Carleen Anderson : The Jazz Cafe Camden 18/11/2016
Carleen Anderson walked on to thunderous applause at Camden's Jazz Cafe,a huge grin stretching right across her face and rightly so it was a rare moment to catch this captivating artist and a chance to hear live her new album 'Cage Street Memorial'. After adjusting to the intimacy of the event the noisy audience settled down because when she sings it demands your devoted attention.Her voice is ageless: she can still reach those high head notes of her youth and is clearly still on top of her game with her famous powers undiminished.
Sitting centre stage with her electric piano,Carleen braces herself and commences to relay her sage like story-proud songs with themes of dignity, empathy,dogged perserverence, family roots and love and “a sense of self”.The instrumentation of the band is interesting and rather unique too, Orphy Robinson,a Jazz Warriors don and member of Black Top on sweet and resonant vibraphone ,Samy Bishai on violin adding that folky acoustic, roots edge underpinned by deep and resounding bass from Renell Shaw and lastly, the elastic grooves of percussionist,Crispin Robinson all glued together with Carleen's playing and harmonically rich arrangements.
Her voice like,fine single malt whisky matures better with age and when she uses her vocal harmoniser gismo out comes a choir! It's a stunning performance,she has a presence and style to be reckoned with. The songs feels so minimal and spacious and are the perfect vehicle for her rock-solid integrity. Every instrument, every stab is placed in the most requisite place tunes such as 'Upwards From The Ground' 'Cage St Memorial' and 'Be No Puppet'are deep and lush as Anderson eschews the last drop of emotion out of them.
You could sense the relief as beaming smiles were cast all around after the ever presient 'Inner City Blues' encore had played itself out.I'ts been a long road to freedom for this special artist but after tonight I believe she's got there, she is a true spirit! A triumph and certain highlight of this year's EFG Jazz Festival,bravissima!All praise due to the Godmother of Acid Jazz! Carleen you emit pure love!
PHOTOS EMRYS BAIRD
Words Emrys Baird