Shirley Smart writes...
One of the things I love about London is it cultural diversity. Despite the economic climate, and the occasional presence of a bit-too-much red tape, it has a thriving creative life.
I lived in Jerusalem for many years, also a very multi-cultural city, albeit in a very different way, it this diversity has profoundly influenced my musical activities for many years, and continues to do so now that I am back in dear old (slightly wet) England.
Perhaps it is in some vain hope of bringing the weather of warmer climates over here along with the music, food and people that I am so much enjoying putting together a series of gigs featuring world and folk influenced jazz projects. The series is entitled Jewels of the Nile and will be running at Nolias11, which is a very stylish and vibey new family-run jazz venue in Southwark beginning on Feb 19th.
A variety of artists and projects springing up in London reflect the meeting of European folk and other world traditions with jazz. They are exploring this intersection in a multitude of ways, re-working of a particular body of traditional repertoire to incorporate modern jazz harmonic language, and other contemporary developments such as electronics. These trends are exemplified by the 10-piece electro-acoustic Sefiroth Ensemble run by Nick and Alex Roth, or exploring cultural identities and roots through folk song, as vocalists Alice Zawadzki and Emilia Martensson, and the duo of guitarist Alex Roth and BBC Traditional Musician of the year, Catriona Price, all of whom will be featured in the series later in the spring.
Feb 19th - Melange
My North African/Middle Eastern group Melange will be performing reworkings of traditional repertoire from that region - with Moroccan Oud player Soufian Saihi, guitarist Peter Michaels, percussionist Demi Garcia Sabat and myself on cello. We may well have a guest or two in there as well.
This project grew out of the music I learned while I was living in Jerusalem – classical Arabic repertoire, Turkish and North African music, folk music from around the region, and particularly the music of Algerian pianist Maurice El-Medioni, now in his 80’s, and a name little known over here, but a legend in the Middle East for his fusion of Algerian chaabi with Latin rhythms and gypsy jazz flavours into a very unique sound. Check out his CD Piano Oriental or Café Oran on Piranha Music label.
2nd March - Spectrum
Exploring the possibilities of stringed instruments in jazz, we will also have innovative and dynamic Spectrum group on 2nd March – an improvising string group featuring Richard Jones on violin – definitely a name to watch out for – he has been described by NME as ‘a violinist who makes his instrument sound sexy’……..and, well…..I can only suggest coming to check that one out for yourselves!!!
5th March - Emilia Martensson and Alice Zawadzki.
I was at their joint gig earlier in the year at the Green Note in which they presented a thoroughly beautiful evening of folk songs Poland and Scandinavia, and it struck me as a tragedy that such a programme should not occur again, so I have asked them to do a repeat performance. Two wonderfully expressive, sensitive and imaginative vocalists exploring songs of love, exile, sorrow, and joy - all common human states explored through the songs of different culture - should be a very special evening!!
Further information and full listings of all dates are HERE
Entry to gigs only is £5
Also available is Nolias11 £25 Dinner and Jazz package, including a two-course meal of ( highly recommended) Malayan food in the restaurant, followed by entry to the gig.
All gigs start at 8:30