Rose Room Orchestra Fantastique at the Spiegeltent, George Square - the perfect way to spend an opening night at The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival 2017. For anyone not familiar with Rose Room, they are simply one of the best gypsy jazz bands around at the moment and, through a combination of their own music and timeless classics, perfectly capture both the sounds and the essence of Paris in the 1930s and 1940s with Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.
Rose Room are violinist and vocalist Seonaid Aitken (recently voted best vocalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards), Jimmy Moon (double bass), Tam Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and Tom Watson (lead guitar). Tonight though, Rose Room become Rose Room Orchestra Fantastique as the line up is expanded to nine musicians that include the always impressive saxophone talents of Konrad Wiszniewski (recently voted best instrumentalist at The Scottish Jazz Awards), and the constantly in demand skills of The Capella Quartet
With an impressive and accomplished display of musical talents, Rose Room made the very difficult look so smooth and natural through two sets that included original Rose Room material from their “High Life” album -“January Blue”, “Tomorrow’s Goodbye” and “The High Life” blending seamlessly into classics that included “Isn’t This a Lovely Day”, Django Reinhardt’s classic “Dark Eyes” and Charles Trenet’s “Menilmontant”…plus as this is The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, a classic version of a classic song “Blues in my Heart” that showcased perfectly the combined talents of the band and Seonaid and Konrad who were both obviously having so much fun performing this song together. “Blues In my Heart” was a little musical detour from the usual gypsy jazz sounds of Rose Room, but just highlighted an extra layer to the amazing vocal and tonal range that Seonaid Aitken has as a singer.
Fun really was a big part of this show as Rose Room were obviously enjoying playing with the expanded line up and the extra textures and colours that this brought to their music, and that pleasure was shared with a full capacity audience in the Spiegeltent.
Something magical happens when Seonaid Aitken not only sings with that clear voice that takes you back to another time and place, but also starts to display seriously impressive skills when playing gypsy jazz on violin as the two combine in a joyous celebration of life and music. Tom Watson on lead guitar never fails to give an amazing display of how to play Gypsy jazz guitar, and combine that tonight with the musical force that is Konrad Wiszniewski, Jimmy Moon (double bass), Tam Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and The Capella Quartet and it always looked like this show was going to be something very special, and it was.
If you missed tonight’s show, there is another chance to catch up with Rose Room Orchestra Fantastique on Sunday July 23 8:00 PM West Princes Street Gardens Spiegeltent.
If there are still tickets available, Seonaid Aiken is also performing at The Festival Theatre tonight (Saturday 15th July) as the Jazz Festival celebrates the songs of Ella Fitzgerald in her centenary year
Review by Tom King