There was a time not long ago when tourists rarely ventured east of Russell Square unless to take in the bloody history of the Tower of London or for a hammy Jack The Ripper tour of Whitechapel. Now, the easterly new media pockets of Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston boast an appealing accessibility, both figuratively and literally. (Love that Overground.)
And while Dalston nightlife used to require a keen instinct for shoegazing party-rumors, inevitably leading to a dingy basement filled with 17-year-old interns trying to pass for 30-something zine publishers and vice versa, today the area is something quite different.
Walk down Kingsland Road, and you'll be overwhelmed by its choice of galleries, cafes, shops and mysterious concept-coves. One such cove is Brilliant Corners.
Brilliant Corners' live interpretations of jazz staples draw a devoted crowd — Photo courtesy of Brilliant Corners
Brilliant Corners is a bar, kitchen and music venue that opened in early 2014 and has already hosted London's jazz powerhouses for its Played Twice series, in which iconic albums from the likes of Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk are played once, followed immediately by a live "reinterpretation" to a revved up audience.
Owners Aneesh and Amit Patel have taken a modest space and turned it into something unique and impressive: a venue with the versatility to be both a hotspot for pre-night-out drinking and a hidden treasure for London's tastemakers, to showcase both its cutting-edge take on food and drink, and its own soporific, ultra-cool approach to something relatively niche.
It's a pair of rooms with the subtle strangeness of a foley studio and, at a 120-person capacity, the stylish intimacy of a members' club, making it a pretty unbeatable date spot.
Go for the Japanese snacks (like salmon saikyoyaki and vegan "scallops") and organic wines, averaging at £8 and £6, respectively.
The venue is overrun with subtle sensory touches — Photo courtesy of Brilliant Corners
Come April, Brilliant Corners will be paying homage to a heavy hitter, namely, Miles Davis, and the "audiophile playback of his seminal album Miles Smiles," led by trumpeter Quentin Collins, who will be playing live to ticketed guests.
The series is a hybrid of musical reverie and, of course, audio-geek indulgence.
"We started Played Twice because we recognized that, for jazz music to best reveal itself, especially to audiences who are relatively on the fence about jazz music, it should be played on a great sound system," explains Patel brother Amit. "At Brilliant Corners, we've taken care to install the best sound system. That means modified turntables, valve amplifiers and horn driver corner speakers. Hence the name Brilliant Corners."
Check out Brilliant Corners' line-up in advance. All Played Twice nights are ticketed, so snag them before they're gone.