Review: Jack Foley
BONOBO apes, according to a recent article, are some of the most
blissful and content creatures around, particularly given their
preference for sex over aggression.
So it is little wonder that Simon Green chose Bonobo as his DJ
tag, especially given the nature of the music he produces.
Sexy, alluring, and almost magical, at times, Bonobo produced
one of last year's best albums in Dial M for Monkey (his
first for Ninja), as well as his debut LP, Animal Magic,
which heralded the arrival of a major new talent in 2000.
At the Jazz Cafe on Thursday night (January 22, 2004), Green
ensured there was no monkey business as he recreated some of the
sounds of those two long-players using a six-piece band for the
The result was one of the most enjoyable I have witnessed for
Anyone who has heard Green's music will probably appreciate what
a big undertaking this would be. Both Dial M and Animal Magic
are rich in musical diversity, packed with samples, and rammed
with lush beats and jazzy, David Holmes-inspired electronica.
Witness the likes of Pick Up, with its Lalo Schifrin throwback
vibe, or the rich, vibrant Scuba, which begins well and
keeps getting better, and you'll know what I mean.
Unphased by such a challenge, however, Green and co produced
a dazzling set which seemed tailor-made for the trendy crowd at
one of Camden's premier music venues.
And they lapped it up, applauding each break in the music, and
dancing to every number, while diners looked on from above, obviously
Having been warmed up by Toronto's Dj Moonstarr, who demonstrated
an impressive array of funky records, ingenious breaks and well-worked
scratches, the live version of Bonobo then set about their business
with a quiet confidence which never became too showy, or about
Green, who admitted to not being one for chit-chat, took a back
seat, content to orchestrate his colleagues and ensure they didn't
miss a beat, whether it came from the drums at the rear of the
stage, the keyboards to the right, or the dazzling array of instruments
which kept cropping up throughout proceedings.
Saxophones enthralled, a cello added some extra bass, an acoustic
guitar sounded as lush as it always does, while the five musicians
never failed to amaze with their diverse repertoire (Green played
bass for most of the time). Nothing phased them, and the crowd's
response only served as a boost to their confidence.
By the time the show-stoppers arrived, such as Turtle, The
Sicilian, Terrapin, and Flutter, they were in full
swing and each provided a musical moment to cherish for a very
From Camden, the Bonobo live set moves on to Canada and the US,
as part of the Ninja retrospective tour, before returning to the
UK for a few more dates around the country. My advice is that
you book up early, for this is one class act you won't want to
And for the record, the live performers on the night (and each
deserves equal praise) were Simon Bonobo (Bass); Ben Cook (Sax);
Simon Janes (Cello/Guitar); Simon Little (Keys); Jack Baker (Drums);
James Grape (Electronics/percussion/vocals) and Ben Drew (luckycat)