Sean Khan ft. Heidi Vogel and Omar @ Ronnie Scott’s 8th February 2016
A very slim, slightly shy-looking man steps on the stage, saxophone in hand, looking almost uncomfortable by the great applause he is receiving, he looks up towards the audience and starts playing. The rest of the band follows. That man is Sean Khan, alto saxophonist, SK Radicals leader, innovator and overall jazz improviser.
And on the night, Sean has in store two treats for the crowd, one is smooth London vocalist Heidi Vogel and supreme “maestro” of soul/funk Omar.
Stars are shining bright tonight, one could forgive Sean Khan for just stepping onto the stage and just simply…. starting to play. Everyone is paying attention, all is quiet: listening attentively to Andy Noble on keys – a strategic and yet softly perfect approach to playing the piano. Loving every note.
Sean introduces the band as “being friends”, this is clear. Then track 3 hits us, “What has jazz become?” – Heidi Vogel arrives on stage and her soft but deep voice opens up memories of times and lands hidden in the recesses of one’s mind. Her vocals warm up as she sings on.
Another great guest is ready to come on: Omar, “the coolest of the cool”, “the guy that doesn’t need any intro” to present us with a Roy Ayers gem “Everybody loves the sunshine” sung with panache, simplicity, a real groove.
For the fans of Omar AND Javone Prince…. “you gotta love that guy”…. uhm yes!
And Ms Vogel’s voice as it accopamies the great Omar, is sweet, she carries a smile that could illuminate a whole room!
Before the end of the first set, one of the tracks, “Stolen moments”, strikes me as an utterly beautiful piece, Sean Khan plays with heart and soul, a genius behind the face of the modest man. I love the way he plays, eyes shut, nodding, feeling every note.
The second set opens up with an Andy Noble’s solo leading into a funkiesque track “Yes or No”.
“Tranes shadow” – like an abstract art picture, where one cannot see a distinct image, but rather has to build it in one’s head. An image with some shapes, blurred and yet perfect, comes to mind when I think of this track.
The intertwining solos of Mr Noble and Mr Khan are a combo to leave anyone open-mouthed with awe, wondering what next wonders they are going to offer to the crowd.
One of my all time favourite tracks is on the second set list: “Afro Blue”, covered by many, but rendered unique by few, is impeccably played by the likes of Dario di Lecce’ solo on double-bass, Sean Kahn’s indelible creative atmosphere and Heidi Vogel’s soft scatting.
“Don’t let the sun go down” ends the gig, featuring “the Maestro” Omar who has not lost his touch, his voice is like silk. The track which is written by Sean and is on his second album “Muriel” (Far Out Recordings) came out in November last year and is a must listen.
What an amazing amalgam of talent.
Sean Khan: the most fantastic and modest saxophonist I have ever had the pleasure of listening to so far!
Sean Khan – sax/flute
Omar – vocals
Heidi Vogel – vocals
Laurie Lowe – drums
Andy Noble – keys
Dario di Lecce – double bass