Supper crowd kills the groove at New York jazz clubs
SOME THINGS, sadly, remain the same in the Big Apple. A few years ago, I went to see the great Little Jimmy Scott play a show in New York. The singer with the voice of a fallen angel was performing with his band in a small room and it should have been quite a night. If you’ve heard the man who Billie Holiday regarded as her favourite singer embroider songs with that hurt, heartbreaking, emotional voice of his, you’ll know what I mean. When Jimmy sings, you hear violins. But Scott was playing in a New York jazz club and in a New York jazz club, the musicians are performing in front of an audience who are eating their dinner. For this audience, it’s what on their plates rather than who’s onstage which is the most pressing concern of the evening.
Shows in clubs like these well as putting his own groove on to higher ground with Soul Drums. On guitar is Grant Green Jr, a player with a fine family pedigree and a laidback style of his own.
Put them in a soul-less joint on Broadway, playing the first of the night’s two sets in front of an audience chewing steaks and shrimp, and the show just never lifts off. The musicians try their damnedest not to look disheartened, but the grooves just aren’t there. Green Jr sings and it’s nothing to write home about. house, disco, rare groove, reggae and many more tunes with soul. People dance, hit the bowling alleys and watch some amazing videos from the back pages of the Soul Train TV show.
Soul Train was the show the late Don Cornelius founded in Chicago in 1970 and which was subsequently broadcast all over the United States until 2006.
Aside from introducing American TV audiences to a host of r’n’b, soul and hip-hop acts via some memorable performances (many now re-upped for