NÉRIJA — Blume (review)

NÉRIJA — Blume album cover Album · 2019 · African Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Big expectations are not always a great thing. Young London-based septet with unusual(at least for English scene) name Nérija are playing around London for a half of decade and already has one release in a market - self released EP coming from 2016. All-female band with interesting guitarist of Ghanaian roots Shirley Tetteh and rising British scene star reedist Nubya Garcia on board among others sounded at their best as new growing scene leaders.

Just released "Blume" is band's first full size album so no strange lot of ears waited for the day it be released. After repeated listening I still have a mixed feeling about their debut.

With minimal line-up changes (they got a new bassist and first male member Rio Kai instead of Inga Eichler) their music sounds a bit different. Massive brass coming from four-piece reeds section on the front gives solid orchestral feel, they still play same successful mix of Caribbean/African rhythms and big band orchestrations with some nice trumpet and sax solos.

The main problem is probably they went too safe on their debut. Sound is pretty rounded and soft, really comfortable and quite ... teeth-less. London's young jazz scene doesn't offer lot of inventions, best artists there re-vitalize some best jazz and related music from the past but do it with youngish enthusiasm and often in non-compromise way. Jazz fans from allover the world follow new music coming from there mostly because of that. Nérija with their debut album made a safe step often sounding more like Cape jazz from 60s than today's Londoners.

Their signature guitar sound over reeds is less groovy and mixed more on the back, that's a pity. Nubya Garcia's tenor sax is under-exploited, on her own works as well as on her other collaborations Nubya's sax very often pumping the blood in musical texture, here her sound is presented only in minimalist way.

Still really a pleasant music, just probably oriented a bit more towards ageing fans of 70s jazz orchestras than to young generation of today's jazz fans.
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