Call me out as a philistine but Knoel Scott's name was not on my jazz rolodex. He has been a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra since the late 1970s but he has also been breaking out with his own group, on and off, for the last few years.
His last London gig was in January at Dalston's home of the left field, Cafe Oto. I took this as a heavy hint that tonight's audience could be in for an evening of celestial modes and grooves. However tonight's concert is punningly billed as A Knight Of Harlem Jazz. Something more suggestive of one of those tributes or hommages that are a big cog in the current jazz machine. The one question I asked myself was will I be Astral Travelling or being warned not to touch the exhibits on display.
Scott & his cohorts step up to the bandstand for the first of two sets. All band members are at eye level and the 100 club acoustics are pin sharp and whiskey warm. Knoel himself is a sharply dressed man with the authentic aura of golden era cool.
For the next hour the the audience is treated to fluid brew of bop, swing, latin strolls and free jazz fireworks. There is a whiff of Pharaoh Sanders in Scott's alto sax & the rhythm section lend great texture and purpose, Shane Forbe's arclight drumming being a high point of the the freer material. Fresh-faced Charlie Stacey is a star in himself & his solos put further gloss on the gingerbread.
The second set built upon the success of the first with added panache & a growing appreciation between band members and the wowed audience. The band and the audience had now got know one another. Scott is a bit of a mover and he throws a few shapes whilst his charges show off their chops. He is also blessed with a fine bluesy baritone voice and he managed to bathe the room in film noire longing with his version of Grady Tate's Don't Misunderstand.
In Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose, Allen in his role as agent to a troupe of vaudeville acts tells them he does not seen them playing joints, he sees them playing Carnegie Hall. Well the 100 Club felt a little small for the Knoel Scott Quartet this evening. See them whilst they are still a well kept secret.
Knoel Scott - Alto, flute, vocals
Charlie Stacy - Piano
Michelle Montolli - Bass
Shane Forbes - Drums
Review: Simon Cooney