CHARLIE PARKER’S BIRD & DIZ | London, Jazz Cafe

There are some parker jackets bobbing away in the centre of the Jazz Cafe. Apt, given that we’re here to hear a re-playing of Bird and Diz — the ultimate studio album produced by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Led by Tom Harrison (alto sax), this evening continues a series of Monday evenings celebrating some of the 20th Century’s greatest jazz albums. It’s a neat concept presented in collaboration with multi-purpose art space, Total Refreshment Centre. How does it taste? It tastes good, man. With Quentin Collins doing his own admirable Dizzy on trumpet and the malleable surety of rhythm section Dave Hamblett (drums) and Robert Mitchell (piano) underpinning the interpretations this is a set up as a very interesting band doing very interesting things.

In its new guise, the Jazz Cafe is successfully catering for a multitude of music audiences, many drawn out by tonight’s programme. The older jazz-heads stand back from the glare of the stage lights while younger ears and feet strain for the heat of the musical action. After easing us in with Cameroon, Cleveland Watkiss is left on stage for a solo vocal rendition of ‘All the Things You Are’ putting the venue’s sound system to extremely good use with a variety of beats and loops to sing over. The low end of this same sound system is not as kind to the bassier parts of Alex Davis’ bass which is a little muggy when the rest of the band rejoin Cleveland — this is however a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent set-up and execution of the record reimagined concept.

The Milestones series is not necessarily unique but it does inject another colour into the cheeks of a rejuvenated venue via young, bucking talent. Music to stand to? The tables may be the perch to seek out if you want to take the load off and get the ‘jazz club’ feel, but for £10 it’s a bargain and more than artistically worthy. Next up, Monk’s Brilliant Corners. Bring it.

The Milestones series runs until the end of March. Check it out here.

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