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London Jazz Festival: Samara Joy Gives a Masterclass on Charisma and Versatility


Photo available via Wikimedia Commons (Under License Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))


The two-time Grammy award winner left the audience speechless and filled with emotion at her performance for the London Jazz Festival at the Barbican.


She performed covers of classics, some vocalese, as well as originals with the help of her outstanding ensemble Luther Allison on the keys, Evan Sherman on drums and Mikey Migliore on bass. There was no better way to spend a rainy London evening than listening to the sounds of Joy and her band, exhibiting their immense calibre. Her love for the genre was evident from the emotion and care displayed each time she sings. 


From her opening number, Charles Mingus’ Reincarnation of a Lovebird’, she displayed the presence and tact of a vocalist well beyond her years. The precocious 24-year old took her time making her way through the set list, engaging with the crowd, giving us the backstory and sentiment behind each song.


 Before her cover of the Fats Navarro classic ‘Nostalgia’, she asks the crowd “How many couples do we have out here tonight?”. And as you would expect the single people in the crowd rolled their eyes annoyed. But as she went through the crowd asking for how long couples had been together, you couldn’t help but be charmed by her jokes and optimism. 

She kept the audience on their toes, subbing in their answers for the original 50 years in the song and improvising using British lingo. Her fervour cracked even the coldest of hearts, leaving everyone smiling and hopeful at the end of the song. 


Her brilliance at vocalese was demonstrated by her performance Nostalgia (The Day I Knew)’ and ‘Round Midnight’, the latter for which she used lyrics from a Carmen McRae vintage performance. Her admiration and love for jazz and respect for the older generations was obvious as she discussed how she came to find these hidden gems.


She ended the show with Linger Awhile, a hit from her latest album, providing a melancholy yet joyous ending to a magical evening, earning her and the band a standing ovation. But her return to the stage for the encore with ‘Can’t Get Out of This Mood’ left the audience brimming with joy, making it a bittersweet end to the concert 


The singer is just a joy to watch, and is definitely bringing jazz to Gen Z with the way she transports you to a bar in New York during the Golden Age of Jazz, but with her own twang. Her performance will linger awhile in the hearts of those at the Barbican that night. 


Find out more about Samara Joy at her Website, Youtube and Spotify


Find out more about the EFG London Jazz Festival at their Website 


Edited by Lucy Blackmur, Music Editor


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