Zara McFarlane's Jazz-Funk Jousts Bite Deep Into The Frost At Brighton's Komedia

Zara McF LWorms 2

The night outside may be freezing, but there's already a decent-sized crowd gathered under the Komedia's notoriously low ceiling as support act Thabo does his utmost to warm them up. He gives a lesson in effortless charisma, and despite appearing with just a pianist in support he easily fills the whole stage with his expansive personality and measured nu-soul stylings.

Zara McFarlane's band play her on in true showbiz style with a piece of energetic jazz-funk, with plenty of space for her to riff and scat. Pianist and musical director Peter Edwards and sax man of the moment Binker Golding toss some trades back and forth with the assurance of star basketball players. Then bassist Jihad Darwish picks up his acoustic and we're off into 'Pride', played as a sultry afro 12/8 groove, winding through the long cascading vocal melodies before exploding into a drum/sax duet of the sort that Binker's been successfully exploring with Moses Boyd. The excellent Sam Jones on kit proves that he's fully up to the job, and the crowd are onside with whoops and hollers. Then there's 'Freedom Chain', featuring plenty of long jam-outs from Edwards on funked-up Fender Rhodes, while the rhythm section deploy a kind of mutant reggae that's hip and tight enough to avoid jazz-funk cliches. 'Allies And Enemies' is delivered with just Darwish on bass guitar and Jones on trigger pads, showcasing Zara's supple, clear-toned and accurate vocals. She steers clear of the kind of gospel-inflected dramatic affectations that are current in some contemporary jazz-and-related-music circles. The results are refreshingly unhyped, personal and sincere sounding.

Zara McF LWorms 1

The band can really play, and a substantial amount of the set is given over to loose, free-flowing jamming over heavy basslines, with a kind of open West Coast Get Down vibe, big-toned angular sax solos, lots of bravura work from behind the drumkit, and a ton of palpable fun and good humour. It's not all groove material – a version of 'Row Fisherman Row' over bowed bass and muted drums and piano gets heartfelt applause from the crowd, and Darwish even gets a superbly creative solo on stand-up bass, egged on by offstage exhortations from the rest of the band. Zara is a warm and friendly onstage presence and when she leads into some co-ordinated song-and-dance participation the whole room joins in. "Police And Thieves' is a sure crowd pleaser, a new track written by Boyd and Shabaka Hutchings extends into another potent reggae-flavoured workout, and there's a triumphant return on 'Fussing And Fighting' to conclude the night.

The set brims over with vibes and joyful, expansive energy. There's a balance struck between showcasing her characterful individual voice while still allowing the communal talents of the band to flourish; Gregory Porter has this down to a fine art, and it'll be interesting to see how the show develops when McFarlane and company return from their upcoming schedule of international touring.

– Eddie Myer
– Photos by Lisa Wormsley 

 

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice stars, Rymden and Jamie Baum for EFG London Jazz Fest

EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice…

The full programme for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila Maurice-Grey vibe up The Vortex

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila M…

There's a plethora of essential jazz nights lined up at...

Read More.....
Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2018 Nominees Announced

Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2018 Nominees …

The nominations have been announced for this year's Parliamentary Jazz...

Read More.....
Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet Video Premiere and Jazz Cafe Debut

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet Video Premiere…

Polish bassist Wojtek Mazolewski brings his acclaimed Quintet to the...

Read More.....
Nils Petter Molvaer lights up Ystad Festival with magical dawn chorus

Nils Petter Molvaer lights up Ystad Fest…

For this year's Ystad jazz festival the spotlight was on...

Read More.....
Now Vs Now, Elephant9 and Geir Sundstøl shine at Punkt

Now Vs Now, Elephant9 and Geir Sundstøl …

As our world edges further into turmoil, the remote idyll...

Read More.....
Ray Carless wows with Windrush jazz celebration at The Vortex

Ray Carless wows with Windrush jazz cele…

The Windrush Scandal has been one of the biggest stories...

Read More.....
Shabaka Shakes Sons Loose At Saalfelden

Shabaka Shakes Sons Loose At Saalfelden

  Though Jazzfestival Saalfelden might not nestle between the likes of...

Read More.....
First Ever Jazz Survey Across The South Of England

First Ever Jazz Survey Across The South …

Following the announcement of the Arts Council England funding award...

Read More.....
Randy Weston 06/04/26 – 01/09/18

Randy Weston 06/04/26 – 01/09/18

Like several prominent African-American jazz artists, pianist Randy Weston, who...

Read More.....
Robert Mitchell Epiphany 3 for EP and tour

Robert Mitchell Epiphany 3 for EP and to…

Pianist Robert Mitchell releases a new five-track EP, Epiphany, on...

Read More.....
Hedvig Mollestad, Jo Berger Myhre and General Post Office shake up Oslo Jazz Festival

Hedvig Mollestad, Jo Berger Myhre and Ge…

When Oslo Jazz Festival was founded, back in 1986, it...

Read More.....
Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer and Paolo Fresu fire up Umbria Jazz 2018

Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer and Paolo Fresu…

This year was the 45th anniversary of Umbria Jazz and...

Read More.....
Cuong Vu’s Change In The Air with Bill Frisell – Video Preview

Cuong Vu’s Change In The Air with Bill F…

The September issue of Jazzwise is out now with an...

Read More.....
Birchall/Cheetham/Webster/Willberg Visit Vortex

Birchall/Cheetham/Webster/Willberg Visit…

Expect a bagful of bedlam when the free-wheeling Manchester/London-based quartet...

Read More.....
Sue Richardson lines up for inaugural Splash Point Jazz Fest

Sue Richardson lines up for inaugural Sp…

The first Splash Point Jazz Festival will take place in...

Read More.....
Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group

Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group

Jazz FM, which is broadcast nationally on DAB and recently...

Read More.....
Musson, Kjær and Marshall set for Iklectik date this weekend

Musson, Kjær and Marshall set for Iklect…

Three of the key figures on London's improv scene –...

Read More.....
Say A Little Prayer: Aretha Franklin 25/03/42 – 16/08/18

Say A Little Prayer: Aretha Franklin 25/…

  As far as monikers go, 'Lady Soul' may well have...

Read More.....
'A Great Day in Harlem' celebrates 60th anniversary

'A Great Day in Harlem' celebrates 60th …

Photographer Art Kane's legendary jazz photograph 'Harlem – 1958', commonly...

Read More.....
Zara McFarlane and Ayanna Witter Johnson for Kinch’s Flyover Show

Zara McFarlane and Ayanna Witter Johnson…

Soweto Kinch's free one-day arts festival, The Flyover Show, returns...

Read More.....
Steely Dan tributes and basses high at Sligo Jazz Project

Steely Dan tributes and basses high at S…

In a week of outstanding musical offerings in Sligo, perhaps...

Read More.....
Maria Schneider and Ensemble Denada meld mystery and drama with McCaslin at Molde

Maria Schneider and Ensemble Denada meld…

  Molde might be a small coastal town in western Norway...

Read More.....
John Zorn's Simulacrum project rewrite radical organ trio template at Jazz em Agosto

John Zorn's Simulacrum project rewrite r…

King Crimson and tech-death titans such as Cynic and Atheist...

Read More.....
Ron Davis lines up with Seonaid Aitken for SymphRONica Scottish sojourn

Ron Davis lines up with Seonaid Aitken f…

Canadian pianist Ron Davis (above left) has enlisted the Scottish...

Read More.....
Christian McBride’s New Jawn and Chick Corea Akoustic Trio create magic in Malta

Christian McBride’s New Jawn and Chick C…

If Valletta's sun-baked limestone is a constant reminder of Malta's...

Read More.....
Tomasz Stańko – 11 July 1942 – 29 July 2018

Tomasz Stańko – 11 July 1942 – 29 July 2…

In 2002, the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko provided an answer...

Read More.....
Steve Coleman & Five Elements floor all comers with Mayweather-style beat magic

Steve Coleman & Five Elements floor …

They say that writing about music is like dancing about...

Read More.....
Archie Shepp, Herbie Hancock and Tuba Titans kick out the cool at Montreal Jazz Festival

Archie Shepp, Herbie Hancock and Tuba Ti…

Canadians are patronisingly characterised in the US as 'over-polite' but...

Read More.....
Wayne Shorter enters the multiverse with album and graphic novel

Wayne Shorter enters the multiverse with…

Iconic saxophonist Wayne Shorter is set to make a dramatic...

Read More.....
Nérija alumni illuminate Jazz Re:fest's Brighton Dome bonanza

Nérija alumni illuminate Jazz Re:fest's …

  Day-trippers pour out of the trains in their hundreds, heading...

Read More.....
Brötzmann Cocked To Blast At Third Brighton Alt Bash

Brötzmann Cocked To Blast At Third Brigh…

The south coast's premier experimental music symposium – the Brighton...

Read More.....
Szun Waves launch New Hymn To Freedom with live dates

Szun Waves launch New Hymn To Freedom wi…

Electronica jazz trio Szun Waves release their second album, New...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin’s big Blow set for Scala

Donny McCaslin’s big Blow set for Scala

US saxophonist Donny McCaslin follows the breakthrough success of 2016's...

Read More.....
PRS Foundation Momentum Music Fund now open for applications

PRS Foundation Momentum Music Fund now o…

The PRS Foundation's Momentum Music Fund has helped the likes...

Read More.....
Beats & Pieces Big Band launch Ten with video and tour

Beats & Pieces Big Band launch Ten w…

Manchester's mighty Beats & Pieces Big Band continue their yearlong...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@ryleywalker he can borrow Danzig's - they are made from spider webs and a bat's rigor mortis
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@studentsofdecay He's a Munster on those drums
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA