Softly, just like a cat, Nubya Garcia stepped on the Ronnie Scott’s stage recently, infusing an already expectant room with a touch of magic.
I am a great fan of the saxophone so I was really looking forward to hearing Miss Garcia. The JazzFM Award “Breakthrough Act of the Year” winner did not let anyone down; on the contrary, she shone bright!
On a very busy and crowded Soho night in London, my favourite bar seat already taken at Ronnies, I made my way to another one, squashed between a very young Garcia fan who kept on drinking through a straw making the strangest noises and a man who felt the need to stretch his legs in the middle of the show and in doing so completely obliterating my view of the stage. A pat on his back and he would sit down again.
The mighty double-bass player, composer and educator Gary Crosby OBE, sitting at the bar, too, conversing with Ronnies’ in-house photographer, Carl Hyde and BBC Radio London presenter, Robert Elms. All set to listen to Nubya Garcia.
With an incredible line up, the young saxophonist delivered a sound show. With fluidity, immense musicianship and poetry, Nubya Garcia played with passion, her eyes closed in utter concentration. Performing some pieces from her last album, “Nubya’s 5ive” (released in May last year on the Jazz Re:freshed label) as well as from her EP “When We Are” (which came out in March this year), Nubya Garcia demonstrated what a major talent she is. The chemistry between her and her fellow musicians was superb. Joe Armon-Jones excelled on both Fender Rhodes and piano, shifting from powerful to melodic notes, he was on top form. Dan Casimir on double-bass, well, what to say about this guy: every time I have seen him play, he brings a sense of new to “new”. His approach to playing is different, always with a smile on his face, Eddie Hick on drums, conjuring up some great solos, but the actual story here is that the whole band was on fire, making music that exceeded perfection. For example, “Source”, one of my favourite pieces on the night, a piece with a great rhythmic start, saw Garcia play like an angel possessed.
So, with a buzzing Soho behind me and a frantic Ronnie Scott’s staff, making sure everything is ready for the next house (show), I left the Club in the cold April air, feeling revived and positive. This thing we call jazz is definitely alive and well and Nubya Garcia is one musician we need to thank for this!