fussed as it turns out, musicians unhappy in the dressing room as pianist-owner Elliot (André Holland, above left) looks on even more miserably given the low turn-out and how badly the band are playing he thinks, before moving bad to worse getting beaten up by Serbian heavies who arrive after-hours looking for money (he'e even more miserable by then), this really contemporary good looking French and English dialogue drama ironically could do the jazz club scene a lot of good given that loads of new people will watch it on Netflix and I'm already getting decent wannabe Bertrand Tavernier vibes (Tavernier made one of the best ever evocations of jazz in recent decades on Round Midnight also set in Paris). That irony is it might do if we had a jazz scene any more given that everything's closed. Bummer eh? But maybe people will somehow post-Lockdown think hey that Eddy thing was a bit corny but OK: let's find a jazz club for the first time.

It doesn't escape me that if a new jazz album rather than a drama got half as much hype as this series has got in the media in the build-up to today's premiere then we could be living in a more savvy world where jazz actually gets exposure rather than as is the reality is instead habitually ignored by the dumb culture pages who prefer to laud some piece of braindead trivia with a backbeat that disappears oh two seconds after you hear it but happens to be pushed by big companies who flog it to death as if it were a tube of, what they don't realise, much more interesting toothpaste. The whole Eddy thing trades on updating the mystique and that invisible magic is just one of the elements we are all missing about not hearing jazz in a club at the moment and which makes it so important from a social point of view as well a musicial point of view place of creation, and for ideas crossing boundaries to stir the imagination. Everyone gets ideas and inspiration in a jazz club whatever your background is and I think this drama tries to make sense of all that but keeps it human amid all the dreaming and however much it gets it right or wrong. SG

Photo Lou Faulon/Netflix

Become a marlbank regular

Tags: News

Albums, latest review: Victoria Geelan, Sophisticated Lady

With every step she becomes that bit greater. Feeling good? No. You will be, promise after this. One of the finest jazz vocals albums of the year for me so far and the bar is set high already with new albums from Ian Shaw and Kandace Springs among …

Published: 7 May 2020. Updated: 2 months.

Next post

With every step she becomes that bit greater. Feeling good? No. You will be, promise after this. One of the finest jazz vocals albums of the year for me so far and the bar is set high already with new albums from Ian Shaw and Kandace Springs among the pick.

Of course I'm riffing on the standard associated with Nina Simone that opens the album and although fairly ubiquitous and you might think done to death sounds brand new in Victoria Geelan's hands. Last time this blog was lucky to catch Victoria after previous occasions hearing her with Gay McIntyre's band at a theatre show and in Derry at Bennigans was in a simpatico place called Pat’s, Victoria with the bassist on this new record Rohan Armstrong there on that occasion down in Skintown. And also on her new record she has the fine Berts house pianist Scott Flanigan with her plus ''Pádraig González'' on drums. And Scott accompanies her beautifully, González good too on sheer feel at first blush.

Victoria is a throwback as all the best jazz singers are and knows her classic jazz like few jazz singers out there can only aspire to. She has the potential to be very famous but maybe she won't be at all and will remain instead a well kept secret for connoisseurs in Derry where there is one of the best jazz scenes in Ireland. Or was before Lockdown. This record I think accelerates that possibility of greater profile no end. Remember it is undorned production on a shoestring budget and yet she shines. These standards are so familiar but she treats them like they are dear friends and feels at home.

I think at this point I'll share Julie London's 'Sophisticated Lady', although I still think she doesn't sound like Julie, actually she only sounds like Victoria Geelan nowadays after flirting with the June Christy sound more in the past. But hey Victoria's version of the Ellington classic stands that difficult comparison in terms of being a significant statement. The other big highlight on Sophisticated Lady is her take on 'There Will Never Be Another You' again proving herself an insider on a big song. Her treatment of 'What Kind of Fool Am I' also is beautiful and again underlines Geelan's quality, the way she exudes affinity through sensibility and skill.

The Mitchell Parish lyrics paint such a vivid picture and the singer knows how to interpret them. “Smoking, drinking, never thinking of tomorrow, nonchalant diamonds shining, dancing, dining, with some man in a restaurant”. The key difficult question of a song about interior desire that she knows how to convey follows: “Is that all you really want?” Stephen Graham
Victoria Geelan above with Rohan Armstrong. Photo marlbank