Rob Edgar spoke to Shez Raja about his live album Soho Live which is to be released in April 2014, with launch gigs at Pizza Express Jazz Club on 16-17 April (tickets HERE)
LondonJazz: ‘Soho Live’ is your first album in four years, what has changed since Mystic Radikal?’
Shez Raja: The musical chemistry between the band members is even stronger now. We’ve done a lot of gigs and festivals, shared some great experiences and have become closer friends in the process. This all adds up to a more intuitive, interactive and fun musical vibe, especially when we play live.
LJ: So what would be the highlights on the live performance front?
SR: We’ve been fortunate to have headlined a number of overseas festivals in the past few years. One standout gig would be Auckland Jazz Festival in New Zealand where we had probably the best view from a stage ever – overlooking a beach, with a volcano jutting out of the sea. St Petersburg festival was also incredible. They treated us really well and even provided us with a stretch limo. I think this should be the basic rider for all gigs!
LJ: Where is your music heading?
SR: It’s definitely getting more experimental. We’re pushing the envelope harmonically and rhythmically whilst sticking with the core essence of energetic grooves and strong melodies.
LJ: You’re known for your highly entertaining and dynamic live shows. Is this the first time you’ve released a live album?
SR: Yes, this is the first live album. The aim was to try and capture the raw energy of the live show on record and I’m pleased to say that we’ve achieved it. I’m really happy with the results and if you play the CD very loud it’s just like being at one of our gigs.
LJ: Where was it recorded?
SR: One of the top London jazz venues, Pizza Express Dean Street.
LJ: Who is appearing on this album?
SR: We have a truly stellar line-up on this album including Soweto Kinch, Gilad Atzmon, Monika Lidke, Shabaka Hutchings, Jay Phelps, Aaron Liddard, Chris Nickolls, Pascal Roggen and Alex Stanford.
LJ: Tell us about the launch gigs at Pizza Express Dean St on 16-17 April: who will be joining you?
SR: We’ll have Shabaka Hutchings, Gilad Atzmon and Monika Lidke appearing as special guests on both nights. We’ll be playing some fresh material alongside all of the hits.
LondonJazz: Anything else going on at the moment?
Shez Raja: I’m honoured to be working on a new studio album – with jazz legends Mike Stern and Randy Brecker. We’re about half way through the recording and it’s sounding sensational.