REPORT: Christian Brewer/Jim Mullen Band at the Woodman N6; Chris Laurence Quartet at Karamel N22

This Thursday Mar 31st at Karamel, The Great Wee Band
L-R: Henry Lowther, Jim Mullen, Dave Green, Stu Butterfield
Photo credit: Trio Records

Brian Blain took in two gigs in the same area of North London on the same night. Here is the report of a Thursday crawl through Haringey:

Last Thursday, the night before Easter, London’s Borough of Haringey felt like the ‘jazz corner of the world’ and dashing fom one gig to another at opposite ends of the borough was the nearest I will probably get to that old 52nd St. experience. First, to The Woodman, right next to Highgate Tube Stn., where one of Shaun Hargreaves’ Funky Thursday gigs was absolutely packed out with that elusive younger audience to hear the Christian Brewer/Jim Mullen Band. Most of them couldn’t have been around when anthems by the likes of George Duke, Grover Washington, Stanley Clarke,and the daddy of them all, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, first hit our ears and moved our feet. Clearly this much derided bag can still pack a punch, with a whole new crowd who may have been weaned on their mum and dads’ totemic vinyls. None of this would have worked without Brewer’s dynamic enthusiasm and though Mullen has longsince moved into pastures new his beaming face suggested that even he can be turned on by yet another jazz bag labelled nostalgia. And why not?

From there to the other end of the borough, Wood Green, and one of drummer Stu Butterfield‘s regular Thursday nights at the attractive Karamel Club restaurant where every table was full and a line the length of the bar, to hear the Chris Laurence Quartet, four musicians-bassist Laurence, Frank Ricotti (vibes) John Parricelli (gtr) Martin France (drums) – of the highest possible class. Here were tunes, by the likes of old colleagues like Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, John Surman and a couple by Parricelli himself, based on gorgeous melody and realised with time and subtle swing by masters, a superb mix of elegance and balls which is quite rare.

How fortunate to have heard two wonderfully contrasting styles of music in one evening in this most unfashionable London borough. Jim Mullen is at the Karamel on Thursday, in yet another bag, with another master, trumpeter Henry Lowther, in the marvellously unpretentious Great Wee Band.


The Woodman is at 414 Archway Road , Highgate, N6 5UA. A guide to their six-nights-a-week music offering is HERE

Karamel is at 4 Coburg Rd, London N22 6UJ. WEBSITE

Categories: miscellaneous

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