Having just finished their second set at the Shoreditch Town Hall, members of Kansas Smitty’s House Band relax in the green room. Amidst the excitement, the conversation remains focused on creating new music rather than the show they just played.
“The overarching idea is to play original music,” said Giacomo Smith, the group’s saxophonist. “Anything goes as long as it’s acoustic – were not even sure about that – but as long as its original in how you play it, then it goes.”
Smith, 30, a jazz fanatic, moved to London seven years ago on a maternity leave contract with Boston University. After falling in love with the cities jazz scene he decided he couldn’t leave. Two years later Kansa Smitty’s House band was formed. The group’s members may have changed overtime however the bands core focus has remained the same, to keep it original.
The jazz group opened their self-titled bar “Kansas Smitty’s” in 2015. Found on Broadway Market in Hackney, it gives the band a venue and rehearsal space. Allowing the group to develop over the past two years.
“When we ended up with the bar, we had a permanent rehearsal space in which we could grow our own sound. It’s been completely invaluable.” Smith added, “You have a central place to descend upon whenever you need to meet for any reason,”
With the bar has come a budding fan base of Hackney residents, many of whom were in attendance Saturday night. The performance drew in a diverse and lively crowd who, were eager to see a fresh take on jazz.
Audience member, Joe, a graphic designer said: “I really liked the variety, the second half particularly, how they switched from the pianist solo to the full band stuff”
“I think London works so great because of the venues, Shoreditch Hall is a fantastic venue to watch a jazz performance.”
The energy the group displayed had a visible impact on the crowd. People of all ages could be seen tapping their feet and moving their bodies in sync to the rhythmic music.
Barbara, 52, a charity worker said: “One of the strengths of the guys is that they are very versatile, it is inspiring to see them do their own stuff and they are a fairly young group.”
The event was part of the annual EFG London Jazz Festival which brings variety of local and international musicians celebrate the genre all over the city. While being part of the festival is a major milestone for the group, they don’t get caught up in the hype of the event.
“It’s great to be part of the festival but I feel like for us it’s more about London and our scene,” Smith said. “Our bar is right up in Shoreditch so this is a big show. It’s kind of like a home game.”
The humble approach the band takes is what allows them to create music they are proud of. According to Smith, they have focused a lot on producing new sets over the last year and are excited to perform them at future shows. Smith said this performance should set the tone for the next year, allowing them to carve out a place for themselves in the London Jazz scene.
“The adventure is all starting again,” Smith said. “It’s really liberating to be with musician that you love and be able to make original music. There’s no place like London where that can thrive.”
[Feature image: Kansas Smitty’s]