Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1093

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Live

McAlmont & Webb: The last Bohemians (Album Launch) Hampstead Jazz Club, London 19/11/19

HJF 1
HJF 1

Within just one year of opening, this intimate jazz venue
is thriving and rapidly becoming a great success with some of London's finest jazz musicians performing here, and tonight's EFG Jazz festival gig proved to be no exception. The third sell-out show in a row saw The Last Bohemians, a new team formed by bon viveur and MD extraordinaire, Alex Webb (from the enterprising Copasetic foundation) and torch singer, David McAlmont, come out of the traps running.

When it comes to expressiveness, natural technique and sheer uniqueness of voice, I can think of very few male singers to equal this man's stature (late great Little Jimmy Scott being just one example) put simply, this guy could sing the Ham and High phone book and still have the audience on the edge of their seats.

And in the close, cosy environs of a converted cellar pub with a top-notch jazz band behind him, that's exactly what he did. The acoustics were perfect as the band tore through their album, all sixteen tracks from top to toe, mixing original tunes from main songwriter and arranger, Webb such as, the swinging brace of "The Last Bohemian" and "It's Never Really Over" to the lilting ballads of "That Isn't Really Me" and 'The Loneliest Night". These enchanting tunes have a fine bittersweet sentiment, a cry, a lament and an expression of meditative wonderment.

The covers score highly too. R.E.M. recontextualised into a waltz
gives a song already deep with pathos, even more, peppered with beautiful soprano sax courtesy of Tony Kofi. He just adds the refreshing spring water to the ebb and flow of life. Lennon's "I'm So Tired" gets the Bill Frisell treatment, it's a wonky slice of sleepy blessedness. These guys are proving to be fearless!

Tackling Queen, Radiohead and Suede's achingly beautiful "The Wild Ones" which gets a jaunty, jazzy makeover flipping the original quite dramatically, it seems, refreshingly, nothing is off bounds for this enterprising duo.

"The Look", a joint effort from McAlmont and Webb, hits the mark too, angular and melodic at the same time. Suffice to say tonight was a baptism of fire and an astonishing example of what gets put on at this year’s eclectic and exhilarating jazz festival.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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