Macy Gray, Ronnie Scotts, Saturday 10 Nov 2018

Her first album in 1999 was a massive favourite and got played to death, but since then, I must confess, I haven’t kept up with her back catalogue - must try harder. But live, she didn’t disappoint, supported by a fine band and two stellar backing singers, Kayla Starr and Tamika Peoples, although I couldn’t really understand why the band had chosen such low-key stage lighting; such a luminous talent needs to be seen as well as heard. Anyhow, the room rocked and I went home a happy man.

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Opening up on the night, was the bright young musician Braxton Cook, with a fine band. Keep an eye and and an ear out for his music.

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Aziza, Ronnie Scotts, Wednesday 7 Nov 2018

An outstanding gig, one of the best of the year at Ronnies that I’ve been lucky enough to catch. This band is full of seasoned professionals at the very top of their game: as Dave Holland commented, the first time he attended Ronnies it was before the move to Frith Street and he was just 17; that night it was Wes Montgomery. Over 50 years later, he was leading this fine band with Chris Potter, Eric Harland and Kevin Eubanks - Kevin, whom I’d never seen play before was a revelation. Top band. Don’t miss them if you get the chance.

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Also a big shout for the Sara Dowling Quartet, whom I’ll be making sure I check out again in the future.

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Jazz In The Round, The Cockpit, 29 Oct 2018

The penultimate Monday Jazz In The Round of 2018 - how come the years fly by with increasing alacrity? Anyhow, what a gig it was, strong in all three sets. Headlining were a band I’d been unlucky enough never to have seen before, the Jessica Lauren 4.

From top left, we have Cosimo Keita Cadore (drums), Suman Joshi (double bass), Jessica Lauren (keys, vocals) and David “Booie” Gallagher (percussion). Great band playing foot-tapping tunes and radiating positivity and goodwill. Nice.

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In the solo slot, was former headliner Jean Toussaint improvising his way through his set and slowly turning around mindful he had his audience circling him. The Cockpit offers this very unusual in-the-round experience on a monthly basis.

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First up were Brother’s Testatment, a fine new and young band that I cannot wait to see again playing their own gig.

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