Writer Henry Hanssen / Photographer Connor Pope
The dark and rainy springtime in Birmingham is slowly but surely ending. Overcast and subdued evenings of sitting inside the pub, wrapped in your favorite scarf and coat, are being replaced with relaxing in the beer garden, sipping on a refreshing pint. These seasonal changes mark the beginning of the best time of the year for local jazz gigs: summer.
Warehouse Jazz Sessions in Digbeth are a perfect example of this, and who better to bring the good vibes than tenor saxophone legend, Andy Panayi. On this occasion, Andy was playing with a brand new quartet composed of Josh Vadiveloo (bass), Kai Chareunsy (drums), and David Austin Grey (piano).
A palpable sense of excitement is created from the first tune, a rendition of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Evidence’. Within the first two minutes of his solo, Andy has the audience in a trance-like state, flying around his instrument with eagle-eyed precision.
Andy is clearly well-versed in the world of highly complex jazz harmony, and to hear that demonstrated within the parameters of such well-known jazz standards like ‘Evidence’ and ‘Good Bait’ is a truly wonderful thing.
The quartet are able to execute a challenging set of tunes with ease, weaving through different styles. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought they had been playing together for years.
One of the standout performances is their double time rendition of ‘Body and Soul’, in which Andy takes a lengthy and jaw-dropping solo on the soprano sax. Another is ‘These Foolish Things’ where anyone would be forgiven for mistaking it as a cut off a 1959 Blue Note classic.
The contribution of Andy’s band is not to be overlooked. These three musicians set such a dense foundation for Andy to work with. The chemistry between Vadiveloo and Chareunsy is formidable. The addition of David Austin Grey on piano is grand (if you’ll pardon the pun) his rhythmic, Bud Powell-esque improvisations have the audience hooked.
Hearing these four musicians play together felt more like listening to a single musical entity rather than an ensemble. Once again, Josh Vadiveloo has successfully brought an act who has turned the Warehouse café’s quiet and peaceful hue into a raucous and rowdy night of stunning jazz.
Should this act play again, I recommend experiencing (in my opinion) one of the finest new quartets in Birmingham for yourself.
For more from Andy Panayi take at look at his website: www.andypanayi.co.uk/ap
Details to the upcoming Warehouse Jazz Sessions can be found here: www.instagram.com/warehousejazzsessions
You can check what’s going on at The Warehouse Café here: www.thewarehousecafe.com