Zog Blog - Pizza Express Soho, Official Album Launch / by Elaine Crouch

Gig 2

I was a bit anxious about this gig as the onus falls on the band to drum up an audience early in the week at the Pizza Express. We'd done a fair bit of PR and so the pre-sales were good. I think we had about 70 or 80 there - a mixture of friends, industry people and jazz fans of all ages. It was encouraging to see a good student turn out. 

For this gig we'd decided to ditch the charts and do all the new material from memory. I've learnt many sets by heart before, and ever since the super-challenging Itchy Fingers early-90s charts it's been a relatively easy task! That said, my "One For Big G" and Bheki Mseleku's "Timelessness" are finger-busters, and the first time you do a whole gig "off-chart" is always a little nerve-wracking. By the same token that lends an adrenaline flow that's quite exhilarating and there's no doubt in my mind this music is better when you're not reading it. That's why we learn standards and the old-timers wince when the inexperienced reach for iReal Pro on their phones!

Seb stole the show with his brushes drum solo on my Return To Forever styled samba tune, Alien With Extraordinary Ability. Graham played Rhodes as well as the Steinway and comped with regal empathy, and Geoff swung hard. 

Luc, my favourite live soundman, was not there, but Phillippe did a good job in his place and was happy to replace the awful SM58 with the vastly superior RE20 on sax. Lauren, the manager, was very helpful and personable and I think we kept to the quite specific timings, as Ronnie Scott used to say, "with the precision of a Swiss watch and the cunning of a sewer rat".

Feeling pretty stoked for the rest of the tour now. 

Thanks to everyone for coming!