Score: 8/10

Mario Biondi and his Italian Jazz Band are not new to the London jazz scene. After several gigs at the Royal Albert Hall and the legendary Ronnie Scott’s earlier this year and their participation in Incognito’s 35th Anniversary show, the Italian jazz singer and his band were once again warmly welcomed on Sunday, October 26 at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire by an audience that lacked the presence of Italians I was expecting. Thanks also to his voice and his style, Biondi is Italian but has nothing to do with Italian music, so it comes as no surprise that he has by now grown a fanbase all over the world.

It took just a couple of songs before the theatre turned into a disco dance venue. Mario’s ability to entertain the audience with his warm voice and stage presence, with his trademark shades and white “Coppola” hat, seemed

irresistible to many of the ladies in the audience who literally threw themselves toward the stage, dancing to the beats of his most famous tunes, from “If” to “Close To You” to the smash hits “A Handful of Soul” and “This Is What You Are.” The atmosphere in the theatre was the one of a chilled happy party filled with great musicianship, soulful music, and Mario’s incredible charisma.

A lovely night of soulful acid jazz from the warm south of Italy. Unmissable.