REVIEW: Paul Booth’s Patchwork Project featuring Jacqui Dankworth at Pizza Express Jazz Club

L-R: Paul Booth, Giorgio Serci, Jacqui Dankworth,
Daide Mantovani at Pizza Express
(out of shot: Rod Youngs and Satin Singh)
Photo supplied by Patchwork

Paul Booth’s Patchwork Project featuring Jacqui Dankworth
Pizza Express Jazz Club, 29 August 2018. Review by Sebastian Maniura)

On a rather dull evening in Soho, Paul Booth’s Patchwork Project featuring vocalist Jacqui Dankworth created a warm and welcoming atmosphere with two diverse sets in the basement at Pizza Express. This talented group seamlessly glided through jazz, reggae, Celtic folk and more, making for an integrated and compelling performance. The night consisted of songs from Booth's Patchwork Project Volume 1, released in 2015, and new material, some of which will doubtless be featured on Volume 2 when it appears... The 2015 album was a move by Booth to "explore what's out there". Taking suggestions from colleagues and fans on social media, it became something very different to anything Booth had previously released. The performance possessed the variety and vitality that the album was seeking to capture.

Playing flute, piano, tenor and soprano saxophones, Booth’s technical ability was striking. Songs such as Miles from Nowhere and Wye Aye saw him alternating between multiple different instruments, taking fast, intricate solos on sax and flute, then jumping onto the piano to accompany the rest of the band. He introduced the songs in an amiable manner, often explaining the background to his own compositions. Confident but unassuming, Booth made the audience relax into the evening and feel at home. Jacqui Dankworth’s voice was powerful and expressive. In There Was a Time and The Windmills of Your Mind, Dankworth explored the emotional range of the songs which, in turn, showed off her own expansive vocal ability. Guitarist Giorgio Serci, who often accompanied  Dankworth during the calmer moments in the set, used both an electric and acoustic guitar to exhibit his full tonal palette. Alternating between dramatic flamenco inspired introductions and steaming blues inflected solos, Serci encapsulated each style in which he played. Similarly, Dankworth kept her own authentic sound, always respecting and honouring the style she was singing in but never pandering to, or caricaturing, it.

Laying it down at the back of the stage on kit, Rod Youngs was supremely tight and seriously funky whilst Satin Singh added texture on percussion, never overcrowding the songs. His simple yet effective patterns on tunes like Twitterbug Waltz and Bo Joe gave space for Davide Mantovani’s ferocious runs and fills on bass, whilst keeping the groove consistent and effortless. In the more restrained songs, such as The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Red Rock, Youngs’ brush work was light and sensitive, keeping the groove sizzling below the surface. Playing both fretted and fretless bass, Mantovani locked in with Youngs perfectly on numbers like Pipe Dream. The round, warm, elastic tone of Mantovani's fretless playing on There was a Time and Lemanja lent a lovely smooth rounded bottom end to the sound.

Drawing on multiple styles and influences without appearing contrived or rootless is a difficult thing to pull off. However, the band of sensitive and inspired musicians made sure that every twist and turn the music took hit the mark, feeling authentic and true. The uplifting final number, a cover of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry, exhibited all that worked so well about the band. The joy with which they played together, the technical brilliance of the soloists and the power that such a sparse groove can have, easily made one forget the drab weather outside.

Line-Up:

Paul Booth – Soprano and Tenor Saxophones, Flute and Piano
Jacqui Dankworth – Vocals
Giorgio Serci – Guitar
Rod Youngs – Drums
Davide Mantovani – Bass
Satin Singh – Percussion

LINKS: Paul Booth's Patchwork Project Volume 1
Pizza Express Live

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