April 05, 2008

Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Showcase 2008

Thursday evening I was down at Liquid Room in Ebisu for Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Showcase 2008 for some live music and DJs. I got there shortly after the 7pm start time and Jazztronik were part way through a live set of electronic-jazz fusion tracks. Shacho of Soil & "Pimp" Sessions appeared on stage for one track to work the crowd and get the evening well and truly started. After that we were treated to a DJ set from what GP called "Tokyo Jazz Originators", which was basically a pantheon of some of the biggest names on the Tokyo club jazz scene, such as Toshio Matsuura, Shuya Okino, Tatsuya Tsunaga, Kei Kobayashi, Raphael Sebbag and so on. Each had a limited time slot to spin one or two tracks, with styles ranging form soul, jazz and funk to latin, hip-hop and electronica, with Shacho acting as the MC.

Next up were J.A.M on stage opening their set with Quiet Fire and New Things before being joined on stage by Jose James, and together they performed Jazzy Joint, Spirits Up Above and a monster version of Moanin' with an amazing drum solo from Midorin. It was a really natural collaboration and they looked really comfortable playing together. A real winner.

GP himself was at the decks next for a great eclectic mix of tracks that went down really well, starting out soulful and closing on a Brazilian note. Sweet.

The final live act was the 9-piece Japanese afrobeat combo Kingdom*Afrocks. It was the first time for me to see them, though I had heard that their live shows have been causing something of a buzz. The start to the set was atmospheric and slow, but they gradually got into their groove and the people at the front of the crowd were certainly getting into the music. Their songs had all the hallmarks of great afrobeat, with the shuffling drums, percussion and driving bass and guitar, that allowed the keyboard player and horn section to punch out their riffs over the top. A worthy addition to the new afrobeat scene and a name to watch out for.

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