Sarah Weller Band & Azymuth @ Ronnie Scott’s

3rd March 2015

Words: Erminia Yardley
Photos: Carl Hyde

Sarah Weller Band is a new jazz quintet led by singer Sarah Weller, who is no newbie to the music scene, and more in particular, to the funk and fusion scene. She has collaborated with Hed Kandi, and commissioned remixes for her album with the charismatic Nicola Conte as well as producer Mr Mundy. Her love of singers and jazz clearly stands out on the new album.

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Sarah Weller Band is:
Sarah Well – vocals
Simon Golding – guitar
Arthur Lea – piano
Jules Jackson – bass
Simon Pearson – drums

Tonight’s crowd is a mixed crowd. An expectant one. And quite rightly so, as the band steps on to the stage at precisely 7pm, Sarah, looking resplendent in a beautiful vintage décolleté dress, opens the show with “Never was Love”. Sarah’s voice is soft yet deep with velvet tones. She is charm personified and her singing adds a breath of fresh air to an already promising night of funk and fusion.

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“Sarah’s hair reminds me of the Pre-Raphaelite tresses” – Bob Sinfield, JazzFM presenter extraordinaire, told me recently. And he is right of course. Sarah’s singing mixed with an incredible look is something that needs to be experienced live for sure.

It’s always fascinating to listen to talented voices. Sarah’s is just that, hers is the talent that brings the band together although credit also has to go to Simon Golding for all arrangements on the night.
Top musician of the night: Arthur Lea for skilfully moving from his Fender Rhodes to a “normal” piano keyboard with such dexterity and ease whilst creating a good groove, whether slow or up tempo.
Outstanding tracks: “Love Dance” – a mellow, tender song with great support by Simon Golding’s guitar and “Stormy”, which closes the band’s show and which is, by far, a beautifully melodic tune and also my favourite track.

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Looking forward to more Sarah Weller Band compositions in the future!

“Stormy” (Daisy Dog) is out now on digital download // Physical release: 16th March

www.sarahweller.com

After the support of Sarah Weller Band, there is a short break at Ronnies. The stage is then prepared for the arrival of those veterans from Brazil who have endured the test of time and are playing at Ronnie Scott’s for two nights (2nd and 3rd) this month.

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Ivan ‘Mamão’ Conti on drums, Alex Malheiros on bass and Fernando Moraes on keyboards (replacing the late José Roberto Bertrami), together they are the monsters of the funky soulful jazz samba sound, the “samba doido” (crazy samba).

They are: Azymuth, the Brazilian trio starting back in 1973, they have arrived to 2015 proving that age is really just a number.

Originally playing in different groups, they formed a band called Selection Group, playing various nightclubs in Rio de Janeiro, mixing jazz, samba, funk and rock and also began their collaboration with various singers and orchestras.

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By 1975, they mutated into Azymuth, whose name was born out of a collaboration with the Brazilian producer and songwriter, Marcos Valle. Azymuth (their original spelling was Azimuth) was the name of one of Valle’s songs.

To be at Ronnie Scott’s on any given night, one will know how buzzing the atmosphere is, but on the last night at this iconic venue, Azymuth have raised the bar. The crowd comprises of true fans and when the Conti, Malheiros and Moraes step on to the stage, there are heartfelt cheers and applause.

They are, after all, the masters of fusion.

Once they have started playing, the unity and rhythm they bring on the night is moving and uplifting at the same time.

“In my tree-house”, for example, a track which would lift anybody’s spirit especially in our beloved London town with such cold and grey skies! Azymuth have chased the clouds away and are off to a great start. The track is funky and invigorating to the point where I am sure quite a few of us in the audience would love to stand up and dance!

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Then there is “Manana” (Morning), everyone is nodding their heads in approval of yet another funky tune.
How can these guys, who have a 40 years career on their shoulders, be so cool and down to earth?
After the death of José Roberto Bertrami in 2012, the band has continued working hard, touring and spreading the love of their jazzy samba music.

Ivan Conti is a devil on drums, he seems possessed throughout the evening, looking across at Alex Malheiros on bass, their muted understanding is a joy to behold.

“Jazz Carnival” is played as the first encore of the evening. The crowd is delirious.

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In today’s age of fast downloads and easy tunes, it is simply marvellous to listen to a band who can just revel in the pleasure of giving the audience the perfect potion: a jazz infused samba groove.

Respect!

www.azymuth.net

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