NEWS AND REVIEWS
Pedal steel cosmic jazz-funk doctor Roosevelt Collier serves up a dose of something special in Liverpool, Getintothis’ Peter Guy laps up his magical medicine.
First off, a confession. Up until a couple of months ago this writer had barely registered ParrJazz.
Sure we’d heard of it. It was something to do with Studio 2 on Parr Street and conjured up imagery of a dimly lit backroom bar, all stumpy side lamps on mahogany tables bathed in maroon as brass jutted out the smokey shadows. But had we experienced whatever it was first hand. Nope, we barely let it even register a reminder note in our subconscious. This was ‘jazz‘ – something other; something of a passing interest.
But here’s the thing. To a novice in the jazz world – our record collection consists of Miles Davis (A Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew, On The Corner), John Coltrane (A Love Supreme, Blue Train), Herbie Hancock (Headhunters), Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone best of’s and a handful of compilations – venturing out the comfort zone throws up question upon question – a risk of time; what and who to see and when?
This conundrum must also strike the average gig goer in Liverpool too – perhaps around the country – as jazz is a world you have to immerse yourself in. The mere label itself has connotations to the average listener which is perhaps daunting, if not off-putting entirely. So for ParrJazz to hold their regular evenings on a Tuesday and Sunday – the sell is an uphill struggle from the get go. What exactly are we getting into?
Well, tonight we took the plunge. Our debut ParrJazz experience. And if tonight’s anything to go by, perhaps we should all be jumping right in the deep end.
Yet, dipping into his debut album Exit Music was enough to sell tonight’s proceedings; a thick soup of rubbery grooves, high octane rhythmic nous and a heavy dose of good-time fun. Seriously, watch the title track and dare your body not to fall into it’s syncopated undulations.
By the time we venture into the new home of ParrJazz at Jacaranda Records Phase One (the team moved here last November) the stage is set – a tidy pedal steel is front and centre complete with ‘The Dr‘ emblazoned across it’s frame – and boy, was he about to serve us up some medicinal funk.
From the get-go, Collier winds up his wrists flicking off riffs like a pinball wizard as the front row gyrates in unison. The pace is swaggering as wave upon wave of loose mesmeric propulsions see the audience sway as one; an exuberant couple down the front begin Jackie Chan high-kicking in perfect synchronicity.
Rarely if ever during tonight’s proceedings do any of the players take the limelight unnecessarily; there’s few soloing or individual spotlight grabbing – and when, for example, drummer Armando Lopez takes an extended work out on the kit it’s precision musicality which simply adds to the whole experience rather than descending into stereotypical jazz showmanship.
We can’t help but be thrust back to the first time we saw Prince‘s New Power Generation in action – a supergroup of sorts each excelling in their craft yet forming a holy alliance and working as one – a divine cauldron of jazz-funk-soul and when ramping it up and placing guitar to the fore, the very definition of rock & roll power; on more than one occasion Collier twists his arms back and forth over the pedal steel flexing our heart-strings at one with his instrument.
Later he picks up his guitar and cradles a bottleneck slide emitting raw blues which careers around the venue as the audience emits whoops and howls of surprised delight.
By now there’s wild dancing as a throng of people have are both stage left and right dancing in the wings as bass player Rodrigo Zambrano stands nodding his head while remaining an understated yet assured presence at the back of the set.
As The Dr knocks back a couple of White Russians (take that Lebowski) from a small glass tumbler, there’s echoes of Fela Kuti, John Lee Hooker, Kamasi Washington, Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra and even Beggars Banquet era Rolling Stones – a melting pot of rhythm and blues, jazz, cosmic funk and everything else in between.
Somewhere amid the swamp boogie Dr John‘s Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya is oozing into the mix.
Perhaps most impressive (to our ears anyway) of Collier‘s collective is Jason Matthews flexing a bank of Rhodes keyboards – as he builds layer upon layer of smoldering textures all the while grinning ear to ear as his bandleader trades all manner of guitar licks.
Yet such is the humility of Collier he leaves the stage midway through to let his band (who themselves perform as Electric Kif) jam one out while he stands amid the crowd all the while filming the delirium on his phone.
Despite round trips from Tunisia to London’s Ronnie Scott‘s and bereft of sleep, the energy is cranked up a notch further when Liverpool blues singer Connie Lush joins the quartet on stage for an improvisational work out of Hoochie Coochie Man. It’s a breathtaking performance exuding full-blown passion and throat-rattling blues.
There’s time for a rapturous encore as a clearly delighted Roosevelt Collier promises he’ll be back later this summer before blistering through one final jam which segues into the Jackson Five‘s Can You Feel It.
It’s a masterclass in musicianship from start to finish and as Collier (a refilled White Russian in hand) and his band leave the stage for a final time it’s evident we’ve all witnessed something special.
The bar has been set for gig of the year, and on an otherwise lazy Sunday, it’s just what the doctor ordered. You’d be wise to get acquainted to Roosevelt Collier and the world of ParrJazz.
WE'RE ON THE MOVE!! AND LOOKING FORWARD TO SETTLING INTO OUR NEW VINYL LOVING HOME: JACARANDA RECORDS PHASE !
Great Feature in Culture Liverpool about Parrjazz !
“I don’t like Jazz, but I liked that!” How many times have we heard that?
About ParRjazz Ltd
Liverpool’s Parrjazz was started by musicians in the optimistic atmosphere created by Liverpool Capital of Culture, 2008, and for over 10 years they have promoted top international players: Snarky Puppy/FORQ/Gogo Penguin/Alan Barnes/Dennis Rollins and loads more.
Parrjazz has introduced and supported new players as well as developing venues: Studio2/On Air/Ma Boyles/Frederiks. Parrjazz, led by musicians, is non-profit and supports new talent, from the LIPA guys to those making the move from rock, pop and soul to walking on the Jazz-side!
Several gigs every night of the week make Jazz, in all its forms, a booming part of Liverpool’s music scene. Tuesday’s Parrjazz delivers a storming jam session in Studio2 Parr Street with jazz touring players – they’ve had Japanese martial arts rockers and American proggers playing with students and Liverpool schmoozers.
The menu is wide. Angular free-jazz, early roots, ragtime, classic swing, the coolest cool cats, jazz-rock fusion, prog, funk and trippy youngsters working their way out of the trancey psych soup.
What’s been happening this year?
Summer to autumn in Liverpool has seen spectacular artists. June was kicked off into a dark gothic castle by Liverpool’s own Blind Monk Trio cascading Black Sabbath/Stranglers/Coltrane at Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery; the local vicar sat outside, cigar and a single malt.
The rest of June in Studio2 was a blast. San Francisco’s Paul McCandless with Charged Particles, closing off with a packed house for USA’s finest Prog/Fusion outfit, FORQ, touring their latest record Thrēq. FORQ’s storming acid-jazz rocker Cowabunghole created a jazz mosh pit!
July gave us The California Jazz Conservatory showcasing west coast talent. Nashville’s Suzahn Fiering gave us a master class in songwriting. As August broke, Barry’s Boptet smashed out the best of Be Bop – Herdsmen to Miles Davis. Sax legend Dean Masser carried on the theme. September, had Guitar/Hammond/Drums combo Tobie Carpenter Organ Trio, touring their debut EP Dead Pan Party.
What does the future hold in store?
October is a jazz-feast. Leading UK Jazz talents Brigitte Beraha’s Babelfish on the 2nd, UNMISSABLE Bristopian jazz-trippers Get The Blessing on the 11th (Tickets from See Tickets/Skiddle), Robert Mitchell’s Epiphany 3 on 16th, guitarist Stuart McCallum on 23rd, with the insane Baked A La Ska Halloween Special on the 30th.
November will feature two sax heavyweights – Benn Clatworthy and Greg Abate………… nice!
GET INTO THIS feature us for our June move to Studio 2
With big news comes a big party, Getintothis’ Matthew Wood has the low down on ParrJazz’s move back to Parr Street.
Following a successful stint at Hope Street’s unique bar, Frederiks, Liverpool’s best-established jazz night ParrJazz makes a return to Parr Street’s Studio 2, reigniting an old flame for new beginnings.
To welcome the return, Studio 2 will be hosting a monster launch party with special musical guests, all vinyl-spinning DJ’s and free scran and booze to those in attendance.
Through the years, ParrJazz has consistently hosted world-renowned jazz talent free of charge every Tuesday. Past guests include Snarky Puppy, Benn Clatworthy and Victor Brox who is known to have jammed with Jimi Hendrix in his time, plus a royal host of upcoming youngsters and local veterans.
The launch party will continue in equally commendable fashion on June 5 and will feature saxophonist Chris Rand, a major figure in the world of jazz and blues having toured and recorded with the likes of Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood, acclaimed session-soloist Elliott Randall and members of Ian Dury & The Blockheads.
Entrance to the event is free.