(Green Note, Camden. 22nd April 2012. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
Debut gigs do not come more assured than this one. The Alice Zawadzki Band was making its first appearance ever at Camden's Green Note last night, (nice room!) but there was absolutely nothing half-cooked about the performance. With their professional performance energy, and an infectious sense of enjoyment, they are totally gig- and festival-ready, and if they were to walk straight into a studio this morning, with their strong material, they would record a very convincing album indeed.
Alice Zawadzki is Anglo-Polish, in her mid-twenties, from Abingdon in Oxfordshire. She studied undergraduate classical violin at RNCM in Manchester, followed by the RAM postgraduate jazz course as a singer and composer. Think of the possibilities. It's Curved Air with Sonja Kristina not just singing and leading the band from the front, but being Darryl Way and playing the violin. And writing the songs too.
The material covers all the ground from Sephardic and Greek folk-songs to Polish ballads to reggae to Joni Mitchell. Working with the immensely capable trio of Kit Downes on Hammond organ, Alex Roth on guitar and Jon Scott, drums, the range of textures and colours, the expressive possibilities seemed more or less infinite. Olivier Messiaen meets Jimmy McGriff. Hell yes. Chill-out lounge to dance floor. Walk this way.
Zawadzki is an appealing and versatile vocalist with a Karin Krog-ish lower register, but she also conveys both authority and emotion. She fronts the band confidently, but is a musician of class who can also hide herself in the texture as instrumentalist. At one point she was crouching, pushing out some rhythmically provocative slow double-stopped ricochet bowing, and letting Alex Roth's gentle guitar have the limelight. The next she would up on her feet nailing a powerfully emotive lyric ( which she can do in Polish as well as in English).
Any festival programmer who chooses to book them for this summer will not regret it. With this level of versatility and quality of material, this band should definitely be going places.