The excellent Hideaway in Streatham may be South London’s best-known and most prestigious jazz venue, but in next-door Balham a rootsy, informal scene has also been brewing, based at and around venues such as The Bedford and Bodean’s. The latter, a ribs, craft beer and bourbon joint, has been putting on free gigs on Thursday evenings for a while now, and last night saw the return of one of the venue’s favourite combos, The Duplicates, a London-based Hammond trio of seasoned session musicians who cook up a hot stew of jazz, soul and TV theme covers.
Dave Ruffy provides the backbeat on drums, Matt Percival adds crisp, Cropper-esque guitar lines, and Seamus Beaghen (about to embark on a tour with Iggy Pop, of all people) playing a digital Hammond through a classic Leslie speaker for that authentic B3 sound, provides the meat. The first set kicked off with – what else? – ‘Green Onions’ – and moved through Mod classics like ‘Time Is Tight’ and ‘Soul Limbo’, played with the requisite tightness (these players’ experience and enthusiasm for the music shines through) with some intriguing time switches and ace soloing from Percival and Beaghan. Highlight was undoubtedly a lengthy and bouncy reading of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Wish’, with Beaghan expertly filling out that song’s horn and bass parts and the band distracting diners from their hot wings and nachos.
The second set was more varied, with the band throwing in covers of Alan Hawkshaw’s ‘Blarney’s Stoned’ (better known as the theme to Dave Allen At Large) and Johnny Guitar Watson’s ‘A Real Mother For Ya’, with Percival ably replicating the great man’s stinging lines. They ended with a longer, more intense second reading of ‘Green Onions’ whose relentless groove and exploratory solos raised appreciative cheers.
Given that organ combos led by the likes of Jimmys Smith and McGriff, Georgie Fame, Lonnie Smith and JTQ have provided an entry into jazz for thousands of listeners over the years, one can only commend The Duplicates for keeping the flame alive; hopefully last night’s hugely enjoyable show will prompt at least some members of the audience to begin their own journey into the music.
– Kevin Whitlock
– Photo by Julie Woolmer