A few weeks ago at Jackdaw in Clapton, a small quiet buzz that had been brewing for a while was finally released onto the world in the form of Jazz Plus Productions.
A twin company, Jazz Plus is currently operating under the umbrellas of label – Productions – and promoter – Presents. It is the lovingly curated brainchild of two jazz nuts (shocker), grown from a frustration over low-level respect for the smooth genre and a desire to expose the greatest unseen talent out there.
All this enthusiasm spilled out into their initial show, which took place on March 31st. With a pavement billboard hastily scribbled over to declare its newly sold-out status, and the spiral staircase down to the venue vibrating with a constant stream of antsy waiters, the capacity audience just about squeezed into the basement. The fresh faced label owners were also in attendance, trying to put a friendly face to the event they’d no doubt been planning for months.
Yesa Sikyi made the trip up through the Blackwall Tunnel from Trinity Laban to kick the evening off with wild abandon. Playing as a quintet tonight (with seasoned trumpeter Lily Carrasik away), the rhythm section in particular shone, following the lead of bass-man Arthur O’Hara’s free flowing grooves. Chelsea Carmichael on tenor led the band through a cool selection of standards and originals alike, including a strong selection from the band’s latest EP Vol. 1. Occasionally, the liveliness of the audience drowned out some of the more relaxed tunes, but nevertheless call to arms ‘Sometime at 4’ closed the set with the energetic lyricism loyal audiences have come to expect from the group.
Headliners Districts shocked the audience into submission with set opener Metal. Despite an arduous drive down from Birmingham that afternoon, the sextet played with admirable energy throughout the set. It’s easy to see why they’ve been signed to the newly formed Jazz Plus Productions label – they’ve crafted their own unique sound that draws on influences as wide ranging as Snarky Puppy and Daniel Bedingfield, forcing any audience to reassess preconceptions of jazz in its entirety. Districts are definitely ones to watch, and with their debut album coming later this year we won’t have long to wait to hear from them again.
It’s fair to say that Jazz Plus are off to a cracking start. With an ice cold glass of inspiration and a fantastic first gig to build on, something tells us the London jazz scene is far from full.