Review: Iness Mezel @ Vortex Jazz Club (London, 10th January 2016)


Iness Mezel’s talent is characterised by a creative dualism. She is deeply influenced by two traditions  – her native Berber and adopted European- moved by the two musical elements of melody and rhythm, inspired by two distinct artistic styles -folklore and contemporary – and  even the pace of her performances can be distinguished by two moods: one intimate and poetic, the other extrovert, extravagant and dancy.

Her recent gig at the Vortex Jazz Club displayed and perpetuated this artistic duality. Iness Mezel spared no effort on the small audience. Originally of French/Algerian origin she plays in the British capital often – London is her second home – so has become used to the local audience. She knows how to treat her fans! Her concert focused on her latest album Strong exposing its upbeat and energetic rhythm as well as its more confidential and visceral songwriting. Iness Mezel effortlessly puts you at ease, lulling you with songs like “Just For Me” or a slowed down version of “Silent Waters”. Then, just few seconds later, she can incite you to stand up, clap your hands and dance to the trotting beats of “Cheikh Mo-Hand” and “Amazone”.

That’s how the intimate French-inspired chansons and bluesy ballads smoothly flowed, mixed with Amazigh and Berber cadenced compositions. The outcome was a captivating show, harmoniously counterpoising styles, tempo and languages. Iness’ stage partners contributed their own styles to the mix –  the eclecticism of Nathaniel Keen’s guitar and the traditional percussive element introduced by Nora Abdoun-Boyer with the bendir (frame drum) and krakebs.

Iness Mezel next show will be at Brixton’s Hootananny, her second London gig of the year. If you want to enjoy her dualistic musicianship and inspired mix of North African and European sounds you know where to head to!

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