Review: Alice Zawadzki at Jazz at the Crypt
It was so exciting finally to see Alice Zawadzki and her band live and with the packed crowd at The Crypt, Camberwell this Saturday, South London was excited too.
Zawadzki is utterly captivating in every part of her performance. She can tell a story with her eyes alone, so when you add her voice, violin and the band you are willingly transported to another place.
Much of the music came from her recent album China Lane, starting the evening with its lead song Ring of Fire. Next up was Indome Para Marsilia, beguiling in its haunting beginnings, juxtaposed with pure groove. She sung masterfully in Ladino, and throughout the evening managed to sing in English, Swedish and Polish as well.
Zawadzki then moved on to Trochę Mitośći which was our favourite: texturally and harmonically it could be a Lied of the classical world. A song known to Zawadzki from her great aunt in Poland, it tells of a woman wanting the man with beautiful dark eyes. Zawadzki has a voice with many colours in it, folk, jazz, soul to name but a few, and here she starts with a sound clearly evoking the 1950s. Trochę Mitośći then morphs into a beautifully rhapsodic duet for violin and guitar. Who even knew this sound was possible.
Cellist Shirley Smart guested in a number of tunes, including a new song Superior Virtue. The song was a duet for Zawadski and Smart, and demonstrated gifted use of narrative and musical story-telling techniques.
In You as Man the strength of each individual band member was evident. Pete Lee on keys/synth put the Radiophonic Workshop to shame with his epic mastery of the Prophet 12. Alex Roth destroyed it with his solo there too. As did Tom McCredie. It’s a frankly ridiculous band. This is not to omit drummer Jon Scott. He was on it all night, and owned Cat, a song about ‘the soul of a cat getting into the body of a woman’.
She’s just totally on it all. At ease. It is a band that works well together, they know where to leave space for each other, where to sit. It’s a band that’s just right.
There are many more words we could write. But if words were adequate we wouldn’t have the music. You have to go and hear her. There is no genre that isn’t covered. In fact. Forget genre. She is her own new genre.
We’ve now downloaded the album, which you can do here. Naughty us. We really should have done it much earlier.
Her next live dates can be seen here. Please go check her and her band out.
Vocals, violin & compositions: Alice Zawadzki
Bass: Tom McCredie
Guitar: Alex Roth
Kit: Jon Scott
Cello: Shirley Smart
Piano & Synth: Pete Lee
1. Ring of Fire (Zawadzki) ‘The magic and wonder of being being a teenager drunk on cider’
2. Indome Para Marsilia (trad. Sephardic arr Alex Roth, sung in Ladino) ‘A song about a girl flung far away from her homeland, wondering what the world will bring’
3. Trochę Mitośći ‘A Little Love’ (trad. Polish) ‘A lady who falls in love with a man with deep dark eyes. Sung by my great aunt Anna Borey Protassewicz during the fifties in Poland. She recorded loads of songs with the Radio Orchestra in Bydgoszcz and I transcribed with one off an old vinyl of hers and rearranged it.’
4. Dicho Me Habian Dicho (trad. Sephardic, sung in Ladino) ‘From the fifteenth centure, a time when Jews were expelled from Spain, a song of a girl worried nobody will marry her because of her skin colour’
5. Low Sun; Lovely Pink Light (Zawadzki) ‘A song of sunrise in Denmark’
1. Cat (Zawadzki) ‘the soul of a cat getting into the body of a woman and influencing her affections’
2. Uti Mitt Hjärta ‘In my Heart’ (Kraya, arr Zawadzki, Swedish) ‘inside your heart I see your happiness. Within my body I feel your love’
3. Superior Virtue (Zawadzki) ‘How an unfulfilled love is ever the more romantic because it was never acted upon’
4. You as a man and I as a women (Zawadzki) ‘When you think it’s over and you’re not quite sure if you can keep going’
5. You Can Leave Your Hat On (Etta James)
6. I’m Gonna Leave You Where I Met You (Rudy Stephenson/Nina Simon).