The main show at Ronnies on a Friday night: picture the scene, I arrive to watch the boys that put danger back into jazz for the second show… this starts around 23.30. It’s busy, very busy, so much so that it is a sell out; well both houses have sold out in fact. As I had tweeted a day or so before the show, it was time for this writer to go and see KS live since it had too long, far too long.
The band plays live like there is no tomorrow: 8 members of the band taking the whole space on the Ronnie Scott’s stage: there is Giacomo Smith on alto and telling jokes that were not always captured by the audience, but, hey, what does it matter, he is a clever and talented musician, then there is Pete Horsfall on trumpet AND vocals, a sheer pleasure and still “the most delicious voice this side of the universe” (my quote for my review of their gig 2 years ago at Ronnies), there is also drummer, ever smiling Pedro Secundo (in Spanish this means second… but Pedro is definitely second to none!), Joe Webb on piano excels playing slick solos, Adrian Cox on clarinet and vocals is superb.
“Chilanga”, a recent composition by the band is amazing, whilst “Don’t forget to smile” which sees Pete Horsfall singing is a sheer beauty. Horsfall’s grace and tender performance is a gem to witness, one could never tire of listening to his singing.
“The Catch” featuring Joe Webb on piano is a clever piece. There is often talk about Saratoga on the track “Take me home” where Adrian Cox sings. Smooth, upbeat, prohibition time this isn’t, it just stirs into a groove and the crowd love it, in fact they want more. Giacomo asks for their “participation” often in fact, he is good with the crowd, skilful to know how to narrate little stories and tells the audience about an occasion when poor Pete Horsfall got to the airport a day too early.
Theon Cross features on a tuba solo towards the end of the show: I am not alone to say that his playing was unique, a dark and at times menacing sound, Cross made it sound ok in the end.
“Party, Party, Party” a fast tune, with crowd’s participation de rigueur, is almost on a par with the beautiful 1934’s Hammerstein track “When I grow too old to dream” sung beautifully by Pete Horsfall.
The audience is attentive throughout the show, wanting to dance, and people standing in the area in front of the bar, which is the space given to people when it is a complete sell out, means only one thing: Kansas Smittys make the perfect concoction of jazz, soul, blues (not just good cocktails!…) and if you don’t understand that, then you haven’t been to their bar yet!
Personnel: Pete Horsfall: trumpet /vocals; Adrian Cox: clarinet/ vocals; Giacomo Smith: alto sax; Theon Cross: tuba; Dave Archer: guitar; Joe Webb: piano; Ferg Ireland: bass; Pedro Secundo: drums
Words: Erminia Yardley
Photos: Carl Hyde
Last modified: July 15, 2018