It was yet another cold and gusty night in Wellington, but Hashigo Zake, the small, hidden, basement bar off of Taranaki Street was warm and comfortable. But definitely not dry (just check their range of beers). In short, a perfect place for funk jazz mushrooms and their fans.

King Oyster is the work of Oscar Lavën on various saxophones, Blain Fitzpatrick on bass, and Jacob Randall on the skins. They’ve been playing together for almost five years now under that moniker. But don’t be deceived by their logo: it is a very clever disguise.

Oscar wears many genres and he wears them well: classical, jazz, big band, and more, but watching him play funk evokes a mix of happiness for him and feeling happy oneself. Released from the bondage of jazz “rules” and the standards, the musicians roam free, and the audience can’t help but follow them into new territories.

Case in point: along with his typical tenor sax, Oscar played a fat and juicy baritone “baz” sax – so sexy – that fit perfectly into the funky groove laid down by Blain and Jacob.

Blain’s bass can sing, tap dance, be an orchestra, be a choir, be anything you need to swing the room up and down, back and forward. His solos are always stories that leave you giddy and begging for more.

Add Jacob’s tight and clear—in all senses: check his drum kit the next time you see it—rolls, weaving in and out of the other instrument parts so naturally, so smoothly, adds a sharp edge to the image to perfect it.

Altogether, seasoned with quotes and musical jokes, the show was a tasty dish well served. So much so that the audience was loath to let them go and begged for more in a way that I’ve never seen before.

Luckily, King Oyster are regulars at Hashigo Zake, so watch the space and make sure you are there—on time—next time lest miss all the funky fun.

By Charlie Queen