It’s not nearly dim or hazy enough inside the Blue Lamp for the final concert of the Aberdeen Jazz Festival, but opening act The Zone don’t fail in transporting us far from the shores of the north-east of Scotland. The Stavanger locals play a smoky kind of American/Latin vintage jazz with almost Santana-ish inspired guitar licks, soothing a city which has been so spoiled by an exceptional quality of jazz in all forms over the last few days.
The main act of the evening are the Soweto Kinch Trio, featuring MOBO Award winner Kinch himself – the man whose face has been plastered across the city for the last few months as the face of this year’s festival.
After a day from hell travelling to Aberdeen, the trio waste no time in starting with the seriously impressive Road Block. From Kinch’s opening saxophone note, the trio effortlessly (and exceptionally) trade fourths and eighths all over the shop. Drummer Jonathan Silk and bassist Nick Jurd revel in prolonged playoffs and solos, meeting Kinch’s ever-present sax alongside a selection of backing tracks and subtle delays.
And then we’re treated to one of those rare moments where you witness something marvellously unique, as Kinch puts the sax down to rap. Hip-hop and contemporary free-form jazz don’t sound like good bedfellows, but the trio pull it off in exceptional style. Kinch even takes time out to collect a smattering of words from the audience, freestyling on the mic, followed by a freestyle on the sax.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the night is when Kinch succeeds in getting a largely conservative Aberdeen audience on their feet late on a Sunday evening, making them scream and dance along to something called Stroke the Hippo, which he assures us, is genuinely a dance move.
The crowd are genuinely dismayed by the time the trio finish their encore. This is jazz of the highest order, an absolute treat to behold.