HKB FiNN Ensemble – Jazzmo’thology @ Club 414

HKB FiNN Ensemble – Jazzmo’thology @ Club 414 feat. Lionheart & The Edison Herbert Trio 8-06-14

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HKB FiNN
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Sunday, 6 June 2014, Ra Hendricks brought together three extraordinary acts to perform at the first of his originally conceived ‘Jazzmo’thology’ series of concerts at Club 414 in London. The headline act HKB FiNN waited patiently, observing intently from the wings before he and his ensemble took to the stage. The enlightening and diverse tone of the evening was set by one of the U.K.’s own up-and-coming spoken-word artist ‘Lionheart’.

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Lionheart – Spoken Word Artist
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Lionheart is that rarest of young men, a man who is not afraid to express his feelings and emotions publicly – in Lionheart’s case via the medium of spoken word and poetry. Having been warmly introduced by our hostess Lisa Lore, Lionheart performed four very deep and thought provoking pieces, with topics ranging from ‘love from a distance’ to ‘unfaithfulness.’ His eloquence, posture, insightfulness and delivery were very refreshing, and he definitely deserves wider exposure.

On stage next to entertain us was The Edison Herbert Trio. Edison’s smooth, languid and relaxed style of guitar playing has overtly similar overtones to one of his foremost influences i.e. Mr Wes Montgomery. Not really one for words, Edison let his guitar do the talking, ably assisted by his two accomplished musical cohorts, Winston Clifford on drums and Neville Malcolm on double bass. The synergy and mental telepathy between the three of them was evident to all as we were treated to eight tracks in total of sublime and wholesome Jazz music.

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Neville Malcolm (double bass) – Edison Herbert Trio
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Their set was rounded off with a stylish version of ‘You’ll Never Know’ which warranted well-deserved elongated applause at its conclusion. I would definitely recommend one acquire the Edison Herbert Trio’s new CD at your earliest convenience.
And so to the headliner, The HKB Ensemble featured yet another stellar line-up of quality musicians – Kevin Davy – trumpet, Westley Joseph – drums, Shirley Tetteh – guitar, Andi McLean – bass, Chantelle Nandi – vocals and HKB FiNN – vocals and lap drum.

After paying due respects to both Lionheart and The Edison Herbert Trio, Mr FiNN got proceedings underway with an infectious trip-hop beat tune entitled ‘My Cup’. Shirley Tetteh on guitar, provided the incessant rhythm whilst Westley Joseph and Andi McLean carried the groove on drums and bass respectively. With seasoned trumpet player Kevin Davy inputting his timely interjections, the platform was set for HKB to lay down his intelligent and observational rap flow.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Prior to performing his next song, ‘This City Will Make You Crazy’ HKB FiNN introduced his fellow vocalist: “Now I want to introduce to the stage a fantastic young musician, an amazing singer, and I hope you can give a warm round of applause and get to know her as well as I’m getting to know her musically – Ladies and gentlemen, Chantelle Nandi. Give it up!” Having announced that the next song is taken from his current album ‘Prelude – Urban Roots’, Mr FiNN then took time out to explain two reasons that inspired the song, firstly, the desire of country dwellers to relocate to the city for financial prosperity and secondly, the belief of city-dwellers that new technology is their saviour.

Explanations over, HKB FiNN stepped back and let Shirley Tetteh (guitar) and Chantelle Nand (vocals), fade in the gentle intro before segueing into Westley Joseph’s amazingly tight minute long drum and bass backbeat, before the song fully took a hold with Chantelle sweetly delivering the recurring chorus and Andi McLean holding a constant baseline. Taking his cue, HKB FiNN stepped back up to centre stage and proceeded with the first of his Rap monologues as both he and Chantelle traded verses and choruses respectively on the free-flowing groove.

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Andi McLean (bass)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Now fully in the groove, HKB FiNN introduced a classic tune from his back catalogue, an ode to a love fantasy between a professional man and a woman in different parts of the country who dream of meeting the perfect partner entitled ‘Dreams of You.’ Once again, East London songstress Chantelle Nandi and guitarist Shirley Tetteh provided the honours for the intro, laying the foundation for FiNN’s emotive spoken word lyrics.

The dynamic duo of Joseph and McLean on drums and bass respectively gave solidity to the track, whilst Kevin Davy, who was only partially visible, tucked away in a corner of the stage, could be clearly heard as he offered up some beautifully meandering trumpet tones throughout. Together the HKB FiNN ensemble combined to produce a majestic, mid-tempo hypnotic vibe.

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Chantelle Nandi (vocals) & Westley Joseph (drums)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

The ever consciously aware, HKB FiNN dedicated the next tune, ‘Village Girl’ tr the patient and understanding women i.e. the mothers, sisters and daughters of this world, for putting up with the short-sightedness and stubbornness of some men. The luscious intoxicating groove lured the Club 414 audience unconsciously into collective rhythmic head nods. Kevin Davy’s muted trumpet solo midway through, conveying the essence of the track perfectly. Towards the back end of the track, HKB FiNN led the male audience attendees in a chant of “Don’t give up! Don’t give up!” – A message to the ladies to not give up on them.

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Kevin Davy (trumpet & Flugelhorn)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

The set continued with HKB FiNN warmly name-checking musicians Westley Joseph and Andi McLean as they would soon have to depart for another gig later that evening, before he introduced the third track of the evening lifted from the ‘Prelude – Urban Roots’ album, “The quick story is, I went with a friend to her daughters graduation, and when her daughter graduated she said, “Ahhh! I can look after myself now; it’s all about me.” And I thought that was an interesting thing to say, because, sometimes as adults, because we have so many people that we look after we forget to look after ourselves, because without looking after ourselves we can’t help others. That was the inspiration behind this next piece which is called ‘All About Me.’ I hope you enjoy it.”

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HKB FiNN (vocals & lap drum)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

As the tune progressed Shirley Tetteh was invited by FiNN to carry the tune, and she duly obliged. Her sublime guitar solo was followed by some friendly vocal sparring between HKB FiNN and Chantelle Nandi which gradually intensified as the song rounded out. The final song to feature the complete ensemble was ‘There’s Always Time’. HKB FiNN’s conscious lyrics about the preciousness of time sat comfortably in the wholesome semi-reggae flow created by the consummate musicians surrounding him. After a few enlightening verses, Mr FiNN once more invited guitarist Shirley Tetteh to lead the ensemble with another brief solo, before addressing the Mic and requesting his long-term good friend Kevin Davy to do likewise on trumpet. Kevin duly obliged.

At the song’s conclusion and amidst the favourable applause HKB FiNN apologised for the relatively short set as two of the ensemble were now departing, but that the music would continue after a short interval with a stripped down combo. True to his word fifteen minutes later and now sitting front and centre of the stage with a lap drum betwixt his legs, FiNN flanked by guitarist Shirley and vocalist Chantelle, FiNN then engaged his audience once again.

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HKB FiNN (vocals & lap drum)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

The remaining quartet began the acoustic set with a song called ‘They’re Watching You’. This sumptuous and mellow tune began with Chantelle Nandi projecting her solitary clear and crisp vocals into the ether for a full minute before the other instruments subtly faded in. HKB FiNN himself was reminiscent of Vinx in his heyday as he pounded out a rhythmical beat on the lap-drum while singing his verse. Once the tune was up to speed, Kevin Davy’s, hauntingly wispy muted trumpet could be heard faintly in the background as if he were standing at the end of a long tunnel. Guitar, trumpet, lap drum and vocals all meshed sweetly as the tune built to a crescendo.

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Chantelle Nandi (vocals)
Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

As the evening wound down the quartet performed a refined a cappella version of ‘There’s Always Time’ before bringing the evening to a close with a freestyle ditty which morphed into a thoughtful and worthy tribute to the much lauded and esteemed poet and author Dr Maya Angelou, who had regrettably passed away the day before. Our hostess/spoken word poet Lisa Lore took to the stage to recite one of Dr Angelou’s most pertinent pieces of prose while the band vibed on. All that was left was for Ms Lore to thank the audience for coming and the artists who had performed during the evening. Last but not least she ‘Bigged Up’ the promoter and creator of ‘Jazzmo’thology’ Mr Ra Hendricks who was also celebrating his birthday. Further praise followed with Lisa Lore leading both the band and audience members in an impromptu, soulful sing-a-long version of Happy Birthday, bringing a pure night of Jazzmo’thology to a fitting close.

Michael J Edwards.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Essential Albums:
HKB FiNN – (Prelude) Urban Roots (CD 2014)
Natural Eloquence (CD 2011)

Essential Website: www.hkbfinn.com
Edison Herbert Quartet – My Favourite Tunes Vol. 1
Essential Website: www.edison-herbert.com

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