Balamii x Morley’s at Bussey Building – Friday 19th January

Idiom is a project rooted in that bloody South London you keep hearing so much about. And despite the tongue in cheek collaboration that put this night on, South has never just been the home of DIY radio and independent chicken shops.

Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin’s collaboration is a manifestation of many of the good things happening in the city’s resurgent jazz scene. There’s an ecosystem of musicians and hangers-on, each with overlapping projects and personnel, all associated with Idiom, meaning it’s a project sewn from the fabric of the city, as its collagic cover art demonstrates.

I was wondering, then, which other limbs of the South London superorganism would join wonder-pianist Armon Jones and producer-DJ Owin on stage to manifest Idiom for the night.

We got highly-in-demand saxophonist Nubya Garcia adding languorous, bittersweet textures throughout the set. There was no appearance, however, from EP vocalist Oscar Jerome. Although both him, Joe Armon-Jones and Maxwell Owin will be playing at Ghost Notes in the coming weeks – the new venue in the much-hyped Peckham Levels, whose regular Saturday clubnight, SE Discoteque, shares a name with Idiom’s pre-EP single release. That’s how interconnected it gets down here.

The set consisted of four or five songs over 10 minutes each, with long, mesmerising solos from both Joe AJ and Nubya Garcia giving form to Owin’s floating, atmospheric beats, and fuelled up by the vital energy of the live rhythm section. Morley’s sold out of 25p chicken wings before midnight, but musical satisfaction was in high supply.

With every person on stage involved in so many projects, I can’t see Idiom touring for months on end. It’s an impressive outfit – a group of musicians who didn’t let their virtuosity get in the way of the special mood created on the EP, while adding and expanding on its central themes.

Image by Seán Grannum

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