New jams and regular sessions seem to be cropping up all over London. It’s a good sign- jazz in London is definitely on the upbeat. The young turks of the city’s music scene are taking the lead and injecting vitality into the small-scale gig circuit.
Cai Marle-Garcia is a good example. This personable young London bassist – taking time out from promoting and touring his first album, the excellent Mr Ears – has added promoting to his musical CV by creating a platform for up-and-coming and established young musicians. Judging by the quality on show this weekend, they are ready and willing to back him to the hilt. On Sunday Cai was joined by drummer Stuart Semple, Shabaka Hutchings, playing the whole gig on clarinet, and Tom Millar on the piano.
Over an hour and a half they ran through standards such as Donna Lee, a couple of Monk tunes – on which Shabaka particularly showed some great improvised touches – finishing off with the breakneck blues of Billie’s Bounce.
After the main set, each Sunday there’s an open jam session. Judging by the number of teenage players waiting to get up and do their thing – and do it well – the production line of young London-based players seeking to make their mark is operating at full speed. Cai’s initiative is to be applauded.
The Map Café is definitely one of the friendlier and commodious of London’s smaller jazz venues and the room upstairs is big enough for these sessions (though a few more cushions would be of benefit to those staying the whole afternoon). At the weekends lunch before enjoying the music can definitely be recommended – the vegetarian lasagne was top notch and the vibe of the place is definitely the polar opposite of Starbucks.
A whole afternoon’s worth of entertainment for £4: it’s phenomenal value.
Either the 46 or the 214 bus gets you there from Kings Cross in less than ten minutes.
Rob Mallows is administrator of the London Jazz Meetup Group