Swindon Link columnist Jessica Durston recently penned a review after visiting The Royal Oak for the Jazz Knights Tuesday Live Jazz Sessions, featuring Swing From Paris.
Jazz Knights have been hosting weekly live music sessions for 12 years. The home of these weekly gigs is currently The Royal Oak in Old Town. These incredible evenings of music are free to attend, and members of the public can also book tables to sit at and enjoy the food, drink, and tunes.
This week’s Tuesday session saw two sets from Swing From Paris. The band is composed of four performers: Andy Bowen (Guitar), Fenner Curtis (Violin), Sam Hughes (Guitar), and Tomasz Williams (Double Bass). They take inspiration from the greats of gypsy jazz and swing. Their name even echoes the famous Django Reinhardt track ‘Swing De Paris.’ The melding of the four string instruments together creates a wonderful full sound that is cacophonic, yet gentle.
I had the pleasure of seeing the band earlier in the year at the Swindon Jazz and Soul Festival that was held at Christ Church in Old Town. After being blown away by their performance at the festival, I was looking forward to hearing them play again at another Swindon venue.
Listening to the group within the cosy, warm, and intimate setting of The Royal Oak was magical. The soft yellow dimmed lighting of the bar set the mood, and the beautiful instrumentals whisked you away to the cobbled streets of yesteryear in France, on a summer evening. With their numbers from various musicals or classic film soundtracks, the band would also transport listeners to the vintage silver screen - you really felt like you could be walking around in a scene from a 1930s/40s movie.
On their setlist were a number of awe-inspiring jazz tracks. The musicians treated visitors of The Royal Oak with a rendition of Edith Piaf’s ‘Under The Sky of Paris’ (or ‘Paris Skies’ as it is also known). This sweeping track made a real impression on those attending the gig and set the audience members up early on, for what was still to come.
Other songs I feel I must mention that were played throughout the band’s two sets are ‘But Not For Me’, a toe-tapping number from the musical Girl Crazy (from 1930), Benny Goodman’s ‘Avalot’, and a popular favourite, Renato Carosone’s ‘Tu vuo fa l’americano’ (1956). The latter mentioned Carosone number was my personal favourite, with its familiar upbeat melody. Once the first set was complete, the musicians took half an hour to recharge and rehydrate, and then returned for another hour-long performance.
The band members of Swing From Paris have real rapport with one another, and it really is evident that they love what they do. The players are obviously incredibly well-rehearsed, yet their playing style is so relaxed and effortless.
Additionally, the band’s violinist Fenner Curtis introduced each track with some facts about its composition, its composer or the film or musical soundtrack it belongs to. This helped to contextualise the songs and also helped to draw the audience further into the world of jazz.
I would highly recommend any jazz, or live music fan for that matter, go and see Swing From Paris. Towards the end of their final set at the Oak, the band made sure to thank the audience for coming out to listen to them play, and for supporting not only live music, but live jazz. It does not feel like a chore to support live bands when they play as beautifully as Swing From Paris do.
So what are you waiting for, be a true music patron and pop down to the Royal Oak for the live jazz sessions every Tuesday! I guarantee it’ll provide the perfect start to your week.
More information about Jazz Knights’ Tuesday Live Jazz Sessions can be found online at https://www.jazzknights.co.uk/venues-events/royaloak. Jazz Knights also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057663871548
More information about Swing From Paris, and their upcoming gigs can be found online at https://swingfromparis.co.uk/
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