Review: Soothsayers @ Ghost Notes (London; Thursday 4th October 2018)

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The art-splattered walls of an old Peckham car park makes for a fantastically immersive and creative space, that holds all manner of independent businesses and creative hives. On the fifth floor sits Ghost Notes, a trendy music/events venue with a wonderful spectacle view of the tube occasionally whizzing past behind the stage.

Soothsayers were introduced as being ‘deeply rooted in their foundations’, whilst also being about ‘innovation’. They opened with the title track of the album, ‘Tradition’, in acapella three-part harmony; a harmony that they basically continued throughout every song – a signature sound of theirs. They moved into ‘Good Vibrations’, showcasing their trumpet, saxophone and trombone trio.

I noted that the band is a somewhat all-star line-up with globally acclaimed musicians Kishon Khan on keys, and prolific London drummer, Tansay Omar.

The band said the new album Traditions is about “what we hold on to, and what we overcome”. Appropriately, they followed with their track “Overcome”, driven firstly by bass, then with some funky keys and uplifting harmonies once again. The singer and saxophonist, Idris Rahman, has an amazingly endearing stage presence that, by this point, had the whole room following in the funky ‘skank’.

Each song seemed to start by highlighting another member’s instrumentation, which gave good variety. As well as this, the drums played some really complicated rhythm changes that fully adapted the energy of each song and triggered explosive moments with the brass section.

When they came to play my personal favourite: ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’, they made a moving dedication to South London’s Jimmy Rogers, the ‘Topcats’ basketball coach and mentor to thousands of youths, who sadly passed that week. A dedication was warmly received, and a moving rendition followed.

Julia Biel sang ‘Watching The Stars’ with her stunning reggae jazz vocals, whilst an amazing musical build up during ‘Dis&Dat’ exploded with the final addition of booming trombone.

‘Take Me High’ was a highlight indeed with everyone dancing. The band then introduced some members of their youth group, Youthsayers, who quite literally put every adult musician to shame, starting with a stunning young saxophonist playing with the soul of an old accomplished jazz star – so talented my jaw actually dropped.

Overall the evening was stunning. Each element of musicality, including harmonies, brass section, drums, keys and guitars, was on point, tight and professional. The result: stunning South London dub with explosive brass that can win over any audience member.

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