Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1097

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The Project PH Band & Jam Session: Spice Of Life, Soho, London 5/2/20

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Good to see the Spice Of Life jazz sessions are thriving, they've been running for several years putting on all things jazz-related and relevant and props must go to Paul Pace and crew for keeping such a tight ship afloat.

But tonight people, it was all about the, 'one' and putting it on the good foot was groove mistress and uber bassist, Yolanda Charles leading her group, namely, The Project PH Band. Offering us all a heady, funky range of intricacy and improvisation and a glowing testament to her skills as a bandleader and performer.

The jam session I walked in on was literally seething with excitement as the vocally gesticulating and highly energetic singer, Paris Ruel was getting down with guest singer, Adeola Shyllon who was giving as good as she got. Fellow, musical 'carpet layer' drummer, Chris Morris sat on the groove judiciously allowing the artist creative freedom and pure vibes expressionism. She even stepped down briefly and let another superb bassist sit in.

The standard of guests, who got up to play, was really excellent, they knew they had to be on the money and keep a keen eye on Charles, whose subtle gestures and eye contact and band leading tactics were a particular joy to behold. Yes there was some fine young drummers, in particular, Ray Gymenet who channelled some of the Clyde Stubblefield spirit on "Mother Popcorn" and again singer, Ruel took flight and completely owned this JB classic with an electrifying
rendition and performance.

Martin Stewart, another drummer, grooved majestically on the Gwen McCrae funk evergreen "All This Love That I'm Giving" and guest guitarist Ian Salmon briefly stood in for the very schooled guitarist, Kim Murray and was a particular delight with a solo that was cutting, interesting and 'out'!

Good to catch the robust sax of Ritchie Garrison too, blowing up a storm and a young vocalist called Emilia Anastastazja who was wearing not a raspberry but blueberry beret, acquitted herself with a fine rendition of Aretha's "Rock Steady" a tall order for such a young slip of a thing. It was patently obvious she was having a ball and you could tell how happy she was to be up on stage with this crack ace band.

Soho was fuelling the flames of funk tonight, fanning a really top night out. Variety is the spice of life and you always guaranteed to get it at this fab basement venue.

Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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