Last night saw a stellar line-up in a superb London jazz club that was packed to overflowing with mainly industry people, all there to witness the launch of something new at Pizza Express Jazz Club. Following the success of last year's The Big Audition with Jamie Cullum and Pizza Express, The Soho Sessions, a special series of nights to support raw live talent, promises to showcase even more great artists.
What a launch it was! On the hottest day of the year so far, it was about to get even hotter in that basement club! To begin with, not quite what you might expect to find in a jazz club but Shlomo (find him here) demonstrated his immense beatbox skills with great enthusiasm. Interestingly, he said he started off as a jazz drummer and it was a big deal to find himself on the hallowed Pizza Express Jazz Club stage.
I've been listening to Mara Carlyle since Jamie played her on his BBC Radio 2 show and was eager to hear her live. She was introduced to the stage as possibly the UK's best female vocalist of the moment. A beautiful lady with a voice to match, Mara delivered a breathtaking performance with elegance and emotion.
Next, a familiar face was invited up to play a few songs. Jamie Cullum was in the house. He began by saying how utterly unique and skilled Mara Carlyle, Gregory Porter and Shlomo were and he was really happy to see them all here at the club on the same night.
Jamie decided to play new songs since he's writing his new album at the present time (still no date for release but he's working hard!). He wrote the first song, an up-tempo When I Get Famous only the day before, and explained it is about a schoolboy who loves a girl and she doesn't love him back and he hates her for it. Not remotely autobiographical Jamie was quick to point out! Then came the gorgeous Save Your Soul and the Johnny Mercer standard 'Come Rain or Come Shine.'
Already a familiar and popular face on the UK jazz scene, Gregory Porter continues to wow the audiences everywhere he goes. Looking as sharp as always, he was in fine form as he got things started with On My Way to Harlem. Playing with him was the awesome Ben Castle on sax, our very own Chris Hill on bass, Grant Windsor on piano and drummer Richard Spaven. Unfortunately for me, because the show had run over, I couldn't hang around until the end or it would have been a long walk home! But a fabulous launch with some incredible artists. Look out for the next Soho Sessions at Pizza Express!
EDIT: Jamie joined Gregory on stage at the end and they sang God Bless The Child. Sounds like they brought the house down! Watch it here
Read some more reviews, they're coming thick and fast! Will add more links so check back!