Preview: Fofoulah, Servant Jazz

Into the sounds of Senegal, dazzling sabar flow and a whole lot more? Fofoulah are that bit distinctive and appear on Saturday night all being well. But the venue they are to play has been blighted by flooding as a result of ongoing building work …

Published: 28 Oct 2021. Updated: 36 days.

Into the sounds of Senegal, dazzling sabar flow and a whole lot more? Fofoulah are that bit distinctive and appear on Saturday night all being well. But the venue they are to play has been blighted by flooding as a result of ongoing building work nearby lately so hopefully the roof will not spring a leak again if the heavens open. It's Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston where the griot's going on. And finding out the latest, marlbank popped in during their recent chess night and was alerted to the gig by Alice Passey who runs the place. Standing talking behind the bar Alice only broke off to join in a game of chess in a break, a new passion, she says, having got into the board game via the chess.com website. Servant Jazz is tiny. You go downstairs from street level on Bradbury Street for the live music. First on our radar in 2016 the barefooted pianist Sarah Tandy was in residence back then and was a fine bit of booking and high on the agenda of any self-respecting London jazz scenester to catch at that time. Unfortunately we have missed so far the great ex-Polar Bear/Andy Sheppard/Patti Smith drummer Seb Rochford's current residency but it continues, Alice says, with a collaboration featuring the fine Jazz Jamaica guitarist Shirley Tetteh and the Anthony Braxton and Lady Blackbird bassist Rochford's bandmate in Pulled by Magnets Neil Charles. Looking ahead to Saturday Fafoulah with their charismatic frontman the griot Batch Gueye from Senegal who sings in Wolof is teamed with not only the free-jazz saxophonist familiar to fans of the ECM and Babel labels Tom Challenger but also Robert Plant drummer Dave Smith among the line-up.

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Harry Baker trio, Vortex

So which were the more interesting parts of the first house set from newcomers the Harry Baker trio: the originals or ''the standards part'' as pianist Baker described the latter? That's not an easy question to answer. Let's defer. Because both …

Published: 28 Oct 2021. Updated: 36 days.

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So which were the more interesting parts of the first house set from newcomers the Harry Baker trio: the originals or ''the standards part'' as pianist Baker described the latter? That's not an easy question to answer. Let's defer. Because both certainly had their merits and this was a great introduction to a new trio in front of a typically alert Vortex listening audience. Baker has a stellar academic classical background from his time at Oxford University and at the Royal Academy of Music, his style a little Nikki Iles-like certainly towards the beginning and throughout he was strong on detail and showed a lot of flair in his soloing, the building blocks of the tunes largely modal and modernistic.

Double bassist Will Sach who also studied at the Royal Academy of Music upped the ante in terms of soloing later, a double bassist who comes over like a new Dave Holland in the making and was here just as impressive as when first heard by marlbank live at Kentish Town venue the Oxford with trumpeter Alex Ridout back in the summer. When the trio grooved usually the sound percolated up from the bass beat and McLoughlin then ran with it. There were different elements to the originals: the writing of Baker on the one hand, the Gwilym Simcock-esque 'Beyond the Smog' the pick, and the very different style (far more involved and less dreamy) from drummer Oren McLoughlin out of Chetham's and the Royal Academy of Music whose homage to the German twin of his hometown Glossop, Bad Vilbel, imagines a lively contrast to the frustration of home ''where nothing happens''. He also spoke to the audience engagingly if briefly as most of the tune announcements were by Baker.

Of the covers the trio's take on John Scofield's 'Meant to Be' worked best, McLoughlin whose role came to the fore quite like Bill Stewart on the 1991-released Blue Note record. Perhaps the trio's future is to explore 1990s jazz even more because this worked well. They also did an easy-to-digest version by contrast of far more recent indie band Big Thief's 'U.F.O.F'. That was the biggest surprise of what was a vivid snapshot of a talented new trio at work. The Baker trio play the OSO Arts Centre in Barnes on 7 November

Harry Baker, top left, Will Sach, Oren McLoughlin