The heart and soul of Keyon Harrold, jazz trumpeter par excellence and political activist, spill on the Ronnie Scott’s stage with great passion.
At the time of writing, Keyon Harrold will have played his 3 main show gigs at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho, London.
I attended the first night where a mixed audience of old, young, conoscenti and non, filled the club. I was, of course, aware of Harrold’s music and reputation, but had not met him in person, which, in my experience, always makes a difference when listening to an artist’s music. On the same afternoon of the gig, I sat down with him for an interview which will appear soon on these pages.
And the most important message is that Keyon Harrold IS what his music says: a passionate and very chilled man who fills his compositions with his credo which is one of “Peace and Love”, of tolerance and compassion.
With a vibrant first set which opened with the performance of “Voicemail”, a message left by Keyon’s mother on his phone, he refers to her as his hero, his voice full of warmth and love. The track is rendered into an emotionally charged composition for the first few minutes of the show. Harrold’s trumpet is played with strong and enduring vitality, making those notes resonate even more into a room filled with people who, by now, were transfixed. This is followed by “MB Lament” (Mike Brown killed in August 2014 by police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, where Keyon is also from), a powerful composition, both politically and musically.
A brief interval and Harrold and his band take the stage again. Performing tracks from his latest album, “The Mugician”, released last Autumn, the title referring to a mixture of being both a “magician and a musician” (ensued after a conversation with Don Cheadle (of the great “Miles Ahead” film), the trumpeter opens the second set with “Bubba rides again”, a song written for his son, Junior, who is also called Bubba by both his parents.
There is new material, too, like “Love in tragedy”, soft, melodic and piercing. A very different rendition of “She’s leaving home” by the Beatles creates an enduring vision in my mind of who Harrold is: creativity and vision with a heart. I shall never forget this cover version, which, in my humble opinion, is far better than the simplistic original. And then, to top it all off, vocalist Jermaine Holmes joins the band to perform the stunning (and, by far, my favourite track) “Wayfaring Traveler” which, with its lyricism, makes the track an utterly moving performance.
Throughout the gig, Nir Felder on guitar was simply remarkable in his solos, Charles Haynes, perfect on drums and my favourite, if I may say so, was Sherdrick Mitchell, exemplary on piano, like a poet of the keys.
Keyon Harrold, trumpeter with a mission, shone brightly on the Ronnie Scott’s stage, showing not just a charismatic persona, but talent aplenty and, most of all, a humble heart.
“Peace & Love” and more soon please!
KEYON HARROLD trumpet, vocals – NIR FELDER guitar – SHERDRICK MITCHELL piano – BURNISS TRAVIS bass – CHARLES HAYNES drums – JERMAINE HOLMES vocals.
Artist website: Keyon Harrold
Writer: Erminia Yardley
Photo credits: © Carl Hyde
YT Video: KeyonHarroldVEVO
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