Laura Macdonald’s ‘Cooking with Jazz’ at Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2022 – London Jazz News
“Cooking with Jazz” by Laura Macdonald‘
(Piccolo tent, George Square Gardens, July 22, 2022. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. Live review by Patrick Hadfield)
Eighth day of a very busy jazz festival, and I was starting to falter. Need something to cheer me up; saxophonist Laura MacDonald does not disappoint. Her direct approach to jazz is always a simple delight, and she rarely plays in Edinburgh, so I seek her out whenever she does. The perfect palate cleanser, if you will…
…because since qualifying for the MasterChef 2021 final, she has been leading a double life: under the kitchen name Laura Michael, she is developing a second career as a chef. It was the first concert to combine his two jobs – a quintet show around the theme of food.
She was joined in the kitchen – sorry, on stage – by her regular and always excellent rhythm section of Mario Caribe on bass, Alyn Cosker on the battery and Kevin McKenzie on guitar, with special guest Helen Kay to tenor.
start with Sugarall food related tunes, from Dexter Gordon’s Cheesecake (of go) up to Louis Armstrong All that meat and no potatoes. It’s rich tailoring – part of the fun was guessing which culinary numbers would make the cut. The band played with a relaxed swing, propelled by Caribe’s double bass. Macdonald and Kay’s playing was well balanced, the tenor contrasting with Macdonald’s alto.
The first set ended with a short cooking demonstration; as the band kicked off an easy groove behind her, Macdonald made honeycomb honey from golden syrup and baking powder, and shared earlier-prepared samples of a honeycomb-decorated orange cake of bee, which pleased the public very well. It was the first concert I attended that had its own allergen leaflet!
Returning after intermission, the stage stripped of all cooking paraphernalia, Macdonald admitted she had been nervous about how the demonstration might go. But she also relished the chance to bring her two passions together, both of which can require improvisation. Music front and center, Macdonald’s flowing style was a recipe for a good time.