A nourishing night of music and conversation, as the monthly Jazz Salon at Foyles turned its attention to the links between jazz and dance, especially in the UK scene. This is such a lovely format – thoughtful, anecdote-rich conversation alongside live music, each sparking off and illuminating the other. The atmosphere is intimate and relaxed, like a late-night radio show; there’s breathing space to allow the unexpected to happen (which it did), and a closeness that grows between speakers, performers and audience – the fact that by the end all three were mixed up together on the dance-floor was testament to a great evening.
Host Kevin LeGendre and dancer/choreographer Sean Graham spoke eloquently about the evolution of Jazz Dance, the emergence of a UK tradition and what lies ahead (lots of YouTube clips to follow up!). Sean’s reminiscence of the first time he saw Jazz Dance was similar to my own – “What is that!!!!!!????”. And fascinating to learn that one of the current hotspots for Jazz Dance, particularly the UK take on it, is in Japan! Bassist Gary Crosby and the house band of absolutely superb young players from Tomorrow’s Warriors brought the music vividly to life – so good to hear classics such as Night in Tunisia and Caravan played with such intention and freshness. And witnessing these standards interpreted through dance – it opens up a whole new layer in them, bringing to the surface something in the music that’s always there but sometimes overlooked; dance and jazz were together from the beginning and this music is eminently danceable. There’s also the beautiful thing that happens when different energies meet – the music, the dance, each feeds off and inspires the other, leading to bigger risk-taking and even greater heights!
I’m left thinking about the power and possibilities of cross-arts connections – how poetry, painting, dance, music and all the arts provide energy for and take inspiration from each other, and allow the unpredictable, perhaps even the impossible, to happen. I think maybe this is what the Jazz Salon is all about.
PS After the shock and gloom of yesterday’s news, this little bit of positive thinking (at Foyles old shop, now empty) made me smile on the way to the gig.