With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Nag Champa – EP November 8, 2016


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Nag Champa have just released their first EP and this Yorkshire based British band produce authentic sounding jazz. “Authentic” did I really say that? It translates as bloody good jazz music! I believe that they are all students at the Leeds College of Music. Back in the olden days as my eclectic music taste developed I was very much into jazz funk. As a result I explored the music of a lot of jazz artists; Norman Connors, Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock to name but a few.

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Nag Champa seem to draw their influences from a lot of jazz greats, including some of those that I have come across before. The opening track on the EP, “Slow Me Down” builds up to a very funky workout reminiscent of the Crusaders. Maya Kally’s vocals are both easy on the ear and soulful at the same time. The band are very tight, but I would like to see them play in a live setting to see how well that recorded excellence translates in the live setting. I do have it on good authority though that they are even better live.

Is there a strong market for jazz music these days? Of course there is and the success of likes of Gregory Porter and Jamie Cullum are proof of this. Nag Champa take on Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” on this EP and they pull it off brilliantly. They handle a cover just the way I believe covers should be handled, by making them very different from the original and they take the song in a new direction. “Daydreamer” has a nice dreamy feel of chilled but funky jazz and along with the previously mentioned “Slow Me Down” has lyrics written by singer Maya Kally. I also love the synth and keyboard wig out towards the end of this track which is very Herbie Hancockesque.

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If you like jazz or jazz funk then I am sure that you will love Nag Champa. If you don’t see yourself as a jazz fan check them out anyway, I don’t think that you will be disappointed. For a first release this is an accomplished set of songs and performances which highlights great potential for bigger things in the future. Definitely a band to watch out for. Check them out on BandCamp (where you can buy the EP) and Facebook. Can we see them at Live In Leeds and the Apollo Festival in York next year please?

 

Gregory Porter – Harrogate International Centre – Saturday 11th July 2015 July 11, 2015


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The delectable Catwoman and I took ourselves off to see the supremely talented Gregory Porter in Harrogate on Saturday night. Without a doubt he is an incredibly talented singer. If you see him as ‘just’ a jazz singer then you need to think again, yes he is very much in the jazz field but this guy also oozes soul and he can sing gospel and blues. His band is incredible and could easily work as an instrumental band in their own right. But when you add Mr Porter’s voice to the magical sounds the band produce you have a perfect mix.

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Until tonight I had only really heard the songs from his ‘Liquid Spirit’ album. I hadn’t appreciated that this was his third album! Gregory is also a very talented songwriter. My particular favourites are “Liquid Spirit”, “Water Under Bridges”, “Hey Laura”, “Free” and “Wolfcry”. The pianist Chip Crawford is an incredible pianist and his playing reminded me at times of Mike Garson. In the extended intro to “Wolfcry” Chip slotted in a piece from ‘Peter And The Wolf’ and the ‘Star Wars Theme‘. Ithink my favourite song of the whole show was “1960 What?” from his first album ‘Water’

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Listening to Gregory and his band I was reminded of my days of being a soul boy and heavily into jazz funk in the late 70s. His vocals have a hint of Marvin Gaye about them and the overall sound of Mr Porter and his band was for me reminiscent of Roy Ayers, Norman Connors, the Blackbyrds and especially Gil Scott Heron. I will definitely see Gregory Porter again if the opportunity arises. On top of his immense talent he comes across as a very gracious and humble man. He clearly has great respect for his band; Chip Crawford (piano), Aaron James (double bass), Emanuel Harrold (drums) and Yosuke Sato (Sax). I think the feel-good-factor injected from this gig will stay with me for quite a while.

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As often happens I will end this post with a public service announcement. It is probably obvious, but none of the pictures or videos in this post were taken or filmed by me!

 

 
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