Orphy Robinson & Nu Savanna (London Jazz Festival) Forge, Camden 20/11/10
The London Jazz Festival spreads itself vast and wide, yes many of the events take place on the Southbank Centre and the Barbican but also in cool clubs like the Forge in Camden. This new venue has a cracking vibe to it and tonight was my chance to catch up with British jazz heavyweight and funk spreading devotee, Orphy Robinson and his reincarnated troop called Nu Savanna.
Orphy as you should know is an exceptional musician known for his vibraphone skills and one of only a handful of british artists ever to have graced the Blue Note Records roster but tonight not content with playing just his main instrument, he treated us to some trusty wurlitzer grooves, synths, electronic congas and a touch of Augustus Pablo stylee melodica! A man for all seasons! The uber talented Soul Jazz Legend Jessica Lauren was on keys too adding the spicey wah wah funky vamps to the repertoire.
The show got off to a fine start with some spright original jazz funk, highlighting his young band which featured the propulsive Kay Rodriguez on drums, the taut guitar playing of Michael Antoniou and the light fingered (in a good sense!) Renel Shaw on bass plus three yes THREE vocalists! Richard Anthony Davis whose incredible soulfulness was ever apparent plus the neo soul vibe of singer Theo Llewellyn and then to top it off the sweet but sassy Chantelle Nandi. Like the 3 amigos the vocalists all backed each other as they al, in turn, became the lead. Nice team work, Orphy their musical coach runs a tight ship. Solid Grooves were the order of the day so it's easy to see why Robinson has come to be regarded as something of a prophet of the acid-jazz movement.
Tonight was all about the funk, the cherry picked material was an absolute joy. A stonking Rufus and Chaka Khan version of 'Tell Me Something Good' I was in wah wah heaven when this kicked off and you could see smiles from the audience breaking out all over the joint. Nice to hear a Phil Perry tune too and a towering one at that 'Call Me' was given the right royal treatment that only a singer of R.A.D.'s pedigree could deliver. Top Stuff! Stevie's 'As If You Read My Mind' was a highlight too and it was great to see the whole band join in with the percussion break. Jovial as ever and pleased to be immersed back in the funky fold Orphy and co were spreading the love at this vibey venue in Camden.
Good to see him back fronting his own thing. His career represents the very heart and soul of musical Black Britain. That legacy is something we as a music loving nation need to preserve, cherish and nuture for generations to come. He's been blessed, not only with the gift of playing but also the ability to communicate his love and impart the knowledge of the music to so many people. "A great band leader without question, the focal figure on his instrument. Committed and dedicated which allows him to share the love and keep fuelling the funk with the many incredible students he's taught over the years (btw,who else would dedicate a song to ilea!!) plus his excellent musos who represent the future of this music." Top Night! A personal highlight of the London Jazz Festival.......
PHOTOS BY ZIGGY
Words Emrys Baird