Zoe Rahman/Jay Phelps Quartet. The Lantern, Colston Hall, Bristol.

Random ticket buy. Smashing venue that I’ve made my second home over the past few months.

I’ve never been to a jazz gig and as I love the Lantern so much (and have seen such a diverse and brilliant array of artists in it) I figured what did I have to lose? Discovering new music, trying new genres of music, hearing talented musicians play, feeling alive again were all parts of the aim of this project. This gig ticked pretty much every one of those boxes.

Tonight was also the One Love Manchester concert after the terror attack there. After that, and the attack in London just last night, going out to a gig feels like an act of defiance. Especially as a woman alone. 40 gigs has always been about a celebration of life (two major surgeries and sepsis in the space of 9 months tends to give you a new perspective) but I feel that even more keenly now.

Zoe Rahman was first on, a virtuoso pianist, playing a wide range of pieces from her own stunning compositions (Fast Asleep was gorgeous), to classical Asian composers to Duke Ellington to I don’t even know what. As an introduction to jazz piano it couldn’t really have been better. She played the piano in ways I didn’t know it could be.

Then. Then. Jay Phelps and his quartet. As an introduction to jazz, boy did I pick a good place to start. The rest of the quartet were all superb (I was in awe of the double bass player) but Jay on trumpet. Just another level. It was the most joyous, life affirming and brilliant gig. I could not wipe the smile from my face, nor my foot from tapping, nor my jaw from dropping. I wanted to get up and dance like I was Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. Perhaps I should have.

They played songs from Jay’s new album (which doesn’t appear to be on Spotify and I couldn’t afford to buy. Grrrr) which was written whilst he recuperated from a broken rib sustained saving his Mum’s dog from a canal (I know, he’s handsome, talented & a good son – form a queue behind me ladies). The sublime Amphitrite, written overlooking the Thai sea and Ethnic were among my favourite tracks. All of them were pretty freaking amazing to be honest.

For someone who has never heard live jazz, nor even heard very much recorded jazz, I fell a little bit in love with jazz this evening. You might just find me in a jazz club sometime soon. Which are not words I ever thought I’d be saying.

22 down. 18 to go.



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