Oscar Jerome – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 20th September 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Just what are they putting in the water in London? From Tom Misch to Puma Blue and Ezra Collective, young musicians have been exploring the jazz genre, and turned it into a malleable, popular commodity. Another in the long line of jazz revivalists is Oscar Jerome, a classically trained guitarist who’s turned his efforts to making brilliant soul-meets-jazz. His show at The Hope & Ruin was not only testament to his talents as an artist, but to the popularity the revisited genre has achieved.

Support on the night came from relative newcomer, Scoop Monty, who kickstarted the night with his smooth jams. With a four-piece band behind him, and bringing a lot of the audience along with him, it was an impressive and confident set that showcased his soothing vocal performance. Debut single, ‘Only Once or Twice’ is proof of this, with a woozy neo-soul backdrop perfectly accompanying his varied vocals.

By the time that Oscar Jerome made his way to the stage, however, The Hope & Ruin was packed to the rafters. With groups of young people desperately clamouring to the front, with middle aged viewers nearer the back, it’s clear to see Jerome’s widespread appeal. His music on the night proved that, too, with a heady mix of jazz, pop and soul creating a wholesome and extensive sound that has enough variety to appeal to everyone.

There’s an intelligence to Jerome, both musically and intellectually, that is a joy to watch. Whether he’s introducing songs by telling the crowd which book it was inspired by, talking about James Baldwin’s influence on ‘Where Are Your Branches (Where Is Your Fruit)’, or introducing each member of his band multiple times throughout the night, it’s clear that Jerome is, in his heart, a true music lover and loves what he’s doing.

There’s a reciprocation from the crowd on the night, likewise. Especially with latest single ‘Do You Really’, a beautiful poppy number that delights in its eccentricities. Proving popular with the crowd, the backing vocals are sung back to Jerome by a large number of the sold out crowd, which puts a huge smile on the musician’s face. Equally rewarded by new song ‘Misty Head, Sunny Street’, which suggests there’s more of the same to come from the brilliant artist, it’s clear already that Jerome has won himself a largely loyal following.

During the night, Jerome states that he used to just declare himself “a guitarist” and was incredibly proud of the fact. Final song, ‘Smile on the Screen’, certainly reinforced that fact with an epic guitar solo that was essentially Jimi Hendrix-meets-George Benson and was rewarded with the biggest burst of applause I’ve ever encountered at The Hope & Ruin. Immensely talented, incredibly eloquent, and loving every minute of it, Oscar Jerome provided an immensely entertaining evening and is more than worthy of joining the London jazz revivalist scene.

Liam McMillen

Website: oscarjerome.com
Facebook: facebook.com/oscjerome
Twitter: twitter.com/oscjerome