Roy Ayers, King of Neo-Soul, still vibing at 77

RnB/Hip Hop | Thursday 30th November 2017 | Alice

This week, Roy Ayers, the most sampled man in hip hop, played intimate shows with his band at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. Ayers entranced a club full of adoring vinyl heads, with soul, hip hop and jazz fans of every age coming out to celebrate this seminal artist.

For the Monday show that I attended, he was supported by Poppy Adjuda, a jazz inspired RnB crooner whose sounds set the scene for an intimate evening. Her sound is clean, soulful and rich, with her band contributing modern electronic twists to her classic vibe.

When it comes to Roy Ayers, the queen herself Erykah Badu has called him the ‘king of neo-soul.’ His songs have been sampled by some of the most respected names in the hip hop and beat scenes including Quasimoto and Madlib, DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, the Pharcyde, MF Doom, Slum Village and the queen Mary J. Blige. He's also a superstar in his own right with hits like ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine,’ and ‘Searchin,’ both of which should be part of everyone's summer/road-trip playlist.



Ray and the band worked like a well oiled machine. The set was organised with effortless precision while intricate solos on the keys, drums and vibes sent the audience into a frenzy.

It’s the arrangement of solos that makes the live experience so special. It’s a chance to see a total legend perform not only as the songwriter and singer we know him as, but as a bandleader, curating the entire experience for the audience.

The man himself, totally exceeded our expectations. Roy Ayers’ performance was incredible. You can see that this man lives for the moments that he shares with his audiences and that he doesn't take that relationship too seriously. This makes it all the more enjoyable to watch him play as he gets closer to his 80th year - the crowd feeds him and the music keeps him young, still playing the music of his youth. His voice and enthusiasm for his songs has not faded, and his vibraphone skills are as hot as ever.

It was an honour to simply have the opportunity to see a legend play in the flesh. I can only imagine the feelings of Poppy Adjuda and Roy Ayers' band - Poppy being able to share a stage with him and his band to be able to be led by him. The legend lives on.