Theaster Gates Played a Two-Hour Set at a London Jazz Club Last Night

You don’t get to hear much gospel music in London, but American artist and musician Theaster Gates changed that late Wednesday night when, in the presence of English art world royalty assembled for Frieze Week including artist Marc Quinn and Jay Jopling of White Cube — where Gates currently has a solo show — the heavily bearded artist played a rousing, spiritual, and utterly inspired two-hour set at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Frith Street in Soho.

The music was deep, real, and gritty and confirmed Gates as an art world prodigy and indeed someone with the potential to carve out a place for himself in wider popular culture.

In among the emptiness of the Frieze fairs and the triviality of all the sales talk, his performance — with his band, the Black Monks of Mississippi, a loose ensemble of five invited soloists — struck a powerful note of social and cultural realism.

— Benjamin Genocchio