Tuesday 14th July

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Kaz Simmons: Jazz Club Soho

| Music | 07/10/2013

Kaz Pizza Express
Photo credit: Mike Watts

Pizza Express, Dean Street

Kaz Simmons was in celebratory mood at the launch of her fantastic fourth album ‘Signs’. She kicked-off with – of course – ‘Last’ in an arresting blend of jazz-folk fusion. The wordiness of the piece no matter at all; the rhythm of the language and its seemingly onomatopoeic quality music in itself. Kaz dazzled, her silvery shift a musical metaphor: deceptively simple but highly effective. She announced her intention to perform the whole album because “it’s like a little story…” and ‘I Know You’ was indeed story-like. The chanteuse has moved on from the wispiness of her previous release (‘Dandelions’). Kaz’s full use of dynamic contrast was refreshing, as when things slowed to a speech-sung reflectiveness.

The quirky songs were all colourful stories themselves, folksy ditties with a jaunty edge, suffused in an autumnal keyboard palette by Will Bartlett. The first of two about internet dating – ‘London Loves’ – was gentle, intoxicating but indeed “ready to explode”. Clever changes of mood and texture were exceptionally well executed with a gorgeously unravelling ending, collecting and spilling tension alongside great harmonisation from Brigitte Beraha. Its follow-up benefited from a looser and freer style and a grinding beat quite danceable, its gentle fade overtaken by audience whistles.

New album released October 28.

New album released October 28.

‘Signs’ could be a contemporary Richard Carpenter number transformed by Kaz’s speechy middle-eight, quite uncontrived before returning full circle. For ‘If Time Stopped’ Kaz took the stage alone, and it would be wonderful to hear her with just piano or singing a classic like ‘Autumn Leaves’. Backing vocals blended into another soaring vocalise and by this time everyone was lost in the music – including Ms Simmons who held the audience in the palm of her fret-fingered hand. Her soulful rendition of ‘You Belong to Me’ filled the stage to the extent that you forgot she remained solo.

Kaz promised an upbeat second set and she delivered. Quite what’s going to elevate her to the next level I cannot tell but that is exciting. I loved the razzly ‘Dandelions’ in all its Annie-Hall-ish la-di-da-ness. Kaz enthused over Jeff Buckley’s cover of ‘If You Knew’ and maybe this is key: more Nina, less Jeff. Familiar cocktail ivories filled-out its refrain and I enjoyed its dippingly flat Bluesy vocal. Kaz’s joy in performance was infectious not least on the delightful ‘Pachamama’. And her absolutely sparkling rendition of Billy Joel’s ‘He’s Got a Way’ remains as one highlight of many from a memorable and enchanting evening.

Kaz returns to London at the Green Note, Camden on Friday November 15. Catch her while you can: greennote.co.uk

‘Signs’ is released October 28: kazsimmons.com/discography/signs

Kaz’s top-drawer band were:  Will Bartlett – organ and piano / Brigitte Beraha – backing vocals / Tim Giles – drums / Martin Kolarides – electric guitar / Tom Mason – bass

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