Venue : 606 Club, Chelsea, London
Date : 8 January 2012
Debbie and I had been wanting to go along to a jazz evening for a while and at last the opportunity presented itself. So having got myself sorted out for the week ahead, we were driving from King’s Cross to the 606 Club in Chelsea to see Victoria Newton. The 606 Club has been described as “a basement club hidden behind an elusive doorway”, and it did take us a moment to find out before we were heading down the steps into the venue, taking our places at a table and considering what to order from the excellent menu. We shared the houmous and prawns starters, Debbie went for the steak main course while I went for the salmon fillet, and she finished with a Bailey’s creme brulee while I devoured the chocolate sponge cake.
But we were here for the music, and not only for the excellent food ! Victoria arrived on stage looking stunning in red, right down to the butterfly earrings and her watch strap. She would be accompanied tonight by Tim Lapthorne on piano, Paul Booth on saxophone and flute, Andy Cameron (I believe) on bass, Jorgio Serge (and I am sure that spelling will not be correct) on guitar, and a drummer whose name I am afraid I did not catch at all.
They began with a Gershwin number from Porgy and Bess, a funky version of It Aint Necessarily So, with little solo moments from the instruments as it shuffles along behind her cool, flowing voice. The band members clear from the stage (and head in our direction where we are still eating) for the bass solo, which includes some kazoo (and an orange one, at that) at the end. The next track had a foreign name which I did not catch (this is becoming a recurring theme of the evening), and my knowledge of this area of music could very easily be summed up as being zero, so I cannot provide the detail. It races along with a sway behind Victoria’s high voice singing in Portuguese, rolling through a sax solo into twinkling piano, and through the whole evening these two combine so well. Next up is a song from Paul Booth, the sax player, called Lemanja (which is The Goddess Of The Sea), and he claps in with the drums to start it with something of a samba beat, and then plays high flute to really get it going. It opens up into flowing piano and races on with a tight rhythm behind it, and lots of cymbals. Tambourine comes in as guitar picks through, moving discordant as it takes the piano themeand it ends with swirling flute. They continue with a Brazilian song ‘Remember Me’, which eases in gently with twinkling piano, tapping cymbals and a hard, deep edge. It calms as Victoria sings in, again in Portugeuse, and flows along with a dreamy, summery feel before drifting through a flute interlude.
The next track they play was written by a woman (guess what – I did not get her name) and is called Nalla Das Aquas (I know that will not be correct !). It has a sharp opening then rattles along at an easy pace as the vocals push hard. It opens up and flows, the guitar rolls through high, sharply picked notes against the exuberant rhythm. Then the piano takes over before it fades to a close. And now a song about bananas. Bananera. Funky as it shuffles along below Victoria’s voice. It is another Brazilian one which opens up as her voice rises and the sax follows, moving into a big sax solo against rattling drums and a wonderful walking bassline, the sax really breaking out as the track pushes on. The piano leads into a drum solo, with nice use of toms to change it around. They follow it with another Brazilian tune, Aldela De Oguns (you know by now that is not going to be correct). Victoria’s voice soars as the song rattles along with treble sax bursts, the guitar picks through against racing cymbal taps, and then it comes to a sharp end. Victoria promises Life On Mars sung in Portugeuse to follow in next set.
Back from the break, she sings ‘hello’ to us. Then it is another original from Paul – Aura Of Sound. It shuffles in upbeat, bouncing, with that Brazilian feel and Victoria sings on top of the full, busy sound with the flute gently flowing. The piano twinkles through as the song still rattles along, pushing into sax which develops the theme. And it holds as Victoria encourages an audience singalong. We appear to be singing in Portugeuse. And then it rolls away from that with flute swirling high into high stacatto flute bursts to finish. And we continue with another original from Paul, written when he was over in Perth with Victoria playing gigs – this one is called Firecloud. The guitar cirles and pushes in with a hard edge. Cymbals crash gently in waves. Victoria’s voice flows gently and smoothly on top of the somewhat chaotic sound with the piano rolling alongside it. It is very atmospheric as it drifts on with her voice rising, the track moving into a gentle piano part, full and rounded with a twinkling edge. And I am told I should say the drummer is using brushes for this one, and I reply that I am waiting to see if he also uses mallets. Also this is alto flute. He also uses normal flute. And the drummer uses the other end of the brushes to bring cymbals to an end, as the piano twinkles through, then cymbals end with mallets. Which was nice.
Drive To The Dive is another one by Paul. The sax opens it with a flurry and some sharp blasts. Suddenly everything else rushes in to produce an uptempo, busy sound, the most avant garde sound of the evening so far, really breaking out and pushing. The sax is totally dominating until the track settles down to piano. The gurning pianist looks in pain as he works his way through his part, before the drums take over and rock, leading us back into the sax, and it continues into a sharp, sudden finish. The next song is for all the cat lovers out there – a Brazilian tune about “a lovely little cat”. Victoria sings in with the piano, they add some shaker and gentle cymbal waves, before it taps away with the piano rolling as her voice rises. There is some tambourine from Paul and Andy adds harmonica as the acoustic guitar picks out a part with the piano. The song has a warm gentle feel and some flute adds to that as Victoria meows. She scats with the flute, the hi hat taps in, the bass rumbles and it rolls away with the piano as she sings out, driving to a rounded guitar part which develops into more flute as the track rattles along, then soars before fading to end.
“This is a David Bowie song”. Life On Mars. Just Victoria and the guitarist are left on stage, and they are taking the version from the movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. She sings in Portugeuse alongside the acoustic guitar and it edges away carefully. The track hits some guitar feedback after Victoria’s voice soars out of chorus, during which the words ‘life on mars’ remain in English. It is a laid back, mellow version, and ‘sweet’ says a voice from the crowd as it ends – they are not wrong, it was delightful. They are going to finish off with a bit of a burner which was written for Elis Regina to show she could sing samba, and it rattles away uptempo, full of energy. Their voices are almost screaming at times, as they throw their all into it and Victoria dances through a big sax part which flows into the piano. It moves into more big rhythms from the drums which suddenly settle down, to everyone’s amusement, before the drummer builds it up again, blasts it high, brings it down, and they all join in again, taking it to a sudden sharp close.
They play one more as an encore. In fact, as time is short she says they will be playing one chorus from a track. She sings high with the piano, and there are some cymbal waves as it eases away, drifting melodic with Victoria singing in Portugeuse again. As with the rest of the set, it is very pleasant. The guitar picks out a part against chatter from a couple who have hardly managed to keep quiet all evening, sometimes even raising their voices so they can hear each other over the music, but they cannot spoil the ambience as the track flows into piano and Victoria then sings in again. The excellent drummer is using a brush and sometimes the end of his stick on his tom. And the track fades to a gentle finish, bringing an entertaining evening to an end.