Off a harsh London thoroughfare, down a small dark side street, through shabby temporary fencing, past the friendly guy on a sofa, up the stairs and into London’s coolest jazz club to hear Finn Peters I went
The Vortex is run by the jazz impresario Oliver Weindling, who also has a remarkable record label called Babel. Remarkable for finding fresh, innovative and young talent, so much of it in fact that one could be forgiven for thinking jazz is more alive now in this country than it has been in a few decades and for that matter more alive than it is in the States.
But back to Finn, for one night only his band lacked the funky bass and instead featured a trombonist and a tuba. Now I am not talking old-style jazz tuba, I am talking the kind of playing capable of making you giggle with farty noises one minute and making you want to pinch yourself as if caught in a waking nightmare the next.
Deep, dark and intense, the playing went. In the break, I chatted with Finn and even he seemed rather caught off guard by the darkness of the first set. “Sometimes it is like that with improvising though. I guess we were in a dark place. Better lighten it up in the next set, he says almost to himself.”
The next set announced itself with a played procession through the crowd and more avant-garde moments but this time the grooves and the exotic influences like the gamelan came into play. The air was heavy with the smell of pizzas ordered from next door and delivered to punters but fresh from smoke in this, gasp, smoke-free jazz venue. The playing was out there and the night was perfect.
Catch Finn around town in you can (his next gig is 13 November at The Spitz) and look out for his new album Su Ling
–Photo by Damian Rafferty–
Pictures of the gig are at Flykr