Rose Room are now a regular feature, and one of the highlights, of The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and this year’s show at The Spiegeltent highlights effortlessly why the band has recently won “Best Band” award at the 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards.
Rose Room are violinist and vocalist Seonaid Aitken, Jimmy Moon (double bass), Tam Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and Tom Watson (lead guitar) and together they seem to be able to perfectly capture those haunting Gypsy Jazz sounds of yesterday. Once again, the excitement of Rive Gauche Paris of the 30s and 40s is recreated as the music of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt mixes seamlessly with their own songs. It can’t go without note that Seonaid Aitken was also voted “Best Vocalist” at the 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards (also winning this award in 2017).
There are more than a few “Gypsy Jazz” bands out there at the moment, but few (if any) come anywhere close to recreating not only the music, but the energy behind the music, and Rose Room do this in style every time they perform. There are a lot of reasons the band are so good – solid and precise rhythm sections from Jimmy Moon (double bass) and Tam Gallagher (rhythm guitar) are two reasons. Tom Watson always impresses with a dazzling display of skill on lead guitar, and Seonaid Aitken on fiddle would be enough to make most bands complete, but when you add Seonaid’s vocals into the package, something special always happens when Rose Room play. Impressive though as all these combined musical talents are, one of the reasons that Rose Room are so good is that everyone In the band has a deep love for this music, and that evident pleasure from them as they play this music together is infectious to their audience.
Opening the show with an old standard, “Joseph, Joseph”, Rose Room left no one in the audience in any doubt that they were in top form and that an exciting evening of music was to follow as more classics like “Menilmontant”, “I Saw Stars”, “Rose Room”, and “Dark Eyes” blended seamlessly with their own material on songs that included amongst others “January Blue”, “Edge of Love” and “La Petite Valse”.
Adding icing to the cake this evening was world class jazz violinist Christian Garrick who joined Rose Room on stage for their second set for some songs and their encore. Watching and listening to Seonaid and Christian (and the band) play together on stage was one of my highlights of this year’s Jazz Festival, and the sheer pleasure that everyone was getting from this performance on and off stage was obvious.
There were so many highlights of this show for me, but Christian Garrick and Rose Room performing “Minor Swing” and “Dark Eyes” have to be at the top somewhere. Also Seonaid Aitken proving effortlessly why she is one of the most impressive vocal talents in contemporary jazz with timeless vocals on classic such as “Don’t Worry About Me” and “Am I Blue”. I could also just happily watch and listen to Tom Watson playing guitar all evening.
Seonaid Aitken also has another musical project in this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival – another one on my “must see” list for this year.
Seonaid Aitken, with the Clockwork Strings
Sun 21 July
Time 8 pm
Rose Room return to Edinburgh soon for The Edinburgh Festival Fringe with a show at Merchant's Hall in Hanover Street on 21st August.
Review by Tom King