Going to see a gig at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is as much about the club, as it is about the artists. Since it opened in 1959, the place hosted big names such as Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie and Miles Davis, and walking into this small, stylish venue, set square in the middle of Soho, you can almost feel their presence. From the old photos hanging on the walls and down to the red velvet chairs and candle-lit tables, everything about this place screams history. It also seems like every person visiting Ronnie Scott’s is aware of that fact, and dresses accordingly – showing off their suits and ties and little cocktail dresses. With such a sophisticated backdrop, it’s hard to imagine seeing a concert less than incredible; almost like Ronnie Scott’s wouldn’t allow it. And with Raul Midón’s performance it was just that. Incredible.
Midón is not a novice in the music scene. The New Mexico native started his career as a session singer for numerous Latin recording artists like Shakira and Julio Iglesias, but soon after decided to move to New York and pursue a solo career. Since 1999 the singer/songwriter has released seven albums and collaborated with big-timers like Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and the one and only Snoop Dogg. He even performed for the series of “TED Talks”, demonstrating his guitar techniques. This artist is nothing short of a professional and when watching him perform, all you can do is sit back in aue.
On that Tuesday evening, Raul Midón stepped on the stage of Ronnie Scott’s all by himself, but he utilised every trick in his playbook to make sure the audience didn’t notice. It started with a captivating guitar solo accompanied by a mouth trumpet during “Mi Amigo Cubano”. Later, the bongos joined the equation with almost 10 minutes of improve in the middle of “Sunshine I can Fly”. And in the reggae tune “Invisible Chains” Midón played both bass and rhythm while singing the song simultaneously! It feels like there’s nothing that man can’t do. Even when he moved to the piano, confessing his limited skills with the instrument, he still managed to draw the crowd in with his beautiful falsetto vocals. Midón’s voice was also the main attraction during the final number “State of Mind”, with an impressive scat.
Unlike most musicians, who stick to a main genre and define themselves by it, Midón seems to want to have it all; from the groovy “Paddle to the Metal” and the soulful “Expressions of Love”, to the Latin influences of “Mi Amigo” and the aforementioned reggae. One of the songs was strictly a guitar composition, while the other was the exact opposite – a spoken word accompanied by soft music. It’s like watching five different musicians, with ten different identities, but Midón makes it work. He simply places everything under this big, colourful umbrella called Jazz. This approach can be risky, though. A person who came to the concert because he liked Midón’s soulful sound, may not appreciate a spoken word piece, and a person who admires the musician’s guitar skills, may be turned off by a vocal improve. But for people who enter Midón’s world with an open mind and open ears, a once in a lifetime experience is guaranteed.
This Raúl Midón article was written by Tal Imagor, a GIGsoup contributor