On the day the United Nations declared COVID-19 had reached pandemic proportions, I found myself in the basement at The Pheasantry on London King’s Road. As expected at this great venue, the evening was a total delight, with the phenomenal voice of Graham J accompanied by expert pianist Marco Marconi.
Graham and Marco had only begun rehearsals two days earlier, yet their two sets sounded as if they had been a musical partnership for years. The only disappointment of the evening was the small crowd, who nevertheless clearly enjoyed the select gathering.
The intimate basement at The Pheasantry combines the atmosphere of fine jazz clubs around the world with the great food, drinks and service one expects from Pizza Express. On such a night as this, when gigs were being cancelled everywhere and people staying away from crowds, those of us who ventured out were treated to a musical delight.
Hats were tipped in the direction of Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse and Jacques Brel, alongside several original compositions by both Graham and Marco.
Every song was carefully chosen, with the solo piano pieces more than the opportunity for Graham to take a break. They were some of Marco’s most beautiful compositions and equally lyrical.
The piece de resistance was the finale - Mon Coeur s’ouvre a ta Voix from Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah. It may not have been jazz, but it was a stunning acoustic performance that filled the basement.
This is a duo that will always delight. If you have the chance to watch them - probably the other side of this pandemic - take it and embrace it.