Jungle By Night may not be a name on everyone’s radar - but they more than should be. The nine-piece instrumental collective, hailing from Amsterdam, has a sound that lies somewhere in the middle of jazz, afrobeat (I’m talking your uncle’s favourite Fela) and funk. The group has been steadily making a name for themselves since forming in 2009, playing everywhere from smaller venues like the Duke of Cumberland in Whitstable to renowned festivals like Pinkpop, North Sea Jazz and Glastonbury. Having spent their down time between albums scoring the stage production of The Jungle Book, the boys descended on the sold out Jazz Cafe last Friday, to celebrate the launch of their 5th album, Livingstone, having previously teased only a handful of new tracks at their last London show in March.
Opening the show with an incredible solo from trumpeter Bo Floor, it seems apparent that with each album, their sound has become more refined and the multicultural influences are more readily heard. This album is undoubtedly more global and anthemic, with songs like “The Fog”, and “Spectacles”, parts 1 and 2, sounding like they could be taken straight off a spy thriller soundtrack. Overall, this new album takes on a decidedly more dance vibe than its predecessor The Traveller.
That being said, the spirit of what makes a Jungle By Night show a Jungle By Night show was still there: with each member getting their moment to shine with solos, dismantled trombones, djembe breakdowns, and more jumping than is probably advisable.
Whilst taking a quick breather to chat, trombonist Ko Zandvliet explained that they wanted to capture the essence and the heat of the previous Dutch summer, even going so far as to record ambient bird sounds at the countryside house where the album was made, on songs such as “Hangmat”. So if the plan was to make a hot album, a party album, a get-up-and-dance album, then judging by the crowd that night, they more than succeeded.
The band closed out the show with a new interpretation of their thundering classic “Attila,” proving once again why they’re worth seeing again and again. Go alone, go with a crew, either way you’ll have a great time, because their infectious energy makes Jungle By Night an act not to be missed.