As published in Jazzwise, 24 February 2020
Celebrating the January release of their EP, Forevermore , Latin/jazz fusion band Naia performed at Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston on Friday as part of the venue’s monthly Grass Roots nights affording young, rising talent a platform.
Taking full advantage of the evening, Naia jammed beyond their songs as recorded on their EP, as well as some creative soul covers. Singer Nadine Assam’s vocals were strongest in lower registers that were at times mournfully reminiscent of Portuguese Fado music but also showed off her jazz abilities with some wading into scat.
The structured portions of songs had the most distinctively Latin sound, whereas the group’s improvisations were jazzier. Drummer Rayan Telleria and bassist Lumai Francisco both led the band between these transitions, which at times sounded a bit disjointed from the tunes from which they were branching off, but made for enjoyable listening nonetheless. Guitarist Charlie Jackson had some outstanding, lyrical solos, a few of which veered into surf rock. His solo in ‘Ela’, deftly incorporated the spare, climbing chords of the melancholy melody, allowing Assam to seamlessly rejoin. Naia covered Anderson Paak’s ‘Put Me Thru’ and D’Angelo’s ‘Betray My Heart’ and made them their own; the latter included subtle synths by Assam that provided light-touch harmonies and did justice to the original.
The stage was crowded with a piano and pillar that awkwardly forced Jackson to stand behind Francisco, but the band still exuded a joyful, communicative chemistry with each other. As Naia continues to grow and refine their multi-genre sound, they’ll surely enjoy larger stages to groove on.