Thursday 28 February 2013

Bethany Jameson - Racing Pulses

Bethany Jameson
Mr Rainlore has just written a review of Bethany Jameson's Cabaret Vérité Live At The Royal National Theatre Foyer, South Bank, London SE1, Sunday 3rd February 2013.

Read it here -
LINK HERE to Rainlore's World Website

Friday 22 February 2013

Chico Chica - Cult Classic

Tom Hannah - 'A Scientific Fact'
We didn't see the best side of the genre hopping trio Chico Chica this week (19/02/2013) at The Green Carnation, Soho. In fact it was very hard to see any side of this dynamic group of multi-instrumentalists. Through no fault of their own they performed in a state of near darkness, illuminated only by a throbbing kaleidoscope of colour projections. They worked hard to make it an enjoyable night for the motley crew of foreign drifters and snogging fellas who were enthusiastic about the night's entertainment. More than once I heard a 'So cool' in a thick Spanish twang.

It was mostly latin and jazz standards with Barbara Snow's rendition of 'Berimbau' a stand out. As professionals they had assessed their audience, jettisoned their own tunes and adapted the repertoire. Perfectly correct, but it left me frustrated when we saw glimpses of their originality and brilliance later in the evening. When we did get the chance to encounter the full Chico Chica experience I was spellbound.

The night hinged on one tune. Tom Hannah stood up, dusted himself off and with microphone in hand started with spoken word. The deep green light bounced off the chartreuse walls and Hannah's happiness monologue interrupted Soho's murmur of murky gossip.
Barbara Snow

The tune, 'A Scientific Fact', expresses Hannah's own view that it's "daft that people use science to state the obvious". He was sensational as he subsequently dropped his microphone and hit the dancefloor with a flurry of finger-clicks and moonwalks. By stepping out into the audience he made us all uncomfortable and equally mesmerised, and it was only after the finale when Tom Hannah sat down that you realised you hadn't blinked for a full 5 minutes. There's every chance that this routine will become a cult classic in the style of Christopher Walken's cameo in 'Weapon of Choice' (Fatboy Slim).

Alas the brightest star in the evening quickly diminished,
but there is good news on the horizon because Chico Chica are busy preparing for a new album (their 2nd). In fact Barbara Snow has written more than 20 tunes in preparation, so my desires will be fulfilled.
Hilary Cameron

How I wish I could have heard these original compositions at The Green Carnation. I did though find comfort in the voice of Barbara Snow, the dancing of Tom Hannah and the hypnotic eyes of Hilary Cameron.


Wednesday 20 February 2013

Nigel Price - Naughty but Nice

Nigel Price -
Nigel Price's reputation preceded him, so I arrived at The Bloomsbury (14/02/2013) last Thursday with a bag full of comic material. I'm not just talking about his comedy posts on Facebook but also his family's resemblance to a Beano cartoon-strip . Over the past year we've been treated to some excellent shenanigans from his son, especially his letters home from school. These would have been funny enough even without them been tampered en route and littered with classic adolescent humour.
 Like son, like father in many cases too, because Nigel cannot resist a prank or two. My favourite was the note Nigel left on a badly parked BMW in a multi-storey car park which read (from memory)
'Well done...
I have posted a picture of this on

His demeanour in real life doesn't dispel the vision of him as a larrikin either. As I walked in he was perched on his stool with guitar in hand, his feet barely touched the floor. But this is where humorous anecdotes end.
He was the model professional and quite simply brilliant.

Bob Martin

The evening was a curious one, very much a night of two halves. In the first set Bob Martin (alto), who is the epitome of west-coast cool, was almost too hip to function. Very much in the finger-clicking style of Peter King, he remained unphased by the packed audience in front of him. He never raised his eyes and continually checked his watch, and we watched and worried that he is ailing in some way. If that is the case then his revival in the second set was impressive.
It could be argued that the interjection of Kelvin Christiane and his Baritone sax injected a pump of energy and fluidity into his fellow saxophonist.

Bob Martin although distant with the audience showed his appreciation for some of his fellow musicians. His Errol Garner style yips and yelps accompanied the man on his left, Pete Whittaker on keys. As you know I have worked closely with Whittaker's stunt double Bill Mudge, so it was a real pleasure to experience a man that rivals Bill's skill on the organ.
Pete Whittaker

I didn't have a good view for drawing  Pete Whittaker but was able to pay special attention to his style of playing. As the whole quintet came to life with a rendition of 'Old Folks', Whittaker's left hand resembled a desert lizard on hot sand with digits alternating, no two fingers touched the keys at any one time. His right hand resembled a reptile too, definitely a cobra, it hovered for a beat of the heart before striking the keys at lightning speed, and then recoiled.

The style of Matt Home on drums was all wrists too.
He must possess real power in them because his upper body hardly moves, even when he is in full swing. They snapped and crackled through out the evening.
Matt Home - drums

Even though the night started out as a puzzle, and took time to warm up it ended in good heart. The future looks good too for the Twickenham Jazz Club.
I spent the last few late-night minutes at The Bloomsbury with 'The Dudes' who have been working on the clubs new website -

'Dude' Andy
We talked about the next TJC night which I'll miss unfortunately (21/03/2013: Willie Garnett and Enrico Tomasso Quartet) and the one after ,which I'll be sketching at, (25/04/2013: Georgia Mancio) and got a ringing endorsement from hot-blooded 'Dude' Andy.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Yearning for Delirium - Joanna Strand

Joanna Strand

Before I started my journey into the realm of 'Delirium' I had to be prepared. Although I'd read Joanna Strand's manifesto for a future

including altered states and celebrated imperfections I knew not whether I would find a dystopia or utopia at the Pizza Express last Thursday (07/02/2013).
The previous days I had been sketching in a simulated mental health ward at Kingston University for a commission so I did (for once) feel qualified. The 'patients' I had worked with had been potentially violent, addicted, anxious and possessed minds searching for salvation. Understandably I found myself sitting in Pizza Express' tomblike catacomb in an agitated and exhausted state myself.
As I dropped into my seat and looked across the table at the stranger opposite, alarms bells sounded in my skull. Underlit by the venue's dramatic lighting he turned to me and said 'Jekyll or Hyde?'
John Gregson

The stranger took another swig of Peroni and I wondered whether this was his 'potion'. Within moments I was luckily put at my ease, this wasn't a challenge to my sanity but an introduction. The charming man opposite was none other than the guitarist John Gregson who had worked with Joanna on the hit musical, Jekyll and Hyde.
Before we could exchange our life stories the lights abruptly dimmed and we plunged into 'Delirium'.
Yazz Ahmed
Strand had promised a world of juxtapositions and the group of musicians before us didn't disappoint. She occupied the centre of the stage, fully at ease and with an open warm face. Her wide gestural arms enticed us into her embrace and although absolutely confident (at least on the outside) she still displayed a hint of fallibility.
Where Strand offered us openness, in contrast, Trumpeter Yazz Ahmed's magnet pull was through her crisp understated playing and the those thick lashes under a heavy fringe.
Ahmed epitomises Delirium's statement to represent the yearning, longing and craving represented in music and poetry. To quote it word for word, the audience found themselves 'Wishing for the unattainable'.
Romano Viazzano -
To my right was Romano Viazzano, and his bright red jumper was the only colour in a understated 6 piece group. He is a hard man to describe, this night his smile spread slowly, like an assassins, but a few days earlier I'd sketched him in the National Theatre Foyer, where he performed in front of a crowd of families (including his own 5 children) and he displayed a joyful exuberance. Right now his head was bowed in concentration as he tackled Asaf Sirkis' tune 'Sailing'.
Asaf Sirkis - drums
Again as a juxtaposition sat Sirkis himself, head held high like a thoroughbred on the Epson Downs. Lets face it he is a drummer who would win the jazz equivalent of the Derby by 10 lengths.
I have worked briefly with Asaf on Alex Hutton's Legentis album and he is by no means a temperamental colt.
Once again he was outstanding, performing with grace and tenderness.
Nick Pini - Bass
 As we listened to 'Easy Living', the final tune of the first set, I frantically sketched Nick Pini on double bass. He is hard to capture on paper. He starts every tune with his copper hair neatly pinned behind his ears but eventually the music is too powerful and he reaches the final note in a state of wild dishevelment.
As I got to know John 'Mr Jekyll' Gregson in the interval I asked his professional opinion about the music,
"This is my first taste of Delirium, but what I'm struck by is the textures. The instruments provide us with layers and depth, they work together rather than take the spotlight in their own right."
John Bailey - Piano
 I'd sketched this same outfit (less Frank Walden) at The Forge in 2012 for Mr Rainlore's review, but I enjoyed the ambition and depth of these tunes more. This was a team working together intellectually as well as physically.
 Not every aspect was a success though and I believe Delirium were 'Striving for the Ideal' (to quote Joanna Strand again) and occasionally found themselves in a no-man's land where even a combination of talent and strong emotive intentions was not enough to influence the audience. The poetry was beautiful and well crafted but I couldn't transport myself to the tangible Natural world suggested by it while sitting comfortably in the warm, safe and privileged surroundings of the Pizza Express. I am full of admiration though that they aimed high and as a result we soared at a lofty altitude. Higher even than my previous experience whilst Fly(ing) Transatlantic with them.
Joanna Strand was at her most mesmerising whilst singing Poulenc and the sentiments she paints with her French palette transported me back to the small village of Cambieure, where I still have my studio and many friends. So many French words play with your mind using both sound and meaning, the Papi of all them all is 'oublie' for me. At once reminding me of those people I miss and those that I never want to be parted from.
Eventually I parted myself from Joanna Strand, Delrium and John Gregson but it will not be so easy to forget them.