(Rich Mix, Shoreditch. 22 September 2017. Review by Leah Williams)
Soweto Kinch is pretty much a household name these days, but that doesn’t mean he’s resting on his laurels. The multiple award-winning saxophonist, MC and composer spans genres and generations, with innovation and passion as the only fixed parameters in his music. And yet his roots are firmly grounded in jazz, and the influence of this is clear to hear. Last night’s gig was no exception and, if ever there was proof that jazz music really isn’t dying out, it was in the sea of fully engaged, enthusiastic faces at Shoreditch’s hip Rich Mix venue.
Apparently, Kinch used to do a Sunday residency at the venue, and he opened by saying what a special and intimate space he found it to be. Going on to introduce music from his new album, Nonogram, as “audio healing”, he joked that it could perhaps “send some people to sleep”. There were certainly no sleepy faces in the audience last night, with everyone kept on their rhythmic toes as strong melodic themes were interwoven and exchanged with more frenetic and virtuosic wanderings. There were few full gaps between pieces, resulting in a seamlessly woven tapestry of complementary sounds and beats.
The atmosphere was pleasantly relaxed and Kinch’s casual use of on-stage gadgets to add extra rich layers of digital sound to the live music felt both natural and innovative. Close your eyes and you would have been forgiven for thinking there were far more than just the three musicians up on stage. As it was, both Nick Jurd on bass and Will Glaser on drums were seriously excellent additions, with the synergy between all three musicians and the digital sounds creating an electric vibe.
With support from talented friends Kingpin and Jonzi D, there was much love and laughter shared generously, along with a serious amount of audience participation! Fantastic MCs all three, the night ended with a bit of freestyle based on words thrown out by the audience – a particular favourite most definitely being “marshmallow”, a challenge that was deftly risen to.
Alongside this, there was a fearless delving into the subjects of current politics and affairs, which was effective without being overwhelming. As he placed his sax to one side and took to the mic, Kinch asked: “What’s it all for?” in his track Four Caste, with everyone echoing his sentiments both in spirit and quite literally as he got the crowd dancing and singing along with his infectious enthusiasm. Other particularly reverberating songs to look out for on the new album include Mitosis and Soul Bearings.
A fantastic gig that only further solidifies Kinch’s genius as a multi-faceted and engaged musician.