Saturday, November 10, 2018

Macy Gray at Ronnie Scott's

London. Saturday 10-November-2018.

A contrasting pair of of performances, a cheerful and enthusiastic support act and a slick, professional but dour main act.

Being booked for the first house we get a support act. This is Ronnie's opportunity to introduce us to bands we may not otherwise have heard of, in this case the excellent Braxton Cook, a young saxophonist, and his band.

In marked contrast to the Macy Gray he was clearly thrilled to be appearing at the legendary Ronnie Scott's. He smiled, he chatted, he introduced himself and the songs, giving a little background to each number. Sure the music should speak for itself but some context adds to the enjoyment.

In the interval I rushed out to reception but there were no CD's on sale, Fortunately his manager came to the rescue and produced a pile. I thought cash from physical sales at gigs was an important source of revenue for all but the biggest artists. The few thousandths of a cent per stream that Spotify pay won't cover the mortgage. We have listened to the CD several times now with great pleasure - well done Ronnie's for a great support act!

And then we have Macy Gray.  She came on 25 minutes late. With only 1 hour 15 minutes for the set and a second house to follow I was not impressed. Any band should be set up, sound checked and ready to roll at the appointed time. To be fair they did finish late so we got our allotted time but that might have given the house a rushed changeover to prepare for the second house.

The music was superb but the chat was minimal and a smile would have helped.

The reviewer at The House that Soul Built writes:
"‘All the crazy bitches say “yeah”!’ A thoroughly packed audience whooped and hollered to Ms Macy Gray’s encouragement. However, I’m sure Gray wouldn’t be offended by the suggestion that she was probably the craziest presence at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club last night. And it’s a craziness and peculiarity she’s always embraced. She’s had no choice but to with that shredded, breathy, and frankly quite odd voice of hers. [...] Armed with a fully-decked band including two backing vocalists (clad in feathery red dresses and purple wigs), Gray delivered a set balanced between her greatest hits and her new material." Full review...
So that was nice.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Chucho Valdes at Ronnie Scott's

Soho, London. Sunday 04-November-2018.

The joys of being a member and getting advance notice. Mary was able to get tickets for this show before they sold out. We went with our friend Kath and had booked superior seats. Being regulars we knew to ask for the corner seat so that, after eating, we could shuffle round and all see comfortably without one of us having to swivel their head like an owl.

It being a Sunday we get no support act and two sets from the main artist which was a real treat. Couldn't find any reviews of this particular concert but he had a week's residency at Ronnie's three years ago which says it all:

Chucho Valdes/Irakere review – a Cuban hurricane of brass and bata
4 out of 5 stars. Ronnie Scott’s, London
The Cuban masters delivered a vibrant set that mixed intense big-band jazz, funk, rock, ritual percussion and vocals. John Fordham writes in the Guardian:
"Now celebrating their 40th anniversary under the brilliant pianist Chucho Valdes’s continuing leadership, Irakere are a hurricane where the Buena Vistas were a summer breeze. They launched a week’s residency at Ronnie Scott’s club on Monday with the elated parade of big-band jazz, funk, rock, classical music, and African-rooted ritual percussion and vocals that have been their trademark from the start." Full review...
Mary says he's one of the best pianists we've seen. It is amazing how different the same piano sounds with different players at the keyboard. Although I cannot but help but think that the sound engineer might have a contribution there as well.

It was fascinating watching the drummer use a whole variety of weird percussion instruments to conjure up a soundscape but it did occur to me that the pull of the visual perturbed the musical balance. Listening with my eyes closed I got a better sense of the total arrangement.

Excellent stuff.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Walking in the Lake District 2018 - Day 2

Coniston, Cumbria, UK. Friday 02-November-2018.

This was a much longer walk than the last but not as hilly, a circumambulation of Coniston Water.

25.41 km Distance 5:24:36 Time 12:46 min/km Avg Pace 371 m Elev Gain 1,886 C Calories

The weather couldn't make up its mind if it was sunny or overcast so we got a mixture of blue sky, cloud and rain.

A field of alpacas was a bit of a surprise after all the sheep.

Lovely autumnal walking. The outbound leg followed the Cumbria national trail first along the lake shore then headed up the slope of the hills and looked down on the lake.

A sizeable flock of Canada geese. In London parks they are a pest, they eat all the grass, crap all over the place and intimidate the other birds. Here I would hope they are less of an issue with more space to spread about in.

The return leg up the Eastern shore dropped back down to the shoreline.

We passed Brantwood - once the home of John Ruskin, a leading Victorian art critic.

Autumn berries.

As it was getting late and dusk was falling we avoided the high path back and came along the road. instead. Almost back to base, to compensate for the drizzle we got a rainbow.

Back to Coniston for a quick beer in the Crown Inn and then a drive home to the hotel for a long soak in the bath and a glass of champagne.