An engaging two-day festival held in beloved East London venue the Old Blue Last, Four Letter Word showcased fresh music from London’s bustling jazz scene.
The upstairs area was full – the audience ranging from serious jazz aficionados to newbies who stumbled upon the festival. The laid back, intimate venue was a great choice for the variety of performers that took to the stage. The stand out acts were easily Yazz Ahmed, Ishmael Ensemble and Ill Considered, while Niven and James Chatburn excelled the evening before.
Ill Considered played mellow rock style jazz, complimented by percussionist Yahael Camara-Onono’s distinctive beats as well as groovy bursts of saxophone. ‘Dawn Lit Metropolis’ was my favourite song of theirs, with a dulcet, soft saxophone line ascending before slight Balkan sounds enter. The interplay between the percussion, which added more nuisance, and the saxophone that brought it back to jazz was something out of this world.
Yazz Ahmed Trio’s sound is incredible to take in all at once. Arabic (maqam) scales permeated the set as a precise, dreamy vibraphone imitated sounds from the Middle East. The trio are expressive and not afraid to experiment. While ‘Bellie’ was a little heavier on the electronic side, ‘The Space Between the Fish and the Moon’ merged wonderful soundscaping, melancholic rhythms and a standout vibraphone part. Beautiful in every sense of the word.