Rather than taking a chance on a likely dull evening at home, I judiciously chose to spend my Saturday night alongside a small gathering of music revelers. It turned out that my decision paid well. Now, you can’t imagine why I chose to attend this one, can you? Well, La Vida Local 2, organised by Don Ouko of Sax Therapy, sounded very much like a glass of cheers that posed an opportunity to have a nice chat with guests at The Blues restaurant.
What a joyous 3 hours we spent in the company of some talented and besuited young men who ripped through a set of covers, own compositions and on-the-stage improvisations! I cannot really pinpoint who carried the night but, in as much as there was a lot to be savored in each of the performing acts, I will shamelessly plug in the following four who made an impression on me:
Having previously spied on one of his performances at Tapas in Westlands, I wanted to catch Kevin’s performance again in part out of perverse curiosity. The tenderness of his performance was quite something as he played to the tunes of flamenco. With his commendable guitar playing, Kevin performed three covers one of which was Toni Braxton’s Spanish Guitar. His, overall, was a splendid recap of how and why he fell in love with flamenco.
Until that night, I had only heard of this 21 year old saxophonist from various quarters and so for me, it was both pleasing and reassuring to hear him play in such fine form! His gift for playing the soprano sax with such an expressive range is incredible and true to what has been said of him, he is about the next big thing hitting the Nairobi jazz scene. His playing was discerningly euphoric to the extent that he at some point reminded me of Miles Davis.
I got a stint of Pragmo at Richard Bona’s concert in Uganda last month and I remember thinking at the time that he plays with great promise. Little did I know he was one of the artists to grace La Vida Local 2 alongside Michael Kitanda! His sturdy performance on this evening was attractive throughout and it offered a consummately relaxing feel. Additionally, I think it is delightful that I snugged a signed copy of his album Out of the Ashes that I will be reviewing soon!
The thrill of discovery is an indispensable thing and having missed an opportunity to chat with him at the Jazz Safari event, Michael coming to give a performance at The Blues was a miracle of the universe. As the night’s central character, play did he the sax with a strong and emotionally nuanced force. Some elements of his playing were both striking and effective; like when he brilliantly carried a long note and when he pulled off some tasteful vibratos.
This was an evening of song and for all its worth and all its performances, I make no complaint. But the lack of starting on time is another matter.