CHELSEA CARMICHAEL

African Fusion • United Kingdom
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Saxophonist, composer and arranger Chelsea Carmichael is an understated innovator and educator, quietly adding her own contribution to the iteration of jazz that has evolved on these islands. She’s a warm and hypnotic player, who brings subtle and considered improvisation to everything she does.

She’s already been part of a Mercury-nominated band – she played on SEED Ensemble’s 2019 'Driftglass' – and currently plays with Theon Cross and the hyper-popular Outlook Orchestra who play for huge audiences at major venues and festivals. She also writes and arranges for her own ensemble.

Primo cultural instigator Shabaka Hutchings noted her potential and invited her to record the first release on his new brand new lebel, Native Rebel Records. Together, they worked on a set of songs, which she recorded up at RAK studios with Eddie Hick (Sons of Kemet), Dave Okumu (The Invisible) and Tom Herbert (The Invisible; Polar Bear)
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CHELSEA CARMICHAEL The River Doesn’t Like Strangers album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
The River Doesn’t Like Strangers
African Fusion 2021

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CHELSEA CARMICHAEL The River Doesn’t Like Strangers

Album · 2021 · African Fusion
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snobb
Chelsea Carmichael is a Manchester-born and London-based tenor saxophonist who plays with such leaders of the modern London jazz scene as SEED Ensemble, Theon Cross and Joe-Armon Jones (and - as a part of Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra if you're less familiar with nowadays London's jazz scene). Still, the biggest influence on her debut's music comes from the album's producer and the London scene's leading cult personality, Shabaka Hutchings.

Soulful and dubby Jamaican spiritual jazz, often associated with different Hutchings' projects, is easily recognizable here. It wouldn't be a mistake to say that "The River Doesn’t Like Strangers" sounds like it has been recorded by a female version Shabaka Hutchings. Whereas Shabaka likes marching rhythms and attacking tempos, Chelsea plays slower, softer and and with more nuances.

"The River Doesn’t Like Strangers" is not battle hymns of Caribbean immigrants of Shepherds Bush and Peckham, it's more spiritual songs with strong reggae roots. On support, Chelsea has Sons Of Kemmet drummer Edward Wakili-Hick, Polar Bear bassist Tom Herbert and The Invisible guitarist Austria-born David Okumu. This strong band plays moody and catchy danceable music, really great at their best moments.

True, as with many of Shabaka's own albums, the music sometimes loses its direction or simply remains repeating rhythmic loops. Not a big fault for something that sounds like a ritualist soundtrack though. Strong debut on its own right, "The River..." makes one feel really curious what Chelsea will offer next.

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