Review: Drambuie’s Brass & Crimson series with BadBadNotGood, Jameszoo & Bradley Zero @ Behind The Bike Shed (London, 9th August 2017)

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For the 3rd year running, vintage drinks brand Drambuie is running its Brass and Crimson series, an event aiming to showcase both the finest in contemporary jazz sounds and meanwhile raise the profile of its brand for a new generation. Where once cocktails were consumed in smoke-filled rooms to the sounds of Bebop, we now have ice cubes jingling in glasses along to the electronic jazz riffs of Canadian groovers BadBadNotGood, a quartet very much at ease with bridging the gap between jazz and soulful, downtempo dance music. Supported by Dutch artist Jameszoo and Peckham’s tastemaker-in-chief, Bradley Zero, this was always going to be much more than just another gig. This was a happening, in every sense of the word.

Through his record label, Rhythm Section, Zero has managed to create an ideal party, where the event itself and the people in attendance is what really matters, rather than who’s playing. With its open, vault aspect, The Bike Shed very much lends itself to this vibe. As host of the evening, Zero warmed up the room on the decks, before heading out to mix with the crowd, as any good host should. Next, Jameszoo appeared on stage with his band. It’s not the easiest music to listen to, challenging us with an atmospheric yet raucous contemporary jazz fusion; a patchwork of dissonance and quirky, cinematic sounds, with a moderate Chick Corea influence seeping through on the keys.

On the more melodic side of today’s jazz scene sit BadBadNotGood. Opening with a rock-tinged rhythm section and busy, avant-garde organ, the audience was soon treated to a very tasteful disco groove. The bar area emptied and the crowd gravitated towards the stage. “Confessions”, a more cooled-down, mid-tempo track, driven by an intensity borne out of the 1970s scene (think Mahavishnu Orchestra and Joe Zawinul) is music to take you elsewhere; music to daydream to. A summery anthem soon followed, with keyboard sounds exhibiting the very different influences of Ahmad Jamal and McCoy Tyner. The deep, resonating groove of “Lavender” moved the gig towards its conclusion. It also moved the crowd, so much so that there was actually more than a semblance of a mosh pit developing in front of the stage. BBNG then slowed things right down to close the night, with something emanating an easy romance, as if one was on The Love Boat, in an altogether different dimension.

More than most genres, jazz music is informed by all the jazz music that went before it. This event, this “party” could have been a night in Green Mill or Village Vanguard, but with a very different dimension. For a new wave of jazz fans, this is the Zeitgeist.

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