In a city the size of London you can never have too many top-notch cabaret venues and now there’s a new one, QT Presents The Green Room in the basement of the Middle Eight Hotel in Covent Garden. It’s called the Green Room because it’s being curated by jazz musician and promoter Leo Green who has previous in this kind of cabaret environment. The hotel is very elegant and The Green Room’s decor echoes the hotel’s understated sophistication. It’s quite pricy but it’s at the top end of the cabaret room experience and the drinks – especially the cocktails – and the food aren’t cheap but if you want a stylish night out, this could be the place for you.
Last night, Ray Gelato and The Giants were the attraction. Ray’s been called “The Godfather of Swing” and he certainly lives up to the title. From his beautifully coiffured hair down to his shiny patent leather shoes, the besuited musician will make you an offer you can’t refuse – that is listening to seventy-five minutes or so of his kind of music. Gelato not only sings but plays superb saxophone and he’s ably backed by The Giants who last night were made up of tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, keyboards, stand-up bass and drums. They not only played superbly taking solos with style but they also backed Gelato on vocals and choreographed moves that were highly entertaining.
Musically Gelato has been influenced by the likes of Cab Calloway, Louis Prima and Count Basie amongst others. Vocally there’s a lot of Dean Martin in his voice and he opened the set with “That’s Amore” and later in the set sang “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”, both Martin standards. Then he moved through the genres with some swing, be-bop, gospel, scat and even a bit of doo wap! There was also a guest appearance by singer Dani Milano who joined Gelato to sing the delightful, very Italian “Baciami Piccina” from Gelato’s most recent album.
Gelato is a throwback to the Vegas lounge singers of the fifties and sixties, something that he alluded to and he performs with the ease of someone whose been around for over forty years. As well as singing and playing, Ray cracks the odd joke in the style of Ronnie Scott and it would have been nice to have heard a few more of those as he’s a born raconteur.
So, if you want a fun evening, singing along and clicking your fingers to standards such as “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey”, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, “Mack The Knife and many more, whilst enjoying delicious cocktails and food, QT Presents The Green Room could be the place for you. Gelato is back in May so don’t miss out if Ray’s kind of music is your kind of music too.
Review by Alan Fitter
QT, Middle Eight, 66 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5BX