On Wednesday night I went to the Wardrobe with some friends from the Jazz and Blues society to see Soweto Kinch play live. He’s a sax player, but one of the few to have successfully integrated rap and hip-hop with jazz. His style is unique and almost totally incomparable with any other jazz artist. His music is widely appreciated and his gig was recommended to me by a friend as a must see. He plays regularly at the wardrobe and entrance prices are very reasonable for all who want to check it out.
Normally when the wardrobe is setup table style (with tables and chairs on the dancefloor instead of it being empty and all the seats around the edge) you can expect a smaller crowd however by the time Soweto and his band took to the stage the club was absolutely packed. We had secured seats near the stage and it was a good job too as I swear some people ended up beng to far back they wouldn’t have seen very much.
The set started with a really funky bit of jazz with Soweto’s skill on the saxaphone shining through immediately. As part of the first number we were also treated to a taste of his mc’ing talents. It’s amazing how well this stuff goes with jazz. Die hard fans would never have thought it, but Soweto on the mic with a bit of jazz backing really makes you form a new opinion of the hip-hop style of music. It’s both rhythmic and musical, and soon has you feeling the music from the ground up.
I first got my taste of what hip-hop and jazz is like when I saw Us3 play at the jazz cafe. I’t hard to say who’s better than who, but there is certainly a lot of good comparisons to be made. Whats so refreshing about Soweto Kinch is how he focuses on the importance of the music the whole time with two of his live pieces actively taking the piss out of the money orientated conventional hip-hop scene and how it really doesn’t matter because its making the music feel alive and in touch with the audience that counts – Soweto did this perfectly
The first half of his set was very much getting the audience used to the musical style and the second half is where it all really kicked off as he told us the story behind his album, the area he lives in Birmingham and the people he knows on a day to day basis that each have a story to tell through his music. I love music that tells stories and with Soweto’s music it’s amazing how you can really feel the story when you hear the music. Without a doubt the best jazz orientated track of the night was “The house that love built”. Both the story behind the song and the music it’s self has to be heard to be belived. If you need just one reason to buy his album then this song is it.
To finish his set (amid huge cheers, its the encore by this stage!) he did a freestyle piece. Throughout the night he had people send pictures they’d taken on their phones to a pc and then for the freestyle piece he put them up on the screen and did a personalised rap piece just for us at the wardrobe. It was a brilliant bit of mc’ing and something that had the whole group of us cheering.
Quite simply you don’t know you’ve been born until you see Soweto Kinch live.