London is home to some of the most famous jazz clubs in the world. So what can the contemporary Vortex in Dalston offer fans and musicians?
Jazz is an intimate genre and even the largest of clubs can feel downright claustrophobic if the right act is playing. The Vortex Jazz Quartet manage just that, making the venue feel much smaller than its already humble dimensions.
The quartet is a revival, of sorts, as they perform for the first time in this venue, following Vortex’s move from Stoke Newington to Dalston. This time the group featured special guest Chris Batchelor on trumpet, known for his work with 80s jazz superstars Loose Tubes, and his collaborations with Steve Buckley. Batchelor last played at the Vortex as part of the band Pigfoot, but as an addition to the Vortex Jazz Quartet he stands out with his impressive repertoire of work from his earlier days, including his original composition, ‘The Road, The Sky, The Moon’.
At times, it seemed as though the Vortex Jazz Quartet were still attempting to settle into their new surroundings, and there was even the odd clash of ideas. As with any good improvising group, these clashes soon turned to respectful rebuttals, as the makeshift five-piece familiarised themselves with each other’s strengths. Indeed, the few hiccups they had were overshadowed by the sense of familiarity that quickly returned.
The club has a strong sense of community, and this is made possible by the staff, who are predominantly volunteers. It is reassuring to see a club maintained by a group of people who have a genuine love for the music and want to help promote the club and the schedule that it puts on.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Dalston Junction, Vortex is hard to miss in the middle of Gillett Square, with its bold, brightly lit exterior. Inside is a much subtler affair. The venue is cosy, seating approximately 100 people on a standard night.
Vortex Jazz Club is a welcome participant in London’s thriving jazz scene. There’s something on offer for everyone, from the curious one-off attendees to long time patrons. Standard tickets are inexpensive, making Vortex a welcoming environment for anyone who might have been put off by higher prices elsewhere.