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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Friday, 01 December 2023 23:44

Matt Johnson - At PizzaExpress Live In London

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Out now on the new PX Records - Matt Johnson at PizzaExpress Live.

The new record label in town - PX Records label - brings a recording of Jamiroquai keyboardist Matt Johnson. This is a collection of tracks that sit exceptionally well under the PizzaExpress live jazz banner and add to a strong start of albums released since Easter 2023.

Matt Johnson at PizzaExpress Live is an album of original tracks and re-imagined classics. There’s a new, particularly brilliant version of Roy Ayers’s Expansions that brings a new energy to this track we’ve all heard so many times before.

Listen to Expansions here:

Live recordings often sit well in the canon of an artist’s repertoire and this is no exception to that rule. From the ethereal opening of Our Time is Coming that launches into a funky, electronic groove, Johnson and his band produce an invigorating and exuberant album.

This is a great band, too, with Johnson (keys), Derrick McKenzie (drums), Ernie McKone (bass), Andrew Smith (guitar), Valerie Etienne (vocals) and Hazel Fernandez (vocals). Each one is given their chance to shine and as a group yhey bring the best in musical collaboration. There’s just a hint of Herbie Hancock in Johnson’s playing and arrangements, with dexterity and finesse.

Musicians known for their performances with one group don’t often perform well when let loose on the world, but Johnson’s original tracks and covers all work well and - like many live recordings - make the listener wish they’d been at the original gig.

 

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