We give our verdict on one of the UK's hottest jazz bands
ALEXANDRA PALACE THEATRE 23rd November 2019 In their short existence, Kansas Smitty's have already built up a reputation as one of the hottest jazz bands on the UK scene. Rooted in swing, cool jazz and blues Smitty's pride themselves on being spontaneous and keeping the music fresh. A quick look over on You Tube will show how the band leaps from traditional to hot club with astonishing versatility; and unlike Ryan Gosling's character in La La Land, these young musicians are living the dream: Kansas Smitty's is not only a band, it's also a bar. This dedication jazz music is equally admirable, and the bar in London is a happening place to showcase exponents across the genre, and of course their own music.
The band take their music outside the confines of their club, to the sold-out Alexandra Palace Theatre. Despite the high proscenium arch, Smitty's do their best to create a small club atmosphere. As they huddle together on centre stage, seemingly unaware of the space around them, they get straight down to playing the music. There's minimal chit chat from bandleader Giacomo Smith as the band play through favourites like Bird on Money and The Bipper, while treating the audience to songs from their forthcoming new album to be released next year. This time around the band focused on bepop, swing and more traditional jazz modals. Sadly Pete Horsfall wasn't let loose on the microphone this time, but what we lost in his bluesy vocals, we gained in his adroit trumpet playing. Expert jazz pianist, Joe Webb, was given the spotlight towards the end of the evening, leaving the audience in no doubt that he is a young pianist that deserves wider acclaim.
Another musician worthy of wider recognition is Keyon Harrold, who joined the band's brass section for a guest slot after playing a series of dates at Ronnie Scott's. Harrold, is best known for blending genres and styles in his work and his most recent album The Mugician, is an outstanding example of this.
Whatever form they take, be it bar or band, Kansas Smitty's have found a way to keep jazz music in all its forms, very much inclusive and accessible. And as with all jazz music, you never know quite what to expect. One thing you can be sure of at a Smitty show, is the standard of musicianship on offer, and they're not just hot, they're on fire.