Far from what you may usually expect from Bristo Square’s familiar Potterow, Jazz Club Time Machine featured some of the most talented musicians and singers that the university has to offer, for several hours of exceptionally well-performed live music. Treating several hundred lucky attendees to some excellent jazz, Soul, Latin and Pop numbers from 1920’s through to 2015, the Edinburgh University Jazz Orchestra truly put their heart into what was a fantastically well planned evening.
Opening with ‘In The Mood’ the orchestra are all too ready to introduce the cherries on the top of their layered cake with their rich variety of singers. ‘La Vie En Rose’ with Tiffany Soirat was a delicate yet empowering early number as Soirat’s soft tone was accompanied excellently by the smooth orchestra. ‘Night and Day’ featuring Will Tamlyn was another early highlight for those not necessarily au fait with the early years of Jazz. However, the show-stealer prior to the intermission is a tremendous rendition of Nat King Cole’s ‘Orange Coloured Sky’, featuring the cool and collected Scott Meenan.
Through the first set the orchestra appear to be in their element, with special mention to the Trumpet section who often help take tracks to higher levels with a handful of well taken solo’s. During ‘Sunny’ featuring Scott Meenan and Rianna Walcott there appears to be a bit of a mix-up in communication over song length, however it is easily ignored due to both singers exceptional performances and the jazz orchestra working through the song with a polished groove.
The second half of the intermission is introduced by the iconic ‘Gonna Fly Now’, a song I would say few would be able to name without thinking of a certain Mr. Balboa. Following the infamous Rocky Theme tune with ‘Signed Sealed Delivered’, featuring Oliver Prince-Smith, is an inspired piece of set organisation that helped draw in a now fully warmed up audience. In terms of dynamics Stevie Wonder’s 70’s classic gave every member of the ensemble a time to shine, from Saxophones to percussion, it sets a real tone for the 2nd half of the night.
As the 2nd half progressed the entrance of a particularly charismatic Khalid Al Khajah during a funk heavy ‘Never Too Much’ gives the night an added warmth. Shaking up the set list with the Latin ‘El Gatote’ adds variety; however, in the latter half of the set some potential questions could be raised about song choice of modern pop songs. While Christina Aguilera’s ‘Ain’t No Other Man’ seemed to fit snuggly into the set list with another great performance from Olivia Prince-Smith and some stunning horns, Justin Timberlake’s ‘Senorita’ feels slightly wanting. It is as if to some extent the song was made more for the vocalist – Khalid Al Khajah – than the band.
While it is fair enough given the context of the latter part of the evening being dedicated to pop songs, songs truly needing a band the scale of the jazz orchestra, as one would expect, feel more natural in the grand scheme of the event. This fact is is once again delivered by the entire orchestra’s closer of Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’, a both relevant and fitting way to end a very impressive set, topped with a much deserved encore.
Although Potterow may not necessarily be the place you would usually expect to watch a jazz concert, with some questionable balancing of sound and mic choices, Jazz Club Time Machine was a great way to start the weekend and wonderful show of the deep talent pool that the musical side of the University has to offer.