Review: Nerija + Theon Cross Trio & Tom Skinner @ The Pickle Factory (London, 2nd April 2017)

Last Sunday we went to The Pickle Factory for the first night of Ovation, a monthly series that will bring the best of contemporary jazz and world music to the intimate East London venue.

The events are co-curated by Tom Skinner (Hello Skinny, Matthew Herbert, Owiny Sigoma Band, and Sons of Kemet), joint founder and resident DJ for Mixology, and also the host of the night.

For the occasion, The Pickle Factory was turned into an authentic jazz cave, furnished with sofas and cocktail tables, which contributed to the relaxed atmosphere in the club. A crowd of jazz lovers of all ages gathered to participate in what we hope will become a standing appointment.

The first set of the night was delivered by Theon Cross and his trio. A true tuba virtuoso, Theon pushes the boundaries of his instrument to the limits. Around his at once percussive and melodic playing, Nubya Garcia (sax tenore) weaved swirling solos, leaving drummer Moses Boyd the task of keeping things together.

Nérija, the main act of the night, are a collective of London-based, young and talented musicians, nominated in 2016 as Best Breakthrough Act by Jazz FM. Their music harmoniously blends Jazz, Afrobeat, Hip-Hop, and South African Township influences.

Having released their first EP through Bandcamp last September, their beautiful set was the perfect chance to see them perform it live.

Despite their young age, Nérija play like staged musicians. The chemistry between the players was palpable, exchanging solos and giving each other cues as usually old pals do. The interplay between Cassie Kinoshi (sax alto) and Sheila-Maurice Grey (trumpet) was especially exalting. But we ought to pay the right dues to this truly stellar formation, and we cannot overlook Inga Eichler’s double bass prowess. Such feelings were shared by the rest of the audience, who eagerly called the band back on stage for an encore.

What better start for Ovation? We cannot wait to discover what’s in store for us next.