JLR Review: Rebecca Nash & Atlas at the Seabright Arms, November 2019

The British jazz scene is going through an extremely vibrant period right now.  As 2019 draws to a close, there have been more new releases by British acts than for some time, facilitated by record labels like Whirlwind and Ubuntu who have contributed significantly to this trend over the last few years.

One artist to come to the fore is pianist / keyboardist Rebecca Nash and her group Atlas who released her debut CD in July entitled Peaceful King on Whirlwind records.  Peaceful King straddles many musical forms focusing mainly on jazz with a sprinkling of new age and electronica; an extremely mature and ethereal offering for a debut.  Rebecca recently embarked on a UK wide tour to promote Peaceful King and I was fortunate to catch her album launch at the Seabright Arms in East London in the tail end of November.

The Seabright Arms is an interesting venue; although a pub upstairs there is a vibrant music venue downstairs in the basement, with a layout that can only be described as a mini version of the 02 Academy in Islington, not what you would expect hidden below a typical looking pub! There is no seating, well there wasn’t for this gig, so you have to stand the whole way through, or dance if that is your wont. This layout is In keeping with a venue perhaps more suited to rock and other forms of popular music. And similar to a rock venue, there was a support act first up called the Nick Walters quartet, led by trumpet player Nick Walters, who also joined Atlas and played in the main performance of the night. 

The gig featured tracks from Rebecca’s album, starting off with the title track which has an  “ECM” feel, combining jazz with electronics, Sarah Colman provided vocals on Hotwired and Grace, whilst Dreamer contained a haunting trumpet solo by Nick Walters. There was a vibrant and attentive audience including many big figures on the scene, which indicates the esteem in which Rebecca Nash is held. The only downside was the gig was too short!  The band was on stage for exactly one hour but the more important thing to note is how much talent is coming out of Britain right now, and definitely these artists deserve as much airplay as possible.

Atlas comprises:

Rebecca Nash: Piano / Keyboards

Thomas Seminar Ford: Guitar

Chris Mapp: Bass

Matt Fisher: Drums

Sara Coleman: Keyboards

Nick Walters: Trumpet

Nicholas Malcolm: Trumpet

JLR Review: Arun Luthra at Oliver’s Jazz Bar, August 2019

Here at Jazz London radio we get the opportunity to see and interview some top class performers.

One man who comes into this category is Arun Luthra, a saxophonist and konnakol artist who hails from Massachusetts in the United States and bases his musical career In New York City.  What is konnakol I hear you ask? Konnakol is the art of performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian Carnatic music https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konnakol .     

Arun was in the UK recently on tour with his group, Arun Luthra’s Konnakol Jazz Project, playing venues in London and Brighton, including Ronnie Scott’s, where he had the opportunity to play as leader for the first time. Arun also came down to Greenwich to play in Oliver’s Jazz Bar, which is where I went to interview him and take in his performance.  Oliver’s is a bar in the heart of Greenwich town centre, opposite Greenwich theatre and bordering Greenwich park.  To access the bar you have to proceed downstairs into a dark but very cosy old school setting, perfect for taking in creative music.

Arun is a very tall and statuesque figure, in fact, too tall for the stage at Oliver’s! Arun had to perform off the stage just in front of the seated audience, one way to get closer to the musicians. As for the music itself, Arun went through an interesting repertoire of various musical fusions, from the hard bop influenced Perc-kol-ude/Toorna, which contained some konnakol to The Divvy-Up Dance with its propulsive beat and changes in tempo; where Arun played soprano saxophone. Arun was a founder member of Bjorkestra, a big band dedicated to the music of Bjork and performed Soon Starts Now, a Bjork inspired composition. Arun also played a cover, called Suspone, which was written by Mike Stern and appeared on Michael Brecker’s Don’t Try This At Home album in 1988.  Arun finished his set performing Collective where he brought his konnakol skills to the fore and allowed his musicians to stretch out a bit.

All in all a highly enjoyable set in front of a very appreciate audience.  Arun’s Konnakol Jazz Project U.K. tour consisted of:

Arun on tenor & soprano saxophone

Sam Leak – piano

Tom Mason – bass

David Ingamells – drums

You can listen to our interview before his set here:

Laurie Burnette