Jazz After Dark- Jan 2006
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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