The Jazz Café: Reviewed

The Jazz Café, hosted by the Lumsden Club in Sandy’s Bar, as part of the On the Rocks Festival, was a night of both intimate acoustic music and brash, fabulous, big band standards. The packed bar chatted spiritedly throughout, as the venue as a café and not a concert greatly added to the relaxed feel of the evening.

The event was split in two halves, the first being a collection of duets and solo performers on guitar, vocals and piano, performing a wide range of music from Sam Sparrow to Amy Winehouse, solo jazz freestyle and homemade songs, to delightful and powerful female vocals who soaked up the laid-back atmosphere and made it feel like an intimate living room concert.

When Jazzworks’ time to perform came, however, the mood changed immediately. As they launched into the first few bars of It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), the audience burst into applause with whoops and cheers as the tempo and atmosphere became more crazed. After an hour of close-quarter acoustic music, the bass guitar and drums turned up the heat, alongside fantastic solos, as always, from Dom Bates. Juno gave a great demonstration of jazz scatting and vocal improvisation. Even though I’ve been an active member of Jazzworks for three years and regularly hear him scatting, it never ceases to bring a smile to my face.

The highlight of the evening had to be when, halfway during Route 66, the piano, vocal and bass guitar power all went out, leaving just the drums and sax audible. Instead of stopping, however, Dom and Will Innes on drums kept playing, accompanied by the audience clapping the beat! Once the power was reconnected they finished the song to huge, and well deserved, applause.

The evening ended with a funk-based interpretation of the classic Autumn Leaves in front of the crowded audience. It was a great night, with proceeds going to Fife’s Women’s Aid, that showed people both the flamboyant nature of the big band classics and the cosy, personal nature of the acoustic performances.