A very near-capacity crowd witnessed Clément Régert's Wild Card At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho for their debut at this venue last night, 27th June. And went wild!
This was to turn out to be Clément Régert at his best, matched by the rest of his trio, drummer Sophie Alloway and organist Andy Noble. And fine performances also from special guests, tenor Graeme Blevins and trumpet player Jay Phelps.
Régert showed his mettle and that he meant business straight from the opening of the first set, playing acoustic and electric guitars in his characteristic, highly individual style. And he did not even break a sweat under his equally characteristic Trilby. The unique blend of hard bop, gypsy swing, Latin, Afro and funk Régert extracts from his axes and his band is something to behold. This music is wonderfully unclassifiable, impossible to pigeon-hole. Régert is at once the impeccable musician's musician and a musician with huge popular appeal. Not an easy blend to achieve, and an admirable one.
The material presented consisted of a blend of pieces from Wild Card's most recent album Everything Changes, and newer material. A superb selection, all in all, boasting superb arrangements. Every single piece, and every single solo, elicited raucous and more than well deserved applause from the highly attentive and enthusiastic audience.
Throughout both sets, the ensemble playing was nothing short of fabulous, while the soloing all round just took one's breath away. Régert's own improvisations were never overly domineering, he always gave generous opportunities to his band mates to shine as well - a
perfect balance. Noble was superb on his B3 simulation, there really is little to rival that wonderful sound, and he is one of the finest organists around. Alloway is one of the finest drummers on the scene and more than proved it yet again.
Blevins blew up a storm, both in ensemble and his improvisations, and is someone to definitely look out for. Phelps is established as one of the finest imports from North America on the British scene, but last night appeared visually - and understandably - tired from a far too busy schedule, and regrettably didn't seem to get into 'full swing' as it were until the second set. In the last two numbers he blew up such a storm as to easily make up for everything.
Régert and Wild Card, with special guests, had one moving ever closer to the edge of one's seat with excitement and sheer enjoyment as the evening progressed. And I think it's safe to say that things started off dangerously close enough to the edge already.
Clément Régert's Wild Card At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho was one of those gigs where the brilliance of the musicians was matched perfectly by the joy and delight they generated. Congratulations to Régert & Co. for constantly pushing the envelop in such unusual, unexpected and entertaining ways. What a fantastic gig. And the audience most definitely thought so too!
Sadly, Rainlore's World's Artist in Residence Alban Low was unable to attend last night and illustrate due to being severely ill in bed. We wish him a very speedy recovery.
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