The Lizard Lounge was the place to be in the 90s for anyone in Edinburgh with a penchant for hip-hop, jazz or salsa. Rarely operating at anything less than full capacity, the event attracted talent from across the globe.
Despite its history, the one-off celebration proved to be accessible, with Joe Malik, the Edinburgh based artist, providing the initial performance. This never ventured too far into the realms of musical obscurity or pretension. Indeed there is always a danger with jazz – and especially acts like ‘The Rhumba Caliente Afro Latin Soul Orchestra’ – that those less acquainted with the complex genealogy of the genre will be warded off by semantics.
This initially inoffensive pace quickened when hip-hop star Ty appeared, and he wasted no time in diving into the front row to whip up some mayhem.
It’s hard to fault the artists, but the general impression at the venue was hardly intimate. The show also lost momentum from the painfully slow changeover times between acts. How long does it take to set up a pair of bongos and test a microphone?
Not surprisingly there was also a certain amount of nostalgia from the Lizard veterans, complete with the familiar scene of a hip-hop artist firing off a string of dedications to the deceased. There was, however, a respectable sized crowd of fans too young to have caught the first incarnation of Lizard Lounge. A diverse bunch, they swaggered and traipsed in short skirts, suspenders, and heavy eye liner; sports jackets and Star Wars T-shirts.
Safely ‘alternative’, like the music on offer this only occasionally went beyond the mildly entertaining, and failed to prove as arrestingly frank and interesting as some jazz music can.