REPORT: Free Weekender launches busy new autumn season of Live at Zedel

Pete Horsfall, whose EP launch is at Zédel on 8th September

Sebastian writes:

The past weekend had no fewer than eighty performers in the performance spaces of Brasserie Zédel. The ‘free weekender’, the launch of the new ‘Live at Zédel’ programming, consisted of free-admission but ticketed events which had sold out quickly. The idea was to give a taster menu of the range of programming that will be on offer at reasonable prices throughout the autumn.

That was the message the venue and the promoters want to give. This ideally-located central London space has come of age, and is going to be having regular music - and cabaret, and drama, and other events - not just in the intimate Crazy Coqs space, but also in the brasserie. As Alex Fane explained to me, there is a wide "spectrum of entertainment" on offer.  The venue wants to go against the prevalent trend in Soho towards exclusivity, closed doors, private members clubs and the like, and be both affordable and accessible.

I attended one of the sessions, a seventy-five minute set compered by Jay Rayner, which featured either one or two songs from Pete Horsfall – he has an EP launch this Thursday at 7pm (bookings). It also had appearances by Anne Reid (photo below) and other actor-singers including the dynamic Anna-Jane Casey. A trio led by pianist Will Barry was dealing extremely well with the wide range of material and performing styles.

Pete Horsfall is one of the Kansas Smitty's line-up, all of whom have grown in stature through the experience of regular gigging, as their popular programmes have been been booked all over London and the South-East again and again. Horsfall, in particular, has a far more compelling, convincing and assured stage presence than when I last heard him about a year ago.

THE JAZZ PROGRAMMING

Under the new regime, the proportion of jazz in the total offering will go down; but because there will be far more shows on offer, the amount of jazz on offer will go up.

*There is a substantial programme during the EFG Jazz Festival with either three or four shows a night (full listing here).

*There is a week-long residency for Jane Monheit in December.

* An ‘early late show’ twice a month hosted by Tina Edwards. The first show has Ashley Henry's trio.

*There are artists who will become regular residents such as the Kansas Smitty’s, the lively Australian sibling-duo The Hamiltons, the manouche guitarist Kourosh Kanani, and Reuben James (29 September).

* There are premieres such as a first-time collaboration between Clare Teal and Jason Rebello.

* There are other singers: Claire Martin and Ian Shaw have a duo show, for example.


OTHER THINGS THAN JAZZ

* One of the venue's best-selling series this autumn is their food series, featuring, for example Jay Rayner and Grace Dent.

* There is a residency of the Philharmonia Orchestra, mainly in the form of string ensembles, trios to sextets – but on 29th January, the entire orchestra will appear in the Brasserie.

 * The arrival last year of Alex Fane, who runs the music side of United Agents, has been one of the drivers of the programme. The connections between music (and jazz in particular) and theatre is shaping some of the offering. For example, one of the performers I heard on Saturday is the actress Anne Reid, and she announced that a new CD – her first – which she has made with Sir Derek Jacobi, and aimed at the Christmas market, will be launched later.

Anne Reid (right) 

LINK: Live at Zedel calendar
PDF of glossy printed programme

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