Review: Jean Toussaint; Cloudmakers Trio – Crypt Jazz Club in Camberwell – reopening gigs

The Crypt, Camberwell. Photo credit: John L. Walters. All Rights reserved

Jean Toussaint; Cloudmakers Trio  
(Camberwell Crypt Jazz Club re-opening, 14th and 15th June 2013. Review by John L. Walters )

Urbanists know that once you have sorted out the basics, like schools, libraries and sanitation, what every neighbourhood needs is a bookshop, a jazz club and a couple of places where you can get a decent espresso.

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It’s only recently that the Camberwell-Peckham area, where I live, has caught up on the espresso front, but for the past 18 years we’ve had one of the most likeable jazz clubs in Christendom, a regular Friday night session at the Crypt beneath St Giles in Camberwell Church St.

Founded by Les Alden and Russell Occomore in 1995 (and originally funded by the proceeds of some Napoleonic gold discovered at the church door), the Crypt Jazz Club has presented a good mix of national and international jazz and world music artists while retaining the enthusiastic spirit of a regional venue.

The club itself is a quirky L-shaped space with a tiny stage but is has an instant ‘jazz vibe’ – it’s a noir-ish location straight from 50s and 60s movies such as All Night Long, The Subterraneans or even Funny Face. Even the prices evoke an earlier age: £2.50 for a bottle of San Miguel.

Locals were disconcerted a few years ago when the club went through uncertain times: a change of management followed by closure. The good news is that the Crypt is back in business with the original team running the show. The venue has had a lick of paint – the stairs and floor are an alarmingly diabolical shade of red for a holy location – but once the space fills up it’s not that different from before. And I’m happy to report that the Crypt got off to a magnificent start with gigs by Jean Toussaint and Jim Hart , the latter previewed for LondonJazz by Jim Hart.

Larry Batley, Jean Toussaint. Photo credit: Jonny Phillips 

Tenor player Toussaint – playing with his usual relaxed authority – was a good choice to kick off proceedings, playing standards such as Solar and Green Dolphin Street and a good helping of Monk classics such as Rhythm-A-Ning. His band included pianist Andrew McCormack, and perhaps the most intensely enjoyable moment, as we edged into the small hours of Saturday, was a magnificent version of McCormack’s tune Tunnel Vision, driven along by drummer Ben Brown and bassist Larry Bartley with an escalating groove that also had a touch of loose, New Orleans funk.

Jim Hart. Photo credit: John L. Walters

Cloudmakers Trio, led by vibes player Jim Hart, continued the Monk theme on Saturday (a special event as part of the Camberwell Percussion Festival) with a beautiful version of the proto-minimalist Epistrophy. But the main focus was on Hart’s excellent originals, including Angular Momentum (dedicated to his mum and dad) and Post Stone, inspired by a visit to John Zorn’s Stone club in New York. Hart gets a big, ‘orchestrated’ sound from the trio with bassist Michael Janisch, (founder of Whirlwind Records) and Dave Smith, also Robert Plant’s drummer.

Next Friday June 21st features Tony Kofi, reviewed by John L Walters at the Crypt for the Guardian in 2006

JazzLive / Jazz Umbrella website

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1 reply »

  1. At last “The Crypt” is back in action. The Cloudmakers Trio were excellent. Long may “The Crypt” run.

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