I went down to Canada Square Gardens briefly on the Sunday afternoon. What a nice friendly vibe. “Just like South Street Seaport in Manhattan,” said my knowledgeable Stateside friend
And here, dear LondonJazz readers, are TEN things which I learnt about the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival:
1) That the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival is the successor to a Docklands Festival which has been going since the eighties. These guys have done some practice, and it shows.
2) That after two years in a venue elsewhere in the district, this was the first one on Canada Square Gardens. It seemed like an ideal spot. The programme is constructed to build during the course of the day.
3) That, even when Jubilee Line and DLR get put out of action it is capable of attracting a sizeable crowd. I was told it had been rammed for Omar Puente on Friday night and for Gilad Atzmon last night. When I wimped off at about 4pm it was fillling up nicely.
4) That the festival is VERY professionally run. The bandstand looked and functioned well, sound and screens were great. People in the crowd seemed completely relaxed. And one musician whom I overheard said he has never been treated better at any other festival in the UK.
5) That the snack and drink prices were great value: High Street rather than Rip Off Alley prices
6) That Australian stay-here (please!) saxophonist Brandon Allen runs a really cool outfit. He was out there out there at Sunday lunchtime laying down some funky stuff with London’s finest: Chris Allard , Ross Stanley, Tom Mason and Jon Blease.
7) That Soweto Kinch has a bass player whose name I didn’t catch, but who could start a new fashion among bass players: looking really happy. You have no idea how disturbing as an idea that is…..
8) That Soweto Kinch’s two personas (or possibly personae) are both, simultaneously growing in staure and individuality. As an alto saxophone player he is developing a real signature sound to go with ferocious technique. And that as a rapper he is masterful at internal rhymes. And add a third persona: he entertains the crowd with real style.
9) That it is possible to really win over a crowd by Freestyle Rapping on six words whose first letters spell “CANARY,” those words in this instant being: Carnival, Amplifier, Nelly, Accountant, Rhubarb and Yoyo.
10) That when someone, in this case Mr Kinch, suggests I should stand up and “stroke the hippo, “ it makes sense to acknowledge that one may have reached an age when one’s hippo has already been sufficiently stroked.
And that in the circumstances one does well to take one’s leave of a highly successful Festival, to write about it.
I’ll be back.
The acts after Soweto Kinch were pretty awful actually. Mary Pearce was dreadful, bullying everyone in the crowd into standing up, singling out individual people and refusing to sing until they stood up. On top of that her voice is singularly unremarkable and music far to close to muzak. Then a band of decent musicians were determined to squander their talents covering the Beatles' Abbey Road. I'm afraid I had to leave when they started playing Octopus's garden. Wish I'd been there for Brandon Allen, but TFL seemed determined to make it impossible to get there.
Richard Kaby has kindly sent in the link to his photos of Mike Westbrook's band at the Canary Wharf Festival
Here's a link to pics of Omar Puente's gig on Friday – there are too sets (if you search around)and you might see yourself in the crowd. The audience loved it and danced without being coerced!http://www.flickr.com/photos/kabyric/sets/72157621925488215/
I disagree about the sound quality — I found it painfully over-amplified, with excessive bass volume making the bass players sound mediocre while drowning out the piano players. This based on seeing the whole of Zoe Rahman's set and the start of Jason Rebello's (both of which I had been looking forward to).