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JFB’s Multijam @ Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
Thursday 15th December 2011
Words & Pictures by James Kendall
He’s been talking about this for years, but we guess he’s been a bit busy winning the UK DMC Championship, twice. However there’s much more to JFB than just being the country’s best scratch DJ, he’s a chart topping producer and a boundless innovator. His first success was with the Battlejam night he ran with beatboxer Beardyman. Taking live hip hop in a completely new direction, the pair used bleeding-edge technology and bucket loads of ideas to make beats on the fly, either sampling Beardy’s vocal noises or the crowd’s exclamations into JFB’s decks. The hip hop world still hasn’t caught up.
So this first outing for JFB’s new project is surrounded by so much excitement that even the torrid winter conditions can’t deter a full house of friends and fans. This time the DJ has a real live band directed into his technology – bass, piano, vocals, violin, cello and guitar – so more talent than ever at his disposal. He directs the action like a conductor, but instead of a baton he has a series of samples that tell the band what to do. As he presses buttons for “Solo! Violin!” and “Everybody play!” you can see he’s enjoying his godlike position.
Musically it’s quite different to the party sets he’s known for. Very much based around the jam part of the project name – everything is improvised – the music owes as much to jazz funk as it does to drum’n’bass and hip hop. But despite obviously stretching the tastes of the crowd everyone stays with them, even when they get a little noodly. It’s a case of watchers at the front, dancers at the back, although when the band play their sensuous penultimate jam we’ve never seen so much snogging at a gig.
But it’s at it’s best when there’s a bit of drive to the beats and the octet finish on a drum’n’bass track that keeps the musicality from wandering too much. The scat singing goes down well throughout the set – a risky move that pays off – while the bass and trumpets find it much easier to find their space than the mournful strings. But considering they made it all up on the spot and this was their first gig it’s an astounding success. As they learn to gel like a jazz band they’re going to get better and better too. It looks like JFB has torn up the rulebook, again.
Date: Monday 19th December 2011