David Priest at Taika & Sugar Creek Lounge

David Priest Quartet
Taika & Sugar Creek Lounge
Sundays 4-8 pm

David Priest was a tower on the London jazz scape in the 1980s and spent two decades in Vancouver before returning to London over three years ago. We're lucky to have him back.

Playing Sundays from 4-8 pm at Taika & Sugar Creek Lounge, Priest brings well-seasoned London musicians to form quartets and trios that are tight and attuned, providing a classic instrumental jazz experience in a relaxed, warm venue that serves great sushi, desserts and other fare.

I was there a week ago Sunday for the second set, when Priest was joined by John Culjak on guitar, John Knapp on drums, and Art Covey on bass.

This group's dynamism, connection, and low-key grit allowed them to deliver a smooth set of classics that included Girl Talk, In a Mellow Tone, Django, Moanin', and Song for My Father. For those who have heard Priest on a piano, note that he draws nuance and articulation from his electric keyboard, as well. Guitar solos by Culjak have ease and vibrance and Knapp brings a notably unique percussive sound to Moanin' in which the cymbals get to have their say.

This group clearly enjoys playing together and their rapport with one another translates into a warm and unencumbered connection with the audience.

Priest works the room between sets evidently because many audience members are loyal fans and friends who know they can hear fresh, laid-back jazz when Priest is at the helm. During the set, the musicians chat and laugh and enjoy the process of making music. Priest intends to invite guest artists including an occasional vocalist, but even with the same roster each week there is lots of reason to make repeat visits to this gig.

With the end of March drawing near, one begins to imagine that this intimate, bright venue, walled by windows and nestled in near the Proudfoot Lane apartments, might soon be able to expand to include its outdoor patio as part of this fun musical experience. One can only hope.

In the meantime, the place was hopping with jazz enthusiasts the day I was there - let's keep it that way.

Taika & Sugar Creek Lounge is located at 400 Sugarcreek Trail near Proudfoot Lane.

El Neill is a London freelance writer and lover of all things jazz.