If you tell me someone is “funky” you may as well say he/she ran interference for Vlad The Impaler. I accept that says more about me than the funky one but, hey, what can I tell you, I’m a meat-and-potatoes man. In my book nouvelle cuisine is strictly for the birds.
On the other hand, someone was kind enough to invite me to a gig featuring Kim Cypher, who may well be the epitome of funk. And because my mother taught me to be polite I accepted and prepared to be stoic.
The gig went down on a Monday evening, not the most fortuitous of dates – in fact in Manhattan many venues are dark on Mondays with events running Tuesday through Sunday. Whilst it wouldn’t be accurate to say they were shooting elk in the balcony there were definite gaps among the auditors.
Kim and her musicians, a quartet, turned out to be accomplished musically. They kicked off the first set with a great Hoagy Carmichael ballad, The Nearness Of You. Perhaps I should have said once a ballad because Kim elected to take it at a clip more suited to another Carmichael number, Up A Lazy River.
…the audience was completely caught up in the mood, laughing, stamping and clapping in sync.
The second offering, Comes Love, was more or less right on the money tempo-wise with Kim’s vocal weaving in and out between tenor, guitar and bass solos. The only other non-original number in the first set was Blue Moon and somehow it seems permissible to take liberties with such a venerable old war-horse even if it did seem at times as if the players were improvising on five different numbers.
Even at this relatively early stage of the proceedings the audience was completely caught up in the mood, laughing, stamping and clapping in sync.
For me the highlight of the evening was the second set opener, another ballad by Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart and Chilton Price, You Belong To Me – a mega-hit for Jo Stafford in 1952. Ms Cypher delivered the song at the correct tempo and with feeling.
For the rest of the evening the ensemble seemed to have one joint avowed intent – to deliver more wailing than at any time since the Pequod was working out of New Bedford, an ambition in which they succeeded admirably.
Kim Cypher at Pizza Express, Dean St, London, 8 April 2019