The Lilian Baylis Studio is situated to the side of the main Sadlers Wells building. A bright, modern space with a spacious and airy café/bar area, it’s a welcome refuge on a cold London, winter night. I was certainly ready for a bit of hot jazz and flamenco.
The show stars Karen Ruimy. Already a renowned flamenco dancer, she has now created a 10-track album of jazz music titled Black Coffee which features the material last produced by Phil Ramone, and has additional production by Youth and Tim Bran.
The album is a blend of modern styles mixed with some French classics, all given a fresh treatment with a jazz air. Titles are eclectic, ranging from Radionhead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ by the Mamas and Papas, to Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’ and Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’. Ruimy sashays the stage in her own inimitable style with her soft, husky voice caressing the lyrics.
Vertiginous heels, sequins and sass give way to interludes of classic red, flounced flamenco. The former puts the audience in a smoky 1940s Paris jazz bar, while the latter moves it to traditional Seville backstreets.
The music covers, although stylishly presented, sometimes overpowered Ruimy’s subtle voice and the musical arrangement could possibly be adjusted to let her shine through more. However, the flamenco was a clear winner with the audience, met with rapturous applause. Her movements were mesmerising and precise, right to her fingertips. Dance felt to be the more natural place for her talents.
Ruimy is accompanied onstage by flamenco dancer Paco Hidalgo Calero along with a flamenco guitarist and singer. They are a hypnotic combination: mournful songs and sensuous moves mean you can’t take your eyes off them. They performed without Ruimy during one of her costume changes, and the audience held its breath to hear the dancer’s boots scribe the floor between bursts of frantic, percussive, rhythmic steps.
What had been billed as a one hour ten minute event actually ran for two hours, and although it was entertaining throughout, at the end I was not sure how successfully jazz singing and flamenco dancing meld together; they seemed quite separate entities, with the dancing being the outright favourite.
Director/Choreographer: Lyndon Lloyd
Musical Director: Youth
When Jazz Meets Flamenco ran for just two nights at the Lilian Baylis Studio. More information on the performer can be found via the below link.