Professional dancer and singer Karen Ruimy took to the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells Theatre to bring together two of her passions – Flamenco and jazz music. In this show, she brings together exciting, foot-tapping numbers from her album ‘Black Coffee’ with a live musical ensemble, including Flamenco dancers and musicians, from Spain and the United Kingdom. Released earlier this year, her EP ‘Black Coffee’ features a selection of covers in English, French and Spanish, blending Jazz ballads with a distinctive Latin flavour. Collaborating with the late producer Phil Ramone, Ruimy accesses musical influences from different cultures and fuses them together in what proved to be a thoroughly enchanting production.
The show opens with first three songs of the evening, namely ‘Black Coffee’, ‘Stormy Weather’ and ‘Video Games’ are sung by Ruimy and beckon us into the show’s jazz influences. This is followed by a shift towards Flamenco, with guitarist Jose Almarcha and Flamenco singer Francisco Blanco introducing the musical style to us. Ruimy returns to stage with a medley of much-loved songs like ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, ‘Dream A Little Dream’ and ‘J’ai Deux Amours’ that tug us back into soft jazz. From here on, we witness a wonderfully crafted introduction of Latino music in the set with covers of ‘Alegria’, ‘La Llorona’ and ‘Viente Años’ by Ruimy.
As the Flamenco flavours begin to return to the rhythm, we witness a stunning solo performance by Flamenco dancer Francisco Hidalgo. His precise movements and unwavering energy are ably matched by a stellar musical arrangement by singer Francisco Blanco, guitarist Jose Almarcha and drummer Demi Garcia. The evening culminates with a soulful rendition of ‘La Vie en Rose’ by Ruimy and a Flamenco duet with Hidalgo. The overall musical ensemble, including musicians Giorgio Serci, John Crawford, Alec Dankworth, Gerry Diver as well as backing singers Brian Chambers and Jill Marie Cooper, are on top of their game. Together, they effortlessly shift between different musical arrangements and treatments.
Full credits are due to the musical director of the show Youth (Martin Glover) for crafting a sonically pleasing mix of diverse musical influences and instruments together in a consummate design. Some of the musical numbers are accompanied by a measured duet by two contemporary dancers whose naturalistic choreography seeks to add a visual flavour to Ruimy’s voice. Ruimy is a complete performer in herself, drawing upon her years of performing experience to command a lively presence on stage. She deftly manages her vocal and movement performance with swift transitions between musical styles, balancing the roaring energy of Flamenco with a smooth, self-assured nature of Jazz.
To summarize, Jazz Meets Flamenco is an eclectic celebration of diverse cultural influences by Karein Ruimy that is thoroughly entertaining to experience.
Jazz Meets Flamenco had a limited run at the Lilian Baylis Studio at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Read more about the show here: https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/whenjazzmeetsflamenco/
Reviewer: Gaurav Singh Nijjer
Reviewed: 25th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★