Rose Room playing tonight to an almost full house at The Assembly Hall proved once again with their infectious and stylish “Gypsy Jazz” why they have become a firm favourite of The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival over the past few years. As usual our core quartet of violinist and vocalist Seonaid Aitken, Jimmy Moon (double bass), Tam Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and Tom Watson (lead guitar) were on great music form, but with the added extra bonus of special guest, Konrad Wiszniewski on saxophone, a little musical magic happened on stage as the chemistry between all musicians seemed to be just perfect for this show.
If you do not already know about Rose Room then a quick catch up – the band formed over 10 years ago out of one common thing between them, a love for the “gypsy jazz” music created and made famous by Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt in Paris through the 1930s and ‘40s. There are more than a few bands out there playing this music at the moment, but few seem to capture its essence and skill of musicianship quite like Rose Room as they bring classics like “Dark Eyes”, “Avalon” and “Minor Swing” to new life once again on-stage. This love of the music that they are playing is what really makes the band so special to watch and listen to as all of this pleasure from their music is shared with their audiences wherever they play.
As a band, the music of Rose Room is not restricted to Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt and this two hour set took us on a journey that also featured music from Ella Fitzgerald (“The Nearness of You”), Fats Waller ("I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling"), Dorado Schmitt (“Bossa Dorado”) and many more classics. Rose Room also write their own new material in the style of their musical heroes, and songs like “January Blue” and “La Petite Valse” merge seamlessly with the “standards”. This was a Jazz Festival performance, so appropriate that Rose Room and Konrad Wiszniewski performed their own unique take on “Sweet Georgia Brown”.
Seonaid Aitken on violin is always one of the hallmarks of Rose Room performing, but on vocals, Seonaid also has one of the most unique and timeless voices of any singer out there at the moment, and listening to her voice on a song like “Am I Blue” always makes me think of a voice out of another glorious musical time period. Tom Watson (lead guitar) is always the perfect musical balance to Seonaid on stage, but it is all too easy at times to forget that any “Gypsy Jazz” band needs a very good and solid rhythm section, and there are few as good at the job as Jimmy Moon (double bass) and Tam Gallagher (rhythm guitar).
What can be said about Konrad Wiszniewski on saxophone that has not already been said many times before in the past few years? Very little I suppose. I have seen Konrad perform many times over the past few years with different musicians and a wide range of music, and the results are always something special to be around. Tonight however, with Rose Room (whom I have seen him perform with before), something a little extra happened and it was obvious that this performance was being enjoyed as much by the five musicians on stage as it was by their appreciative audience.
Review by Tom King