REVIEW: Julien Hucq Quintet in the Jazz Cafe at Jackdaw London

L-R: Esben Tjalve, Andrea Di Biase, Yann Dumont,
Dominic Ntoumos, Julien Hucq 

Julien Hucq Quintet
(Jazz Cafe at Jackdaw London. 8th October 2015. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

East London has a new jazz address. 201 Lower Clapton Road E5 is the home of "East London’s first Jazz Café". It's new. Proprietors Ash and Angela first opened their doors very recently, on the (glorious) 12th of August.

It has that refreshing, completely energizing feel of a start-up about it, and Angela (from Yorkshire) and Ash (orignally from Guyana) are around, being helpful, welcoming, fixing things. They told me the permanent sound system and lighting rig will be installed at the beginning of next week, The couple have taken over the site of a milkshake-and-burger joint called Cave of Plunder. and turned it into a restaurant upstairs and and an intimate downstairs music venue seating about 30 down below.

They found their head chef Joshua Dalloway, originally from Oxfordshire, through spotting him on Alex Polizzi's TV show Chefs on Trial.

The music policy is to have something different on each of the seven nights of the week. Drummer Corrie Dick has a residency on Fridays, and will hold his debut album launch there. Marek Dorcik hosts a jam session on Mondays, and so on. Ash himself turns into DJ Ashworth for the Saturday disco. He is a vinyl aficionado, having once run a stall in Wood Street market in Walthamstow.  Music normally ends at 11pm, the licence is until midnight.

Thursdays are billed as "Music from around the world." I heard the first ever UK appearance of Julien Hucq, an alto saxophonist in his early 30s originally from Charleroi and now based in New York. A former student of Antonio Hart at Queens College, he is a fluent improviser. The group  presented a programme mostly of Hucq's originals.

Of the four other members of his band, two were adoptive Londoners who had been drafted in, and both of them were bringing their professionalism and energy to unfamiliar music, a reminder of quite how high standards are in London. Pianist Esbjen Talve, on the venue's electric piano  was finding some particularly appealing and well-fitting countermelodies for Cedar Walton's Bolivia. Bassist Andrea di Biase was underpinning some complex charts and playing eloquent solos. Belgian drummer Yann Dumon was impressive and lively too. Trumpeter Dominic Ntoumos entered the fray in a few numbers, but didn't seem to have gauged the volume level required for this small room.

The sign in Jackdaw's window

Jackdaw London is opposite Clapton Pond (shaped like a bottle on maps),at 201 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EG. There are no fewer than six bus routes from Hackney Central Station. WEBSITE. .

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