The crowd that takes their seats on the vermillion benches lining the interior of Phoenix Central Park is a motley crew – a huge range of ages and hairstyles, dressed in everything from active wear to Gormanesque prints to the standard jazz uniform of 40 shades of black. These certainly aren’t die-hard jazzheads; I overheard the women next to me, possibly in their early 70s, say that they have no idea about the band they are here to hear, but they read about the venue and thought it would be a cool thing to go to. They are correct.
Tonight is the third night of STRATA, a jazz festivalput together by drummer and composer Laurence Pike. Each night for four nights, three acts play one-hour sets in this extraordinary room. But it’s more three standalone shows rather than a traditional festival – each gig is ticketed separately and by ballot, so you’re unlikely to get into all three. Which is a shame, as Pike has thoughtfully curated each evening with an emerging act, an established outfit and a legend, and certainly tonight’s acts work beautifully as a triptych.