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Jazz After Dark- Jan 2006
Review Emily Clarke


It may have been said before, but Soho is a strange corner of this heaving city. Jazz After Dark hums quietly on Greek Street overshadowed by bars of little character and much chrome. As I enter, the lights are glowing and the smiles fly between total strangers. Footsteps of the bass tiptoe up behind me and I get that familiar feeling; there’s something rolling along in the corner.

BluesMix play a weekly residency here, attracting a jumble of punters to sit, grin and play table drums to blues that denies criticism. They defy submission to the old favourites rather well, choosing instead to tick between the borderlines of blues, changing the mood with a caprice and freedom that leave you unsure whether to mourn into your glass or holler into the night.

Rob Fleming fronts the band with an accomplished air of mischief, and sings a voice that leaves no room in this tiny bar. Even when not pushing the sound into even the tiniest crack in the wall, Rob finds time to joke. “A little bit of funk for you there…” he drawls, while the bass player Costa leans against the wall, eyes shut – evidently still recovering. I anticipate a breather, but no rest for spent bassists as BluesMix wrench out heavy slow blues from the hand of guitarist Vic Bryant. Drummer Mimi Hajime makes delicate cymbal touches with dreaming face and earnest hands. His control is spiritual, and I can’t remember how many times I’ve sat, transfixed by him as he holds off everything but the time. Bob Morgan scuttles over a shuffle, spidery fingers lending themselves to keys and sax with blistering turns in numbers such as Smokestack Lightnin and T-Bone Shuffle. The beauty of the band lies in their ability to weave the audience through a repertoire that never once seems jaded or flat.

BluesMix play with a heap of soul, each musician taking time to play around the blues. incorporating a wealth of skill and sincerity they mould their sound snugly into Jazz After Dark. Let this punter be sure; an otherwise gloomy Soho night can be easily turned around with a little help from these able players.

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