Meticulously crafted emotional dramatic jazz lashed with classical soundtrack / hip-hop elements to create great urban modern yet timeless soundscapes. In many too many words a description of what you can expect from Newham’s melancholy mastermind, though language was unnecessary when Alfa plonked into his seat at the keys, all instruments concentric upon his sturdy foundations.
I spent most of the concert in a hermetically sealed trance examining my eyelids, peeking out between waves of blessed euphoria and strange nostalgic relivings of childhood memories in the form of monochrome vignettes. My vice of choice for the evening was a potent heady mixture of citrus tobacco (of the lettuce variety) and Red Stripe (in healthy moderation of course, for posterity), the combination of which left me pleasantly lost in Escher labyrinths of sonic tapestry, unrolling scroll-like across great cathedral walls, endless like some mad writer churning out beat prose on a heavenly rhythmic typewriter.
The standout track of the evening was certainly“Breathe”, a cut from Alfa’s 2017 LP “Antiphon” ; each successive solo blowing the last out of the thick sticky jazzwater but the players all digging each other like long-lost family at long last reunited by the soul cleansing powers of music. Bassist Kaya Thomas-Dyke stunned all with inhuman bass+vocal multi-tasking, low end funky and warm with daresay angelic Billie Holiday brilliance atop the organised throng of sound. The drummer finally given his turn to swing teased with bludgeoning hip-hop headbopping and out of supreme nowhere before sublime return to theme he slipped in the infamous “In The Air Tonight” fill and left the room reeling. I felt like a friendly hyena already full just there to laugh and enjoy in pure pursuit of leisure and the distant hope of sonic enlightenment.
The band played impeccably and earned the sweat of the crowd (I regret wearing a fur-lined jacket- small room, many bodies), the music richly layered and controlled yet loose and exciting, The audience was responsive and respectful and roared at all the right moments, at times leaving the musicians in shocked humility bowing mid-solo. There were some conversation artists but fortunately for me jazz sounds great with a bit of garbled indecipherable chit-chat acting as nostalgic café ambience.
I left the establishment high on jazz purity with hard staccato rhythms chopping the back of my skull up as I skipped and frolicked feeling fresh and rejuvenated. Well worth the 3hr commute, and at £13 a ticket!! Such bargain in this age of gross extortion it would be a cardinal sin not to snap your jaws at the opportunity to experience such monumental brilliance. I hate to be the sycophant but I was so goddamn pleased with the entire evening that I had to express it somehow, whether through mad coyote howls or western whistles or just general jives n shouts.
It’s a no-brainer if Alfa Mist is in your area, regardless of your musical tastes and opinions. Don’t miss out.
Words Brad Ford