Live music is back! In whatever way, shape or form, do yourself a favour and cleanse your soul and ears with whatever artist is playing nearby. That’s exactly what I did – courtesy of Mrs. John, I found myself at the Jazz Café for the reopening of live music and the live premiere of trumpeter, singer and songwriter Jackson Mathod. Someone in the attendance mentions he looks like Edward Norton, but that couldn’t be further from the truth – with his orange beanie and corduroy pants, Jackson has his own style, and he couldn’t be more excited to stand in front of us. “Jazz Café, it’s so good to hear your voice”, he claims. Mind you, Jackson started his project during lockdown, more concretely in his bedroom, and he’s jumping up and down with the prospect of showing it to us.
Jackson opens with The Park, the first song he ever wrote which, as he puts it, feels “more appropriate now than ever”. Arguably the young musician’s most famous song [Author’s note: Spotify’s “words”, not mine], the young artist’s contemporary Jazz style is equal parts uplifting and refreshing, characteristics that could be use to describe Jackson himself. He takes the time to properly introduce the band – James Beckwith on the keys, Matt Davis on the sax, Harry Pope on the drums and Eoin Walsh on the bass, all of which share the same excitement as Jackson in being in front of alive audience for the first time since the pandemic and all hell broke loose. They quickly move on to Spanish Bifter, where James Beckwith really shines and shows us the importance of keys in a jazz group. It is at this point that Jackson announces to the crowd “I am the… what’s the name? The matador! The bull!” before plunging into an amazing rendition of Matador, with the crowd joining and assisting Jackson when incited.
“I started writing tunes about animals, and this was the one that started it off” Jackson announces as the band starts to play Little Mouse. “You want Matt Davis to play the flute?” Well, despite being a rhetorical question, we do want to see Matt Davis on the flute and he does nail it, but it is Jackson that steals the show, with an amazing trumpet solo that deservedly brings the house down. He goes a little Louis Armstrong here and there, with the occasional scat singing and a weirdly charismatic stage presence, putting on a great show in the process. Granted, the band is still a bit “green” – expected on their first performance – but everyone is having fun on stage and off it.
“Jazz Café, like I said it really is sooooo good to hear your voice”, he keeps telling us. It is at this moment that Charlie Allen and his guitar join the band on stage and present us with Come On Now, to be released later this year, and all the crowd joins Jackson’s instructions for a glorious finale. As he prepares us for the grand finale, Jackson has the time to put out one final hilarious announcement – “Unfortunately I don’t have anything to sell, but that’s my fault, I’m broke. I only have one more tune, but I promise it’s a banger”. And India, the impressive instrumental song that follows, is a banger indeed and the best way to perfectly cap off Jackson’s live debut. “Jazz Café, make some noise, we missed you” – a true party, to remind us of what we have been missing. Live music is back.