Jordan Rakei and Friends at Ronnie Scott’s: ‘soulful and stirring’

Neo-soul has been coined as the newest evolution of jazz and New Zealand-born artist Jordan Rakei’s incredible performance at Ronnie Scott’s was a shining example.

His sound is heavily influenced by Soulquarians such as D’Angelo and J Dilla and the more recent neo-soul innovations of artists like Hiatus Kaiyote. However, in a genre typically known for its bravado Rakei bucks the trend, exposing a more introverted, vulnerable side. His latest album, aptly titled Wallflower, dominated the show and well suited the small, intimate bubble that is Ronnie Scott’s, the venue bathed in dim red lighting.

The show started with the ambient intro of new single “Eye to Eye”, which set an emotive tone for the performance. Sensitive new songs led into older, more groove driven neo-soul material underpinned by infectious “Dilla” inspired beats. The spontaneity of the jazz tradition was kept alive too with an extended jazz piano outro to “Tawo”, while in “Clues Blues” a horn section exchanged powerful flowing solos befitting of Ronnie Scott’s hazy jazz-bar environment.   

The show was titled “Jordan Rakei and Friends” and Jordan has clearly made some influential ones. London based rapper/poet and emerging talent Loyle Carner casually strolled on stage from his table in the audience before performing a song written just “a couple weeks ago”. Jazz/soul singer songwriter Elli Ingram also featured with “Stone Cold”, which was co-written with Rakei. Overall the performance was as soulful and stirring as it was cool and creative. For anyone who enjoys jazz, soul or emotive pop, Jordan is an artist who cannot be passed up.


Featured image: Daniela Monteiro.

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