OXO musician Budley LaRoar answers our questions
OXO musician Budley LaRoar provides our Brasserie with more than a touch of Hollywood glamour! With her Ella-inspired vocals, cocktail drum brushes and a dash of Wes Montgomery, she weaves her way through the magical melodies of the great American songbook.
Where are you from and how did you come to be in London?
I moved to London to join the live music scene after graduating from university in Cambridge. Although I’d consider myself a Londoner, my roots are in Bolton, Lancashire – and the north still has the best pies in the world.
How would you describe your music?
Great American songbook jazz with a bluesy vocal style, recalling the warm tone and personality of early jazz singers such as Billie Holiday. The American songbook is such a treasure trove of songs. Writers like George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington created sublime melodies with witty, urbane lyrics that still resonate with people today. I enjoy singing in a pared down format with a guitarist because it allows interplay and improvisation. I play with a great jazz guitarist Andrea Rinciari, and we have a really amazing energy when we work together.
What artists inspire you?
Billie Holiday’s voice was the soundtrack to my childhood, and her unique delivery still brings on the goosebumps. It’s personal, raw and yet sophisticated. I also enjoy jogging around Alexandra Palace Park with Charlie Parker and Hard boppers like Clifford Brown on the headphones – there’s something about bebop that encourages a spritely step! It’s challenging and exciting to transcribe bebop! I have also been enjoying Slow Rolling Camera’s new album Juniper.
What is the best gig you’ve seen recently?
Brandon Allen’s Gean Ammons project at Crazy Coqs London. It was so inspiring to see Britain’s best tenor saxophonist performing up close. He’s a bold, brave player with a beautiful tone and emotional range.
What are your career highlights?
This probably sounds corny, but I get to play with some of the best jazz musicians in London, and every time I get to hang out with those cats is a highlight! I did have fun with my sister Kitty when we did some sessions at Abbey Road Studios recently.
What does the future hold?
I am writing a vocal album of songs paying homage to London, the place I feel I have truly grown up in. London is a glittering and optimistic city, but it’s breathtaking how life’s winners and losers are so cheek by jowl – jazz captures that bitter sweetness so well. I am also writing and performing regularly with my sister Kitty LaRoar, and it has been great to develop a sound with two voices with such similar tone.
What do you love about London?
Drinks on the South Bank and the Festival Hall, fabulous sophisticated bars, wonderful parks and green spaces, the fact you can jump on a Tube and be in a different neighbourhood within 10 minutes.
What do you love about the OXO Tower?
There’s such a glorious view of London, of course! It’s an amazing backdrop – the sunset on the river with the glowing reds and pinks against the skyline. The food is modern, accessible and fresh with impeccable flavour, and every time I visit, the team are super friendly and welcoming.
What is your favourite drink?
Negroni. I do like a cocktail where you can taste the booze!
What’s your sartorial style?
Vintage, vintage, vintage, with spots!
What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?
I’m a simple creature…it’s a spotty dress!
OXO Jazz is in the Brasserie daily.
Check out the OXO Jazz schedule to see when Budley LaRoar is playing in the Brasserie, along with OXO’s other incredible musical talents.
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