The Femi Temowo Trio - Tsolo Bar, London, 11 January 2008

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Friday nights in Herne Hill may be mistaken for Friday nights in Harlem as long as this residency continues. What began in October 2007 continues to be a lively affair that is gathering pace. The Nigerian restaurant and jazz bar provides an intimate setting for an emotive jam session. With an intensive Tom Hanson on bass, a precise Saleem Raman on drums and an impassioned Femi Temowo playing the guitar, there is a definite chemistry. The Femi Temowo Trio - Tsolo Bar, London, 11 January 2008
The night is free but it is worth paying to hear cuts from Femi’s debut album Quiet Storm, and to see the trio’s renditions of George Benson’s Breezing, Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol’s Caravan, Larry Morey and Frank Churchill’s Someday My Prince Will Come or the Beatles Eleanor Rigby. You may be forgiven for thinking that you’re in some exotic cotton club. But Femi’s acute South London accent injects reality. The venue wasn’t packed but so good was the vibrations that people waiting at the bus stop eventually came inside.

Femi and his trio scatted and played a variety of styles of jazz with hints of Wes Montgomery, Jimi Hendrix, soul, funk, Afro-beat, classical flourishes, and Nigerian Hi Life. The trio were open to improvisation and innovation. A member of the audience, Ben from Australia, was invited up to demonstrate his finesse on the double bass.

The trio painted pictures with no words. Clearly possessing a passion for their music, they played with gusto as if impaths for the zeitgeist of the rhythm, making musical talent look like a super power. More space to dance is necessary. With Nigerian delicacies served, and the ambient music, the night presents a relaxing way to end the week.

Report: Fiona McKinson