Friday, May 3, 2013

International Jazz Day at PizzaExpress JLT

One would not ordinarily expect dyadic combinations of British, pizza and jazz, but there is apparently a British pizzeria in Dubai that does jazz. Daily. With good pizza.

I had heard about this strange phenomenon weeks ago, but only got down to it this week, and on the day that happened to be International Jazz Day. It's called PizzaExpress, and seems to have been founded in the UK as an authentic Italian-style pizzeria, and later, a jazz club. I knew of one PizzaExpress in the Dubai WTC complex, but that is definitely not a jazz club. This one in JLT has a resident jazz pianist and entertainment manager named Nathan Hill, who performs every night, and does a jam night with a band and other guests on Tuesdays. They launched only a month before, with Keith Sweat headlining.

I was pleasantly surprised by the pizza. We ordered one smoked salmon "Salmone" pizza and one mushroom-laden "Mia Sofia" pizza in the "Romana" style, both of which were delicious. The semi-dried marinated "Rustica" tomato and "Marcona" almond intros were also really good.

As for the jazz (and, to please the crowd, its associated genres), I must say that was the biggest surprise of the night. Finding such talent - both professional and amateur - at a pizzeria in JLT just blew me away. Nathan performed and supported other jammers' performances superbly, as did the other instrumentalists. All the vocalists participating in the jam night performed with enthusiasm, and a couple of them were especially astounding in their ability to sing jazz, soul, blues and R&B.

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