Ife Ogunjobi, Golden Mean, and Johanna Burnheart Re:fresh 2020 at Jazz Cafe

As published in Jazzwise, 13 January 2020

Jazz Re:freshed’s ‘Sounds of 2020’, presented this past Saturday at the Jazz Cafe in Camden, is an indication of the year ahead, 2020 is going to be very groovy. Opener Johanna Burnheart enchanted the audience with spine-tingling vocals over expressive yet restrained backing from Jonny Wickham (bass), Boz Martin-Jones (drums), and David Swan (keys), appropriately matched to her violin’s melancholy, blues-tinged riffs as heard in ‘Forever Dance’.

Golden Mean, whose EP Through Walls was released Saturday, amalgamated from several established London groups but has a distinct jam band sound. They began their set with an intricate song in 7/2 time signature driven by drummer Matt Davies’ relentless precision and keyboardist Lyle Barton’s electrifying funk. The group’s jams showcased guitarist Luke Wynter’s talent through expansive solos that ventured frequently into the psychedelic.  The allotted set times were too short; Golden Mean’s last song, ‘Rinse and Repeat’, has an ear-worm of a groove written by bassist Tom Driessler, which got the crowd in a dancing mood and hungry for more.

Golden Mean (photo courtesy of Paolo Adamo)

Fortunately, the evening’s closer, trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi, upped the momentum with punchy, piercing melodies with his band John Jones (bass), Zoe Pascal (drums), and Reuben Goldmark (piano). He was complemented by vocalists Cara Crosby and Nathan Mills, who led the audience in a call and repeat of Ogunjobi’s bursts in an accelerated version of Roy Hargrove’s ‘Crazy Race’. Their harmonising duet took centre stage in Ogunjobi’s own composition ‘A Better Place’. Ogunjobi is as charismatic a stage presence as he is a versatile musician, and left the audience cheering for one more song.

Adam Moses, one of Jazz Re:freshed’s founders, reminded the audience that the night’s acts, talented as they are, aren’t an anomaly in London. Largely thanks to Jazz Re:freshed’s work of developing and showcasing emerging jazz talent, there is an abundance of genre-expanding musicians to support in live concert.

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