Jazz London Radio had the opportunity last Wednesday to attend the album launch of two of the stalwarts of British creative music.
The artists in question were Sarah Jane Morris and Antonio Forcione, who launched their new CD entitled “Compared To What” with a special appearance at the Kings Place. The Kings Place is a new venue in Kings Cross so aptly named indeed; for those who have yet to visit, I would call Kings Place a cross between a mini Barbican and mini South Bank centre; meaning, the two rooms for musical performances are fairly small and not the large halls associated with the other venues. Hall 1 (as it is called) holds 420 sears and Hall 2 holds 220 seats. However, there are a few factors which make these Halls very impressive. The first is the acoustics are absolutely incredible. This is the second time I have attended a concert there in the space of a month and each time I have been incredibly impressed. The roof is very high up and the space for the music to resonate is really well done. There is never any boom in the bass parts and the stage for the performers is fairly spacious. The seats are comfortable and of course the venue is completely modern, which makes a nice experience every time.
This seems to make the Kings Place the perfect venue for album launches! As in September I saw the Elda Trio launch their new album there as well. Antonio and Sarah Jane brought trusted musicians from both of their respected bands to make the ideal collective collaboration. Antonio was featured on various acoustic guitars with electronic pick-ups. Jenny Adejayan played cello, Martyn Baker played drums and percussion with Henry Thomas rounding off the band on acoustic bass guitar; and of course Sarah Jane on vocals and a bit of percussion too. These are all high class musicians who have performed with some of the most famous bands in the world.
The set kicked off with Sarah Jane’s compositions “Awestruck and “Comfort Zone” which are the first two tracks on the new album. Sarah Jane gave the audience an insight to what the songs were about which is always a good thing. What grabbed my attention was the reworking of famous songs including Message In a Bottle by the Police, Superstition by Stevie Wonder and the title of the album, originally written and performed by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. Now, I admit that I am generally weary of cover versions by any artist but these covers were terrific and Antonio brought something different with his guitar playing and use of various percussive techniques and harmonics on the instrument. Sarah Jane sums it up best by stating an artist should always claim a cover version; which is illustrated perfectly on “Compared to What” where Sarah Jane namechecked some of the important figures in history towards the end of the song.
Another highlight of the set was the “Wedding Song”, again written by Sarah Jane, a cross between a poem and a waltz, if that makes any sense :-0 A lovely piece of music interpreted beautifully by the musicians. Speaking of which, the acoustic bass guitar played by Henry Thomas was as good a sound as I have heard for a long time. Henry was able to slide the notes like a fretless bass guitar and have a resonance similar to an acoustic bass. Sarah Jane looked fabulous on stage with a red dress which was custom made for her by an Italian designer; she is very animated on stage and is a great story teller. All in all a really great evening of top notch music, great vibes with socially conscious messages in many of the songs.
I interviewed Sarah Jane and Antonio during the interval backstage which was a lot of fun, in fact, I got a lot longer with them than I was expecting, ten minutes. I was expecting four to five minutes; everyone was in a nice relaxed mood really enjoying themselves. You can hear my interview with Sarah Jane and Antonio below.