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“Their arrangements depend on rapid transitions and tight unison playing and their current tour has enabled them to forge a razor-sharp ensemble sound and have fun with it…Shoham’s compositions often separate the east European and Afro-American components of jazz like the coloured rings in a paper chromatography demonstration…The band switches between rhythmic feels with telepathic ease, and the presence of the talented Angilley gives them an improvisational depth and range that complements the witty and thoughtful compositions…Shoham started JEOJ to forge a link between his family’s spiritual roots and his passion for jazz; the band has developed a performing style that both transcends and respects his romantic ideals” The Guardian

Just East made an eagerly anticipated return to Scarborough Jazz last Wednesday, and didn’t disappoint.

The London-based quartet, consists of reedsman and composer Jeremy Shoham, multi-keyboardist Neil Angilley, electric bassist Phil Scragg and drummer/percussionist Rick Finlay (accompanied by a wonderful drum and percussion rig which was so big it had to be set up off-stage).

The band offered two sets of hugely diverse and imaginative music, which was largely drawn from their critically acclaimed new album “House of Leaves”, and the sets perfectly showcased the band’s diverse expertise: Shoham’s intricacy and clean, precise tone, Finlay’s vivid rhythmic creativity, Scragg’s unusual ability to exploit both electronic effects and the more guitar-like characteristics of his instrument, and Angilley’s sheer musicality and imagination.

As Finlay pointed out, jazz has always fused different musical traditions, and has always travelled – transporting and mutating elements of those traditions – but “Just East” extrapolate this process into a post-modernist creative space.

The performance wasn’t jazz-rock fusion, per se - though there were passages which had a texture not unlike Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”, and others which had flavours of the jazzier British prog-rock of that same era, and hints of the piano style of West Coast country blues-rockers like Greg Allman - “Just East” also draw heavily on jazz history, and both Christian and non-Christian Mediterranean traditions. There were even times when Angilley’s inspired improvisation ventured into the Stravinsky-like territory much loved by the late Frank Zappa. To underline this point, one of the more dramatic compositions on offer was Finlay’s “Saraweto”, which was a musical journey that toured back-and-forth between the Balkans and South Africa.

All in all, this was an inspiring performance, and it was gratifying for the audience to learn how much the band enjoys playing at Scarborough, so hopefully they’ll return soon; and on that note, I add, once again, that this is another band not to be missed.”

Diane Watson Scarborough Jazz blog Nov 11

Just East showcase: jazzahead!—Bremen, Germany

“…Much later that night, after everyone had sufficiently refuelled with food and wine, in the packed-out Schlachthof or ‘slaughterhouse’ (the building’s original function), British band Just East performed a set of their klezmer, folk, world and classical-influenced jazz. Hypnotic from the outset with relentless sequential movement, the band pleased the receptive audience.

Rick Finlay on percussion laid down exotic beats while Jeremy Shoham on reeds provided fast-paced scalic patterns. Memorably, Shoham seemed most comfortable playing the notoriously stubborn E-flat clarinet with perfect tuning; no easy task.

Having played together since 1993 the synergy between the musicians was easy to hear. Finlay demonstrated his dexterity by tenderly playing the mbira accompanied by his soft vocals, which added a gentleness to their otherwise more intense sound.

Playing through a clearly thought-out set, Phil Scragg provided prominent bass lines that pushed melodies onward through the unwavering patterns.

Ending with a track that included a superb piano solo for Neil Angilley that brought the (slaughter)house down, Just East were rewarded with excited and extended applause. As well as performing in their showcase, Just East also exhibited at the conference and worked incredibly hard all weekend networking, promoting themselves and even handing out nifty little branded USB pen drives to delegates.” Jazz UK

Just East from Great Britain put in one of the best appearances in the context of jazzahead! With their enchantments enriched by all kinds of influences from klezmer to different Arabic styles, Just East have completely their own style. I still had their melodies in my head days later. A real jewel, and a real shame that they can only be heard in their own country.

Hopefully the boys will appear at some festival or other, I would definitely like to hear them play a full set. Awesome!”

André Sebastiani http://asebastiani.de/archives/279


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Photo by Benjamin Amure www.benjaminamure.com