The Sierra Platinum Lounge pulled a novel one on the Kenyan scene and held a Jazz night this past Saturday. The Gentlemen part of it sounded spectacularly interesting so I though why not? A couple of girlfriends and I made it a plan.
I'm not much of a socialite but the idea of an evening jazz event complete with dinner struck me as a non-jeans event. So I went out of my way and picked out a dress (I never wear dresses other than at weddings and even then it's with effort) for the evening. As I was feeling very un-me-ish (what with the dress and all) I got there on time. 7:30pm sharp which was the time the event was slotted to begin.
My first impression of the venue was disappointing. The chairs had been arranged the way they would be at a press conference; lined up facing the stage. I'd expected table seating. Then the venue is filled with pillars that seemingly erect themselves when your not looking blocking the view of the stage.
With my initial frown out of the way, I sat me down next to my pals and ordered up a drink. Being your average Kenyan I was very watchful of how the drinks were being dispensed. You see the admittance promised dinner and drinks so I wasn't sure if it was 1, 2 or 3 per person. Again as an average Kenyan, you can imagine the pulse of joy that hit me when I realized it was an open bar. They could belt out all the crap they wanted in the name of jazz but I'd still be happy.
It quickly became apparent that a jazz event is not the venue to snag yourself a man in this country. Absolutely all men present (save perhaps for the waiters) were accounted for. The one guy who seemed to be staring inquisitively at a far away spot in the horizon thus garnering himself an air of sophisticated mystery was probably just short sighted and trying to make out the band. And besides, his chick turned up before long.
So the first guy on stage was Anto Neo Soul. He has a good voice and sings well. For me, this was overshadowed by the way he went ahead to lecture us a number of times. First he called out the guys for not making an effort to dress up. Then he called all of us out for daring to speak in a pedestrian manner while attending a jazz event .. He called for more sophistication from his audience. Then he told us he was famous coz he's in Shugga ... Ita waaaaiter!!!
Next up was "The Itch". These guys blew my mind! I'd seen the main singing guy (who's name I can't recall or find online) walking around the lounge and had thought that he looked familiar in a commonplace manner. Kind of like that face that's always there at some music event or other. When he stepped up to the mic I realized that he was very far from the boy-next-door. And the way he carried those notes with eyes shut and head thrown back in total engrossment, made him very sexy indeed with his small shirt, fitting jeans and loose dreadlocks (Spinster focus!). I was happy. There's him but there's also the band. The way those guys played made it clear that they had a very personal relationship with their instruments and their fond interaction had payed off. I'm a rock fan myself and what those guys did on stage satiated my rock loving soul.
Maqbul was host and that was a good thing as he has an easy sense of humour and a great deep voice. So he informs us that Change Quartet (which had been my star attraction to the event) had changed its name to something that sounded like Gabon (maybe Cabon? Quoi bonne?) So seems they lost one of their number being the sax guy. And seems said sax guy pulled a dramatic move little before they were to get on stage. The show must go on. That being said they were OK. Couldn't help feeling a little sorry for them. Especially since they were playing immediately after such an itchingly brilliant performance.
For the Kenyans I must explain this. Dinner was made up of an array of bitings. I know that when I say this, what comes to mind are fish fingers, chicken wings and prawns. No. I think that what they served draws from the very etymology of the word - a bite. You'd get those Chinese ceramic soup spoons with a carefully measured cube of say pork on it. Then there was the fishy thing I came to learn was lobster. The oily thing I came to learn was lamb & rice. And a wonderful soup. To my great chagrin, these small servings filled me up. And besides, as a kawaida Kenyan, drinks through an open bar are far more impressive than food.
All in all I'd say it was a worthwhile evening.