I am not an expert when it comes to jazz music. I hardly know any famous jazz musicians and I don’t know how to move to the beat because the beat always seems off. I do know how to sit down and listen though, and it turns out that’s all you need to do when you go to a jazz gig. And clap of course, but that I can manage.
When my brother and his girlfriend came to see me in London a few weeks ago, I wanted to take them to a jazz concert. They’d never been to one before and I hadn’t been to one in awhile either, so it seemed like the perfect Saturday night activity. While I was researching where to go (Ronnie Scott’s not being an option as you always need to book ages in advance), this jazz club in Dalston named the Vortex kept popping up in ‘Best Jazz Bars in London’ lists. I checked out their website, saw they had a cool looking gig that Saturday night (as far as my inexperienced eye could tell anyway) and decided to go for it. Ticket prices were very reasonable at 15 pounds a piece and I found it a nice change to be able to actually book ‘only’ two weeks in advance for a London venue for once.
The club itself is super cosy; small tables you might be sharing with other jazz lovers, a little bar in the back that serves some decent wines at very reasonable prices (16 pounds for a bottle of house red), and little candles giving the club that intimate touch. But most importantly: the music is fantastic.
That night with my brother and his girlfriend we saw the Chris Laurence Quartet (for those of you who do know their jazz stuff) and it was absolutely brilliant. So brilliant even, the male and I went back there two weeks later to see the Cloudmakers Trio (despite the name, there’s actually 5 of them). We shared our table with a friendly couple from North London and the music was outstanding again.
I guess what I want to say is, even if you don’t know the first thing about jazz, it’s worth giving it a try. Personally I don’t enjoy listening to it on a CD, but when I see it in real life, I love it every single time. I love to see super talented jazz musicians do their thing with so much passion, mesmerising everyone in the club. It’s as if you’re being transported into a different world for a couple of hours. Not a bad thing to do on a Saturday night, right?
One last tip: if you go to see a gig at the Vortex and you want to eat something beforehand, there is a great Jamaican joint just outside the jazz club that does a bloody good jerk chicken!