Rising UK Jazz Star Emilia Martensson turns afternoon show into a full-on experience – Live Review at Cafe Consort, Royal Albert Hall, November 17th 2011

Posted: January 4, 2012 in Easy Listening, Folk, Jazz, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Emilia Martensson, Consort Cafe, Royal Albert Hall – London Jazz festival series,  17th November 2011.

Emilia Martensson performs at the Cafe Consort , London UK , November 17th 2011

Emilia Martensson - Rising Star of the UK Jazz Scene performs at the Cafe Consort, London, November 17th 2011

It was a curious experience indeed to walk into an upmarket cafe/restaurant at midday, struggle to get a table in what proved to a venue for ladies and tourists that lunch and yet witness a full-on jazz gig of  an hour and half that could have equally taken place in a smoky jazz club in Paris or Chicago.

But Emilia Martensson and her band delivered in spades. Opening the show with “If You Go Away” Emilia showcased her charming soothing voice accompanied with light touch piano solos as she conveyed beautifully a sort of mournful longing but in a considered and controlled delivery. A contingent of Emilia’s family and friends were present in the odd banana shaped room as she dedicated the song “Something in the Way she moves” to her sister , a song whose lyrics about a close intimate relationship with an extremely melodic and soulful piano as the main accompaniment,  reminded me stylistically of Nerina Pallot combined with the quiet power of Eva Cassidy.

There were certainly a diverse mix of styles in the first set including a song in Swedish about the seasons which evoked the power of nature in its composition; and another with a bossa nova beat where at one point bass and piano played so frenetically off one-another, it was like two pieces string twisted up together, pulling apart to try to unravel the knots but in doing so creating further tension. Somehow the musical conundrum resolved itself in the end. In spite of it being midday, this particular musical piece definitely had me imagining being at that smoky jazz club .  Credit to bassist Sam Lasserson , pianist Barry Green and drummer Jon Scott for bringing that atmosphere.

The final song at the end of the first part of this two set show called “Everything Put Together Sooner or Later Falls Apart” contained a strong message about drug addiction against the backdrop of Broadway style melody. This melody masterly transformed into an off-soul slow jazz funk solo with a mellow bass before bringing the half to a close.

Emilia Martensson and Barry Green on piano at the Cafe Consort, London, November 17th 2011

Emilia Martensson and Barry Green on piano at the Cafe Consort, London, November 17th 2011

In the second set the versatility of this captivating singer was shown again when she slightly altered the tonality of her voice to convey an “easy listening” style while ably covering James Taylor’s “Another Day” juxtaposed by the equally versatile jazz funk piano of Barry Green.

A second Swedish ballad “Krystallen den fina” in 3:4 time revealed an almost child-like pop side of Martensson’s voice and contained a laid back jazz piano melody bordering on classical that was ingenious in its subtlety. Do not ask me for a translation I do not speak Swedish but it was charming

“And so it goes”  –  an intimate love ballad with great lyrics and a gorgeous piano intro and solos played immaculately  – the title track of Emilia Martensson  and Barry Green’s new album brought the whole concert to a close.  

Martensson, already a winner (along with Jon Scott as part of the Kairos 4tet) of a MOBO award is rapidly rising star on the British Jazz scene and this understated but nonetheless musically versatile performance demonstrates why.  In spite of the unusual time and setting on the concert, in spite of the constant two and fro of waiters, I really enjoyed the show. This was also one of the Best Value for Money concerts I have had the privilege of attending. For the price of a pot of tea I came out into the cold Autumn sunshine feeling relaxed and serene. Not many artists can make me feel that way.

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