By Amaris Proctor
Photography by Robert Goode
Fresh Dixie have a frank and generous warmth that makes it all too easy to be charmed by their jazz, infused with just enough pop to keep things lively. From the moment they sauntered onto the Bullingdon’s invitingly intimate stage, their easy charisma allowed them to take control of the mood, cranking up the crowd for thumping tunes like ‘Talk Right’ and ‘Sycophant’. This was no easy task, considering the oddly mixed audience of The Bullingdon: school-kids in Urban Outfitters, men in cardigans and their 40s. Still, the band had a catching energy. If people weren’t quite dancing, a lot of them were certainly bobbing their heads emphatically. This was helped along by the band’s appreciative interactions with each other on stage, which could have been cloyingly self-indulgent if it weren’t for they fact that they were so genuinely good. The vocals, swelling from powerful to playful with the thrill of the saxophone and their technical prowess all served to chase away the anxious, exhausted energy sometimes exuded from less proficient jazz players.
While possessing sparking potential, they miss a bit of the ‘well-lived-in’ kind of jazz which can be so compelling. Songs like ‘Waiting for the Answer’, though not utterly dull, verged on generic. That’s not to say the night lacked any sense of edge (proved by their support act’s opening, jazzed up rendition of ‘I Like to Move it’). Fresh Dixie were simply most convincing when they appropriated other artist’s lyrics, exemplified in their version of MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’, which was honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen. To be fair though, ‘In it to Lose’, which felt as if it were thrown almost as an afterthought, did have a wonderful nuance to it which skirted around the edges of poignancy. Ultimately, the low-key style of their live performance confirms that they will mature into something more dynamic than a hundred jaded Amy Winehouse wannabes ever could.