After it’s opening just over a month ago, The Blue Arrow has seen a varied programme of jazz musicians, successfully bringing in a crowd of music aficionados into the club. However, this is no ordinary night in the jazz bar, as Lolita Jackson, special advisor to New York City’s Mayor on Climate Policy and Progams rolls in to treat us to some of her favourite jazz tracks, using a style of jazz unknown to me, Vocalese.
Lolita Jackson, aptly attired in a stunning red coat and leopard print dress, informed us that Vocalese Jazz is wherein words are sung to melodies that were originally part of an all-instrumental composition or improvisation. She certainly had a particular flair with this style of singing, and her band also had no shortage of talent. Performing with a band she knows well in this country from gigging at the Edinburgh Fringe, Jackson also clearly admired all those concerned from the drummer to the saxophonist. They sang old unknown jazz tracks, some classics, some had clearly been doctored, as she put lyrics about going to therapy sessions over one thoroughly enjoyable track.
She also incorporates acapella into her set, a track by Liz Wright, Never Be Afraid To Just Be, as well as the classics including It Was Just One of Those Things. A super tight amalgamation of tenor sax, drums and piano kept Lolita sounding fabulous into the night, despite the distinct chatter about American politics from the brash gentleman next to us. I suppose that should perhaps have been anticipated considering her career, and there was also discussion about her surviving the Twin Towers incident.
However, sipping on my Old Fashioned, indulging in the atmosphere of what felt like an underground jazz club, we tried to put our hearing onto selective mode, channelling the wonderful music in the room. Her vocals on their lonesome were nothing spectacular of note but with the backing of a wonderful jazz band and The Blue Arrow surroundings it could have been New Orleans we stepped into for just an evening. A welcomed Friday night escape.
For more on The Blue Arrow and it’s programme, click here.