Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1096

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The Soul Immigrants Ft.Freddie Notes & Ciyo Brown: PizzaExpress Live, Holborn 30/11/19

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With a sold-out show and a rock-solid new album ("Back From The Brink") out on Lateralise, things are moving sweetly for these melodic funkateers who took Holborn by storm with a fiery set full of sweet soul nuggets and funky gems.

Their wealth of experience showed as they engaged with the 'up for it' audience as they laid out their funked up musical goods to devastating effect! Tonight was all about connection and lead singer and guitarist, Emrys Baird, really knows how to spread the love and get his sprightly tunes across and straight into the hearts of good soul loving people.

Sax player Dee Byrne, played a blinder too, channelling a mix of Jackie McClean and Maceo Parker as she tore through their extremely well-paced set, emboldened by the tight rhythm section of David Bouet on drums and Al Gibson on bass and keys, who provided sassy grooves all night - ensemble playing at its best folks! Tunes such as "The Ghetto, There's No Way Out", "Sunk Without The Fun"' and "Up Close & Personal" were all on point - as were the great choice of covers which were interspersed throughout the show. JB's "Pass The Peas" and "Cold Sweat" were both well received. It's not surprising to hear these funk standards getting an airing from these guys as Fred Wesley is a mentor of the band and appeared on a recent 45 of theirs. Great to see the vinyl being snapped up too, as the merch stand seemed to be a hive of activity in the interim.

Part two of the show saw a pair of reggae heavyweights step in, namely Trojan recording star Freddie Notes (who also appears on the new album) and ace guitarist Ciyo Brown. Notes is an emphatic and charismatic performer who goes straight for the heart and soul of an audience. He shows no signs of slowing up either, as his energetic ska-reggae vibe took over, as tables were left and dancing in the rammed floor space began. Alton Ellis, Freddie McKay and Ken Boothe all got a musical mention in a rocking little medley that gave way too his biggest hit, "Montego Bay. Notes held the audience in the palm of his hand as he told stories about his vast experiences. He cackled like a hyena as he regaled stories about eating two chickens with the Berbers in the desert, trying to hide his burping and drinking the finger bowl! Life-affirming stuff! Then leaving the crowd wanting so much more after a blistering rocksteady version of "Satisfaction".

The relatively new Holborn venue is certainly picking the right acts, teaming up with all sorts of promoters, such as Mayank Patel (who runs Hampstead Jazz Club) as witnessed tonight. The sound, too, has always been top-notch. Another great night proving once again, London is buzzing with good live music!

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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