Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Impressions at the Jazz Cafe

The sweetest soul sounds of the sixties were made by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. Curtis has gone, but the Impressions live on, and gloriously so, as their show at the Jazz Cafe last night demonstrated. Sam Gooden (pictured left) and Fred Cash (right) remain from the original sixties line up and relative newcomer Reggie Torian, who joined in 1973 after Curtis went solo, accurately reproduces Curtis's soaring vocal style.
Their set was basically the same as when they played at the Barbican last year, but the more intimate venue meant that they could relate more closely to the audience (surprisingly not a sell-out), and it quickly became clear that this would be an evening of vintage soul of the highest quality. Starting with Gypsy Woman from 1961, they moved on through a run of other 60s classics - It's All Right, I've Been Trying and Talking About My Baby. It seems hard to believe now, but apparently their 1969 hit Choice Of Colors was considered so controversial at the time that it was only the intervention of US TV host Joey Bishop that prevented it being banned by the show's producer. The Impressions played a big role in raising social consciousness and promoting civil rights.
Next was Woman's Got Soul from 1965 and then their great gospel number People Get Ready. Reggie urged the audience not to take any baggage on the train to Jordan. From the sacred to the profane, next was You've Been Cheating followed I Loved And Lost and then the inspirational Movin' On Up. Seventies black exploitatation was celebrated with Superfly - Reggie suitably dressed in a white coat and scarf (see photo) - followed with Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey). Finally the encore - the anthemic Move On Up - again perfectly performed by these exceptional vocalists.
And then they were gone, far too soon, but this was a memorable show by a brilliant, legendary group.


At 4:58 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Graham Joyce said: Yup, a good review of a good show Nick.
Brian Clark commented: Good review Nick, so glad I managed to catch their Friday show, which must have been exactly the same set as the show you witnessed. Terrific stuff

At 9:35 pm , Anonymous Harry van Vliet said...

Hey Nick !
It is A-MA-ZING that The Impressions are still going and what's even more amazing ( or to put it mildly...disturbing) that the gigs by these legends are not sold out the moment they've been announced ! When we saw them ( 24-5-2008, Northampton)the hall was only full for 3/4... It seems a lot of British punters rather go to some "Northern Soul do" to hear a "famous" DJ put on a Impressions 45 than watching the real thing on their doorstep . To us Dutchies it's unbelievable !!!
Take care Harry van Vliet

At 12:22 pm , Blogger Nick said...

I couldn't agree with you more Harry. Why don't more people appreciate fantastic acts like the Impressions? Beats me. Incidentally. I've put a clip of Otis Clay at Porretta on Facebook -worth checking out.

At 4:29 pm , Blogger john marriott said...

Disagree really. Its London thats the problem. If it had been a similar venue in Manchester it would have been sold out. The fantastic Barbara Mason show at the Jazz Cafe a couple of years ago - a real 60'/70's soul show was poorly attended.
The problem with The Northampton one was the incredible weekend cost, the organisation and the fact that a lot of people didn't believe they would actually show.
John Marriott


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