Henry Wu presents: Jaco Pastorius with Tom Driessler


By Amelia Beltrao

Considered much as a haven for its alternative lifestyle and underground music life, Camden seemed like a suitable location to introduce me to the jazz funk of Tom Driessler. Taking place in the Jazz Café, the night was introduced to me as a tribute to the works of Jaco Pastorius, where I was expecting leading bass lines imitating the work of the legend, with secondary instrumentals. However, between an electric guitar, a set of drums, and a keyboard, the act produced a pleasant twist on the legend’s work.

The modest staging, moody lighting and quirky sign displays helped set a blithe tone for the evening, with the venue welcoming music lovers to engage with unanimous head bobbing at the feet of the stage or to enjoy the performance with dinner overlooking the balcony.

With Driessler on guitar, Saleem Raman on drums, and Joe Armon-Jones on keys, the trio neatly played around with the fabric of expectations that came with the homage. Even in the absence of the traditional saxophone, each piece distinctively contributed to a relatively even playing field, helping elevate this jazz trio to great heights. Each song offered an opportunity for exploration and alternatives, ranging from powerful drum leads, consistent hard-strummed bass chords, and keyboard instrumental variations. 

With none of them being bound to a traditional jazz structure, there were constant developments in the delivery of the bass. Inviting keyboardist Armon-Jones to carry some of the bass-lines added instrumental colour to the performance, as it also allowed Driessler to switch onto electric guitar melodies, facilitating a more expansive tone. 

The natural mutability that ran throughout the set harnessed some really stylish sounds, as well as sustaining an intimate feel-good atmosphere amongst the audience. The trio delivered a polished performance of jazz, that would make any fan of Jaco Pastorius proud.