Pianist Zoe Rahman is fast gaining acclaim and recognition in the British jazz scene as an immensely talented performer, composer and important name in the jazz community. She has released four albums of her own and collaborated with other big names such as Courtney Pine. Tonight she has the daunting task of holding an audience’s attention throughout a solo piano gig which takes place in a venue far more formal than her usual jazz club setting.
A disappointing turn out from the audience actually leads to a wonderfully intimate atmosphere in Hall One at Kings Place: an incredible space with amazing acoustics. Rahman is a charming host who welcomes her three school girl students as well as her family in the audience. Her friendly manner puts the audience at ease instantly and captivates their attention. Then, sat at the beautiful Steinway grand piano, the beautiful Zoe Rahman slips off her beautiful shoes and begins to play. Her classical training is evident in her precise technique but her musicality and natural feel for jazz clearly come from deep within.
Throughout the evening the barefoot Rahman plays tunes from Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk and original compositions as well as Bengali songs. Particularly of note is her performance of a composition by former teacher at Berklee college, JoAnne Brackeen, which leaves me speechless. Her playing is incredibly thoughtful and her solos are impressive and reflect her eclectic taste. Rahman ends the evening with an encore dedicated to her father. She plays Mucche Jaoa Dinguli and Tuang Guru, from her Live album, with beautiful tenderness and raw emotion making for a perfect end to the enchanting evening.
She deserves a bigger audience tonight but the intimate setting, her delight in playing the Steinway and of course her immense talent was more than enough to make up for the small audience numbers.