Gig Review – The Herbaliser, Jazz Cafe, 14 October 2016

Back in 1999 I bought an album called Winter Chill, a chill-out album released on the Hedkandi label.  It included some great tracks like Letting Go by Nitin Sawhney and Cold Water Music by Aim.  One of the other great tracks was called The Sensual Woman by a band called The Herbaliser.  Almost 20 years later, the track sounds as great as it did when I first heard it.  The album is also selling on Amazon for £45 which means I may be sitting on a treasure trove!


Anyway, I didn’t really know a lot about The Herbaliser.  I knew that they were on Coldcut’s Ninja Tunes label and featured on at least one Ninja Tunes compilation album  (Cold Krush cuts).  I didn’t know much else. I certainly wasn’t expecting seven middle-aged men to walk on stage at London’s Jazz Cafe.

Somehow I’d got it in my head that they were an outfit of one, and an ever youthful one at that!  The band consists of a horn section (alto sax, trumpet and tenor sax/flute), electric bass, drummer, keyboard player, DJ/scratcher and a rapper (making it a round eight) who guested on a number of tunes.  The sound was a clash of hip-hop, funk and jazz.  I couldn’t really tell one tune from the next, in the sense that I didn’t know their music and that each tune wasn’t that different from the last.  This would be a problem if the last tune was rubbish! Fortunately it was good.  The band could play, were tight and it was a really fun gig and great atmosphere.  Here’s one of the tunes they played last night…

As an aside, the last time I was at the Jazz Cafe was a couple of years ago where I saw Candi Staton (think Young Hearts Run Free), who incidentally was fantastic. It was already a good venue for getting up close with the band but since I’d last been they’d rejigged the place and moved the bar creating a lot more room.

The Herbaliser have a new album out in the new year.  I don’t think I’ll be getting it – I prefer my hip-hop/funk/jazz to be a bit harder hitting – but I’d like to see them again.  Can’t say fairer than that.