POP / On Pop

'We live in Brooklyn, Baby]' sang Roy Ayers (below) 20 years ago, and still does now, although these days 'We live in London' might be more accurate. Ayers's band is called Ubiquity - a prophetic name, indeed, since he seems to pop up at small, jazzy/funky venues all over this city with alarming frequency. The London-based rare groove revival in the mid-Eighties salvaged many a shipwrecked American soul career, Ayers's being one of them. Chief booty was the all-time classic dance floor filler 'Running Away' (the one that goes 'Shooby doo, run, run, run'). Copies of his early albums still change hands for tens of pounds between goateed acid jazz types.

The effect of this steady revival of Ayers's career has been to take him from deeply cool cult status to open secret on the London live scene. There is no danger of him ever being on TOTP, however. On the one hand, halls are rarely sold out when the funky old dude in the bandana and red sneakers gets behind his vibes (a sort of mellow xylophone) and starts shaking it. But on the other hand, those who do turn up are put in touch with a lost element of the dance scene - live funk. All of which attracts a nice blend of people in their forties, thirties and twenties who have come across albums such as Star Booty from very different paths. Remember, the great Caribbean writer CLR James ended up living in obscurity in a council flat in Brixton. Funky Roy is just as much a part of London's musical heritage, and everyone should see him play, if only once.

Roy Ayers plays Clapham Grand (071-284 2200) Sat 9 Jul; Camden Jazz Cafe (071-916 6060) Thurs 14 Jul; and Ilford Island (081-514 5500) Sat 16 Jul

(Photograph omitted)

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