MARTA Capponi is one of the most exciting vocalists to hit the London jazz scene in many years. Her tender voice guarantees goose bumps from the off. She’s exquisite, delicate and sultry all in one. A major talent who is as comfortable improvising as she is putting her own stamp on classic jazz numbers.
Since appearing at Ronnie Scott’s in late December 2018 (with Antonio Forcione) and thrilling the audience with her haunting Xhosa sounds, Capponi has been busy. She’s had a child (Leonardo), spent a lot of time in her homeland of Italy with husband Emiliano Caroselli (a brilliant musician in his own right) and has managed to put together her first album, Life Within (recorded when she was heavily pregnant with Leonardo).
On Monday night (February 28), while the London skies were full of light rain, she gave her new album a belated airing at the magnificent 606 Club in Chelsea – her first live performance since May 2019 when, heavily pregnant, she also appeared at the 606 Club. Although obviously nervous, she didn’t show it and there wasn’t a cobweb in sight – despite Tom (master of ceremonies) describing them as the ‘best unrehearsed band in London’.
Although Caroselli (set to play drums) was forced to take care of Leonardo for the night, Capponi was given super support from Alban Claret on guitar, an enthusiastic Joel Belford on drums (hats off to him for stepping into the breach at the very last moment) and a quite magnificent Ross Stanley on Hammond Organ. Stanley’s mastery of the organ was quite extraordinary – a concert within a concert. He wouldn’t look out of place taking on the Grand Organ at Westminster Cathedral.
The night was split into two halves. The first set, understandably, was dedicated to Life Within with Capponi starting with a Brooks Bowman classic East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon). This was followed by a thrilling version of September In The Rain (like East Of The Sun, covered by Sinatra) with Capponi’s beautiful and gentle voice complemented by the swooping sounds of Stanley’s organ.
Covers of Bye Bye Blackbird, Caravan and Honey Suckle Rose were rapturously received although the song of the first set was a scintillating version of Billie Holiday’s I’ll Be Seeing You. Every word sung was emphasised and lingered on. The interpretation sucked breath from those watching. Hairs stood on end. A triumph, aided and abetted by Stanley’s organ. Capponi’s ability to scat drew comparisons with Cleo Laine.
The second set saw her slightly more relaxed, maybe released from the shackles of her album. It was time to play some of the songs which may appear on an album to be recorded later this year – Louisa, Cole Porter’s Love For Sale (infused with some mighty fine scatting), Nina Simone’s I Love Your Lovin’ Ways, and Nat King Cole’s Love and Never Let Me Go.
The encore was Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy with Capponi deliciously teasing the audience with her haunting Xhosa sounds.
Capponi is a refreshing force for good. With an inner calm, gentleness and kindly smile on stage, she’s hard not to fall in love with. Success beckons if she really wants it – maybe her teaching in Italy and her family are more important. Time will tell.
Life Within can be downloaded via https://martacapponijazz.bandcamp.com/album/life-within
Forthcoming events at 606 Club can be found at https://www.606club.co.uk/
As the 606 Club’s Steve Rubie reminds us on a regular basis: support live music. Absolutely.