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London's jazz scene: the new jazz generation

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    Posted: 06 Aug 2019 at 7:19am

London’s burgeoning new breed of genre-blind, rhythmically direct jazz musicians has been attracting youthful, multi-cultural audiences not seen in the UK for a generation, pioneering a radical and overdue shift in perception.

With the US and Europe onside, Britain’s broadsheets joining in the acclaim, a Shabaka Hutchings-produced album, We Out Here, compiling the scene’s key voices, and many of those musicians returning this month to the Love Supreme Jazz Festival, Nick Hasted sits down in London with Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Theon Cross and Joe Armon-Jones to discover where the scene began, what it stands for and where it’s heading a year after Jazzwise first covered it

“To me it’s a very mystical time,” Moses Boyd says of the current decade’s dawn. “Because everything was perfect. It had all the ingredients ready to make it.”

The early 2010s was when Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Theon and Nathaniel Cross and Joe Armon-Jones all started college in London, and spent equal time in a South London clubland suddenly open to jazz’s possibilities. This was the milieu where this new generation of now 25- and 26-year-olds brewed the sounds which are breaking jazz towards the UK mainstream for the first time since the early 1990s.

Shabaka Hutchings is, at 33, the scene’s elder and international figurehead, the first name on the lips of the European and US jazz industry as his relentlessly burning energy fuels Shabaka and the Ancestors, The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet. Hutchings has also just recorded himself and the generation rising up alongside him on an LP snapshot of the scene, We Out Here. Though its jams aren’t anyone’s best work, it’s an enjoyable overview of the movement’s sonic reach, from Maisha’s softly ecstatic spiritual jazz to Boyd’s tough dancefloor beats and icy synths. Musicians morph between tracks like individual cells in a single, growing organism. Hutchings’ recent signing to Universal, Ashley Henry’s to Sony, and Nérija becoming the Arctic Monkeys’ labelmates on rock indie Domino shows how an industry which had written off jazz smells commercial blood in the water.

Moses Boyd (photo: Tim Dickeson)

Boyd, Maisha/Nérija and solo saxophonist Nubya Garcia, Sons of Kemet tuba-player Theon Cross and Ezra Collective keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones are gathered in the exceedingly mellow Stoke Newington HQ of Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Records, which released We Out Here. Jazzwise, of course, covered them all early, but broadsheet features announcing jazz’s reborn cool are now reaching epidemic proportions. One has just hit the stands as a Sunday supplement cover story when we meet.

“Yes, Mumsy bought The Observer on Sunday,” Garcia laughs. “How many do you need?”

“I’m glad we were doing it before the interest or the hype, whatever you want to call it,” says Boyd, of this rapidly rising profile. “Because it gave us time to work on it away from any influence. And now it’s come at the right time.” Boyd began playing 10 years ago, aged 16, when jazz was a dirty word in the mainstream, not least among his Catford peers. Though jazz is music of black origin, UK jazz gigs showed it had lost its black audience. Choosing to become a jazz drummer then must have been an isolating choice. “Not in my head,” he laughs. “But in everyone else’s head, I think it was!”

“Help came from certain nights that made an effort to bring in an audience who wouldn’t normally attend jazz,” Cross recalls. “So the music we make is important, but as important is who promoted Jazz Re:freshed, and Steez. They marketed our creative projects to more than people of a certain age and background.”

Garcia remembers Steez, a club night which moved across several small South London venues in the 2010s, as an especially crucial catalyst. “It started with us bringing our friends there, producers and DJs and creatives that we grew up with at college. So that opened up the varied people in the room. And then those people had a sick time, and word of mouth is really powerful. Even with current nights now, like Steam Down in Deptford, it’s a small venue and word of mouth. Not that much online activity. We started getting write-ups in all these magazines, but people are talking about it because it’s enjoyable, it’s fun. And all of those nights are cheap, or free. It makes it inviting.”

“There were maybe six live bands on the line-up, and poetry, and DJs,” Armon-Jones says, conjuring the scene at Steez. “The place is packed from 6pm, closes at 3am, and the last three hours would just be some jam session. And that was a really special thing. Shout to [promoter] Luke Newman, because he really pulled it off, man. There was a period of time when all of these bands who are playing now could be seen in a little pub in Lewisham like the Fox and Firkin for five or even three pounds all night. And it built up trust that if you go to Steez, or you go to Jazz Re:freshed, you’re going to see that kind of energy, whoever’s playing.”

Nubya Garcia (photo: Tim Dickeson)

This new crowd arrived with no preconceptions. “I think it’s beautiful that, specifically with Steez, it wasn’t like they were expecting anything from a jazz band,” Garcia explains. “They were gassed to have a good time. They went to DJ nights more than live gigs, and so to have the mixture of both of those things in one invited a new audience that hadn’t experienced what we were doing before.”

These nights were the underground basis for something broader than the records and gigs which are now rising overground. As with previous club-based scenes, from bebop at Minton’s in 1940s Harlem to London’s grime scene now, all agree that their music is one facet of a way of life. “Outside of the music and the artists,” Boyd observes, “what we do has created an infrastructure and ecosystem: presenters, nights, events. So it’s growing in that way as well. There’s Touching Bass, who put on a lot of nights and talks, or someone like Tej Adeleye, a great writer who did the liner notes for We Out Here.” Indeed, Adeleye’s socially charged, stylistically energised polemic summarises the scene better than the record. Garcia agrees with Boyd. “It’s lots of little pockets of the same thing, where we all have something to say about what we’re doing and the world we’re living in, and it’s coming out in magazines, nights, discussions, radio and dances. Everything is providing places for people to go to be together, and express whatever they want to. And it’s not contained to London, it can’t be. It’s spreading out.”

“Community is a better word than scene, man,” Armon-Jones says of what they’ve helped build. “People who are not connected by friendship groups, but are making music that carries the same vibes or could be put on at the same events mustn’t feel like they’re excluded. I want to stress the importance that it’s not a ship that has sailed. It’s growing, and young and old people can join.”

Theon Cross (photo: Tim Dickeson)

Intimations in the Observer piece and elsewhere that this is music made by street-level radicals, tearing up the rulebook of jazz’s academic establishment, is, though, overly romantic. Everyone in this room met while studying jazz. So was this all to the good? “How do you mean?” Boyd laughs. “Did we pass? Yeah, we all finished!” He remembers the importance of a critical mass of this future community arriving to study at the same time. “There was stuff we needed from the university – resources, information, practice rooms – and we all played out at a lot of things outside of that. Trinity Laban is down the road from Goldsmiths and Camberwell College of Arts, and there were nights happening between them, along down the strip, whether it was Good Evening or Steez.”

Both Gary Crosby’s Tomorrow’s Warriors, in reclaiming jazz for often young black and female musicians (not least Nérija) from its current base in the South Bank Centre, and Jazz Re:freshed’s Notting Hill nights and educative reach, were vital bridges linking to traditional study. “Tomorrow’s Warriors and college was our boot camp,” says Cross. “It grounded our learning and understanding.” Boyd started at Trinity in 2010, and Garcia finished in 2017: the span when seeds were sown.

Playing off the grid of the traditional jazz circuit in London clubland meanwhile allowed two-way traffic with grime, hip hop and R&B. Just as US hip hop acts such as A Tribe Called Quest looked to past jazz styles for spiritual roots and balm in the 1990s, when the UK’s radical, frenetic jungle dance music was also taken to a higher plane by the jazz-minded 4 Hero, something similar is happening now. The influence of grime and hip hop on the new jazz community’s rhythms is often subtle, if present at all. Radical leaps forward aren’t being made by specific records, so much as in the breaking of barriers between jazz and the urban musical present. “I listened to grime and hip hop before I listened to jazz,” says Boyd. “And now with Spotify and the way people consume music, the world has gotten a lot smaller. The hip hop and grime scenes when I was growing up were shut. Now if you listen to Little Simz’s last record, she’s a hip hop, grime-influenced rapper, and it’s got a lot of jazz musicians on it.” That 2017 Little Simz LP, Stillness In Wonderland, prominently employs Nérija trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, and is full of the sort of mellow spirituality jazz so often gives black musicians outside it, while Ezra Collective were on Simz’ last bill at London’s Roundhouse. “A lot of MCs and rappers on this side and in the States are starting to understand the importance of live bands,” Armon-Jones says of this cross-pollination, “and that having skilled instrumentalists takes their music to the next level. We’re at a stage where musicians and rappers are learning from each other.”

The importance of parallel developments in the US, meanwhile, can’t be ignored. Robert Glasper’s impromptu late-night set at London’s Village Underground venue in 2012 was one early sign of jazz’s return to favour with a young black audience. 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly then crowned Kendrick Lamar as hip hop’s king with its intricate poetic broadside at American racial iniquity, and employed Glasper, Thundercat and Kamasi Washington to do so. There’s agreement in the room that this made it the most important album for jazz in recent times. “That was when the cogs started to turn,” says Armon-Jones. “In America and then straight away in England, people were suddenly booking a sax player for their album, and suddenly tracks are two beats rather than one beat for the whole thing. And people started to hire live bands right around then.”

“I’d been into the LA scene before that,” Boyd says, “like Thundercat and the Bruner brothers. I’m equally aware of what’s been going on in New York for the last 30 years, so the idea of jazz and hip hop wasn’t new to me, because I’ve listened to M-Base. But this was the king of hip hop bringing hip hop and jazz back together. And then Kamasi’s campaign hit at the perfect time. We were on the same festivals, and there’s been a cool little discourse. I wouldn’t say it influenced us, because all of us were doing music that hasn’t changed much since To Pimp a Butterfly. But it definitely had an effect on the whole infrastructure.”

Boyd’s 2016 debut as Binker & Moses with saxophonist Binker Golding, Dem Ones, is a prime artefact of the new London scene. The music convincingly relocates Coltrane and Elvin Jones’ symbiosis to South London, not least in its title’s slang, the musicians’ clothes, and the tendril of smoke rising from the baseball-capped Golding’s mouth on the moodily muted sleeve. Recent Jazzwise covers, from Kamasi’s black dashiki to Shabaka’s flat cap, abstract shirt and enigmatic gold chain, have meanwhile shown jazz’s return to an Afro-futurist source also mined by the epochal box-office hit Black Panther. Style counts. And for the first time in decades, jazz has it.

Joe Armon-Jones (photo: Tim Dickeson)

“Yeah, it matters,” says Boyd. “I think that was the problem. The music never looked as cool or good as it sounded. That’s the big shift that a lot of us were conscious of – and how we attacked that status quo. And it took a while, and it was a real battle. People thought you were mad at times! I loved seeing Charlie Parker in a suit. For people in the 1950s that was the fashion, that was cool. I’m not saying it has to be a hoodie now. But let’s say it is. Isn’t that more current, and honest?” “It’s just about playing and dressing and presenting ourselves in ways that we feel comfortable with,” Cross adds, “so that we can attract an audience that we feel comfortable with.”

Similarly, the 1960s drive to take jazz out of clubs and into concert halls, and the often repeated, aspirational axiom that jazz is “black classical music”, is now being reversed in London. “I can understand then why that made sense,” Boyd says. “But to me, looking back, that’s an inferiority complex. I don’t mean to seem arrogant. But I don’t need that validation. What is a concert hall? There’s better acoustics in [Brixton club] Phonox,” he laughs. “I’d rather play with their system with the music I’m playing.”

This new jazz culture comes with other philosophies. “Honesty, man,” says Boyd. “If you look at the bigger picture of the world, the time we’re in is about breaking down status quos, and making things a lot more open. We never sit around and talk about that. But everyone understands. It’s like, I don’t want to hear Theon play Monk. I love Monk, but I’d rather hear Monk play Monk. I want to hear Theon, and I want Nérija to be purely Nérija. Everything has that intrinsic honesty when they’re presenting their music, whatever it is.”

This mutually supportive environment and its unified front is all very different from bebop’s foundation myth at Minton’s, with its intention of excluding inferior musicians. It’s a mantra of togetherness symbolised by the sleeve of Armon-Jones’ new album, Starting Today, which portrays his peers’ records scattered around his flat. “We also want audiences to go away feeling that they’ve had a good time,” Cross concludes. “I feel that about everyone’s music here. It’s important that they can come almost as a stress-reliever. We’re trying to heal people.”

This article originally appeared in the July issue of Jazzwise.

Edited by snobb - 06 Aug 2019 at 7:19am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2019 at 1:43am

Jazz revival is being spearheaded by British people under 30

The genre's growth is being attributed to artists trying to reproduce the traditional sound of classical jazz.

By Noel Phillips, news correspondent

Young musicians are leading the revival of jazz music as streaming sites like Spotify report a growth in the number of people under 30 listening to the genre.

A key figure in this resurgence is Steam Down, a south London collective who are part of a new generation of artists breathing new life into jazz.

Steam Down founder Wayne Francis said: "A lot of musicians like us are breaking down the boundaries and making music out of the established ways of doing jazz.

"Most of the music is being born out of nightclubs and not jazz bars or concert halls and I think that is one of the main reasons why it has grown out of youth culture."


The band's achievements show there is a huge appetite for their music which fuses jazz with other genres.

They believe that many young artists are searching for music that's more relevant to them now.

"I think perhaps why people are calling this a jazz revival is because its been birth in a new energy, where people can enjoy the music in different ways. We identify our music as futuristic," says Nadeem Din-Gabisi.


So, what has made jazz so accessible to young people?

Its growth has been attributed to artists trying to reproduce the traditional sound of classical jazz, but they are not turning back the clock.

Writer and broadcaster Tej Adeleye said: "What we are seeing is a generation of artists who know all the standards and tradition but are putting their own stamp on jazz.

"They are incorporating it with music that they love whether that's hip hop, grime, or afro-beats, its music of their own heritage and it's really resonating with young audiences."

YolanDa Brown, an award-winning saxophonist, predicts that the scene, whose roots lie in artists such as Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald, will continue to mutate.


She said: "You're hearing dance inflections, even grime music inflections. A lot more syncopated rhythms and repetitive rhythms.

"People are up and jumping, dancing. The artists are sweating and jumping around as well. And it's a wonderful atmosphere you can see people are really enjoying it."

Like Steam Down other musicians within the jazz renaissance are not classically trained. They are doing it their own way, mixing in other sounds from the African and Caribbean diasporas.

Journalist and DJ Kate Hutchinson believes some musicians are contributing to what is now becoming a cultural movement. She said artists were resonating because they were relatable.

She added: "Lots of DJ's are bringing jazz music into the clubs and young people are hearing it.

"People are also playing jazz tracks as part of their sets. For many jazz isn't this scary thing that your dad might listen to anymore. It actually has a lot of gravitas and is sonically interesting."

With the amount of jazz-inspired talent that is now emerging, the future looks bright for a sound that has been injected with an array of new energies.

from https://news.sky.com

Edited by snobb - 21 Aug 2019 at 1:44am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sep 2019 at 5:32am

The thrilling evolution of British jazz has reached a whole new audience

"They are influenced by hip-hop, house music, grime and you can hear these elements in their music"

Everyone’s talking about British jazz at the moment. It’s exciting, fresh and genre-bending! The ‘jazz police’ and the purists might not get it, but it sure is telling its own unique story, and the audience are loving it.

British jazz has always had its ambassadors who have flown the flag around the world; Courtney Pine, Jamie Cullum, Soweto Kinch, Jacqui Dankworth and many more. Now there is a new generation of musicians with their own voice, so what’s different this time?

Most of the acts have grown up through fantastic music platforms such as Tomorrow’s Warriors, run by Gary Crosby and Janine Irons, which was the stable for the growth of the recent crop of jazz musicians making headlines. They forged relationships, learnt about music and most importantly about teamwork and unity – an important ingredient for any music movement, Motown being a good example of this.

Another organisation, Jazz Re:freshed, is run by Yvette Griffith and Justin McKenzie. It started as a weekly performance residency and has grown and evolved into so much more, and now features its own record label and promoter. It gives the musicians an important platform to gain performance experience, collaborate and learn to celebrate each other. If you put a mic in front of 95 per cent of the new generation of British jazz musicians, they will speak of at least one of these organisations being a catalyst to their careers. 

It can’t be just about the organisations and their work though, the musicians must have something about them too. And that they do. They are influenced by hip-hop, house music, grime and you can hear these elements in their music. Shabaka Hutchings and his different bands such as Sons of Kemet are definitely pushing the envelope. They’re made up of two drummers with kicking rhythms that entrance you with the beats and syncopations, Theon Cross keeps the bass thumping on the tuba and Hutchings’ saxophone jumps around every imaginable time signature and musical iteration. They are amazing to experience live and definitely unique. They are touring around the world, winning awards and you need to see the moshpits at their gigs. Is it jazz? Oh yes it is!

Nérija are an all-female band based in London who have been getting a lot of love over the past couple of years. Many projects have come out of individual artists from what is now a supergroup. Saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi formed Seed Ensemble – their debut album Driftglass features the track Afronaut, which won the Ivors Academy Award 2018 for Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble, and the album is now nominated for the Mercury Prize. Nubya Garcia [pictured above], also on saxophone, has had similar success. Her tour diary is bulging at the seams with dates around the world, she recently successfully went round the States and Canada and won the Sky Arts Breakthrough Act of the Year Award. I am sure there will be many more success stories from members of Nérija. 

The perception of jazz being the preserve of small basement clubs has also changed. You have groups like Ezra Collective and Steam Down who are selling out 2,000-capacity venues, with their audiences buying up the available vinyl and T-shirts. Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year Cherise Adams-Burnett is cooking up something exciting for her debut album, and drummer Moses Boyd has established himself not just as a musician but a broadcaster too, presenting on BBC Radio 1.

from www.bigissue.com

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 May 2020 at 8:24am

Add some township jive! How London's jazz scene set itself apart

The city’s young jazz community has flourished by drawing on everything from hip-hop to calypso and highlife, creating a unique cosmopolitan sound

Although its live scene is currently on pause, jazz has been thriving throughout London, with names such as Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia and Binker and Moses all attracting attention and media coverage around the world. But what is not often remarked on is how utterly un-American these British musicians sound: listen to their music and you’ll hardly hear any swing or bossa nova rhythms, the usual pulse of American jazz. You won’t even hear that much funk, the rhythm that has been the vehicle for most “fusion” over the past 50 years. Instead, a generation of Londoners – who I spoke to before the coronavirus crisis – are redefining jazz in a different accent.

“What sets us apart from American jazz at the moment is that British jazz musicians are having a musical conversation with Africa and the Caribbean,” says tenor saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, whose myriad projects (the Comet Is Coming, Sons of Kemet, Shabaka and the Ancestors) have made him a figurehead of the London scene. “Dub, dancehall, calypso, soca, Afrobeat, highlife, township jive, nyabinghi – all put through the filter of rave and house and hip-hop. I don’t hear that so much when I listen to American jazz.”

Rhythmically, this cocktail of sounds is not entirely without precedent. Two-tone bands in the early 1980s were experimenting with a similar blend, in particular the Beat’s drummer Everett Morton, who was playing reggae, calypso and Afrobeat in the context of a post-punk band. By the late 80s, Django Bates’s big band Loose Tubes were creating a whimsical British jazz that borrowed heavily from South Africa and Brazil, while Courtney Pine and the Jazz Warriors were injecting reggae and calypso music into hard bop – a fusion that would be explored more explicitly with Gary Crosby’s Jazz Jamaica big band.

“Gary Crosby has been an incredible influence on a new generation of British jazz musicians,” says Patrick Boyle, drummer with the Mercury-nominated SEED Ensemble and several other outfits. “He set up Tomorrow’s Warriors, which has been a breeding ground for dozens of musicians over the last 20 or 30 years. But there are other influences that have fed into the London jazz scene – one of the things that you didn’t really get in the States is the influence of the South African expatriate community in the 70s.”

He adds that for drummers, “you’re defined by how many styles you can replicate with authenticity. Nowadays, if you want to survive as a jazz drummer in London, you have to check out reggae, soca, calypso and Afrobeat.”


Afrobeat has started to play a key role in this blend of rhythms. Many of the current British jazz wave studied at Trinity Laban in south-east London, a music college that was attended by Fela Kuti between 1958 and 1961. Cassie Kinoshi, the alto saxophonist and leader of the SEED Ensemble, was a Trinity student who was disappointed that Fela’s music was not even mentioned on the school’s curriculum.

“Cassie always made a point of performing Fela’s music at college for big performances,” says Boyle. “But Fela’s music is something that loads of young British musicians have got into independently. I remember finding his albums in the record library when I was in high school. A few years later I remember going to a Red Bull drumming masterclass with Fela’s drummer Tony Allen, and loads of other London drummers were there – including Moses Boyd, Femi Koleoso and Eddie Hick. For all of us, Tony Allen is as important as, say, Max Roach or Tony Williams. Songs such as Zombie and Colonial Mentality are jazz standards to us.”

The multicultural nature of London life has had a very obvious effect on the music made by this generation of musicians. “We’ve all grown up in London, and these rhythms have just seeped into us,” says tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia. “It’s happened from listening to our parents’ records, or from going to Carnival, or to dub nights, but it can also be the sounds you hear when you’re walking past a car, or in a local shop, or listening to what kids on the bus are playing on their phones.”

It’s tempting to see the family backgrounds of many of these musicians as crucial to the development of this music. Garcia’s parents come from Guyana and Trinidad; Cassie Kinoshi has Nigerian, Sierra Leonean and Caribbean ancestry; drummer Femi Koleoso comes from a Nigerian family; tuba player Theon Cross’s parents come from Jamaica and St Lucia; Shabaka Hutchings spent much of his childhood in Barbados; Binker Golding’s mother comes from Grenada. But it’s not just heritage that is influencing this music.

Patrick Boyle, for instance, comes from an Irish and Czech background, while trumpeter Emma-Jean Thackray – who released new single Brand New last month – grew up in an almost completely white village in rural Yorkshire and got into Afrobeat via Talking Heads. “In my naivety I assumed that David Byrne had invented this music!” she says. “But it was through that album that I started exploring Fela and Ghanaian highlife and other African music. And, since moving to London, you start to hear so much music from all over the world – this is a place where people are allowed to flourish and share their music with everyone.”


Guitarist Shirley Tetteh, who plays with Nubya Garcia in the septet Nérija, is reluctant to draw direct connections between her heritage and the music she makes. “A lot of people will make a connection between my guitar style and Ghanaian highlife, assuming this comes from my Ghanaian family,” she says. “And there is possibly is some subliminal influence. But I’m very careful when talking about this. People stop seeing you as a musician and see you just as a Ghanaian. And I don’t want to insult people who spend a lot of time mastering Ghanaian music. For me, it’s about getting into very specific genres with respect, be it the funeral music of northern Ghana, or Jamaican nyabinghi music, or Malian kora music. I know that there are jazz drummers on the scene who are really into drill music, for instance. These are all serious genres that have a complex history.”

This palimpsest of Caribbean and African rhythms can have a curious effect on jazz audiences. Older jazz crowds – who miss the reassuring pulse of swing, bossa or funk beats – will often be baffled when they hear musicians soloing over these lopsided polyrhythms. But for a generation who have grown up with Latin-derived pop genres such as reggaeton, this music is very dancefloor friendly – frustratingly so, if you’re now listening to it in lockdown. You see young audiences responding to that dominant 3/3/2 bounce – an eight-beat phrase that emphasises the first, fourth and seventh beats, the same rhythmic pulse common to big recent hits such as Despacito or Shape of You.

Clearly, such rhythms have also altered the way in which jazz musicians improvise and compose. “When you’re playing over certain Afrobeat rhythms, for instance, you tend to play in a more staccato style,” says Shabaka Hutchings. In Sons of Kemet, he says, he tends not to play “the kind of flowing, narrative lines” used in the classic US mid-century bebop style. “I’ll be playing free, or drawing from the chant-like qualities of nyabinghi music. I tend to improvise in different ways in all of the different line-ups I lead. With Shabaka and the Ancestors, I’m working in the vocabulary of South African music, which is quite vocal-derived. But, in the Comet Is Coming, I’m playing over electronic rhythms, which force me to play at a high intensity. It also forces you to embed yourself within the rhythms but also fight against them, moving between sustained lines and very rhythmic playing.”

Binker Golding, a tenor saxophonist who plays with drummer Moses Boyd in the duo Binker and Moses, has also taught many of these musicians as a tutor with Tomorrow’s Warriors. “Even if you’re a surrealist at heart, as I am, there are rules,” he says. “You might be playing something interesting, but if it’s not in the correct context, it’s garbage! For instance, if you’re playing over a dancehall beat, the horn parts are often dependent on the lyrical nature of dancehall. You’re playing like a dancehall vocalist, a style that’s marked by repetition and interlocking rhythms – it’s almost as if the sax is part of the drum kit. And that’s not part of American jazz at all. But it’s part of the London scene, via the Caribbean.”

Thackray also draws distinctions between US and UK jazz. “American jazz still thinks that blending hip-hop with jazz is something quite radical. Here, in London, that’s taken as read. I’ve always been influenced by the way in which, say, MF Doom constructs his phrases, using his rhythmic intonation to inform my own solos. A lot of British jazz musicians do this – it’s part of our musical DNA, just as reggae and Afrobeat is. Americans struggle with that.” She remembers how she played with an American drummer in New York after her UK drummer couldn’t make the trip. “He was very good, and it sounded fine in the end, but it was very different – he couldn’t really get that Caribbean two-step thing that I wanted.”

That’s not to say that this is music that has no American ancestry. “The irony is that dozens of these players came through the Trinity Laban jazz course, which was very bebop orientated,” says Thackray. “That grounding remains strong.”

“If you listen to any of us practise, you’ll hear a hell of a lot of bebop,” says Garcia. “That’s what you might hear when I’m jamming with other members of Nérija. I can certainly play bebop over swing rhythms if I choose – it’s just that I make a conscious decision not to do so on stage.”

Golding concurs, insisting that his duets with Boyd are directly inspired by classic duets between John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell, and Pharoah Sanders and Max Roach – even if the swing elements have been removed. Boyle acknowledges dozens of key American influences – not least a 1958 Ahmad Jamal track called Poinciana, where drummer Vernel Fournier seems to be subtly melding New Orleans and Caribbean influences. “It shows you that you can see glimmers of what we’re now doing throughout jazz history,” says Boyle.

American jazz traditions have also remained at the heart of the Tomorrow’s Warriors weekend schools that so many of these musicians attended. “Tomorrow’s Warriors had an approach to jazz that I really loved,” says Tetteh. “They didn’t divorce it from its American history, from notions of slavery and segregation. People such as Gary Crosby made it clear that jazz is very much an aural tradition, one that’s not just taught academically, but something that is experienced and absorbed. The community aspect is hugely important.”

Curiously, the one explicitly American area of music being explored by many British jazz musicians at the moment is the century-old traditional music of New Orleans – not least its marching-band tuba. Ben Kelly, Oren Marshall, Theon Cross: all have managed to make this seemingly antiquated instrument work in a modern context. “Theon’s music makes perfect sense when you listen to a lot of electronic music,” says Boyle, who is currently touring in Cross’s band. “You listen to grime, drill, trap, bounce – a lot of the basslines and sub-bass frequencies make perfect sense when played on a tuba. It becomes this thread linking ancient and modern.”

“Theon knows his traditional New Orleans jazz history back to front,” says Golding, who taught Cross in Tomorrow’s Warriors. “He can play you every tuba solo on every old Louis Armstrong 78 [rpm record]; he knows his New Orleans dirges. And it’s the same with musicians such as Moses and Nubya and Shabaka. They’re heading into the future, but they all know their history and they know how to use jazz as a key to unlock and interpret dozens of other forms of music. I’m now teaching a generation of musicians who want to be the new Shabaka or Nubya, and I have to explain that if you want to play like them, you’ve got to understand your history!”

What’s exciting is that with their cosmopolitan vision of jazz, this London generation are not just understanding history – they’re making it.

from www.theguardian.com

Edited by snobb - 27 May 2020 at 8:25am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2020 at 10:02am

Meet Nubya Garcia: The Rising Star Taking The London Jazz Scene By Storm Talks Debut Album 'Source'

The emerging artist tells GRAMMY.com about how her first solo album explores identity and community, how the sounds from her multicultural roots left a "life-changing" impact on her and why she thinks livestreams will never replace live music

In clubs around Britain, a loud, colorful revival is happening. Shaped by artists like Soweto Kinch, Shabaka Hutchings and impresario Gilles Peterson, the blossoming U.K. jazz scene, propelled by a welcoming attitude to genre and a celebration of diversity, is bringing a healthy challenge to jazz's long-running U.S. focus. 

In the middle of London's vibrant scene sits Nubya Garcia, a saxophonist and composer who has a hand in many of the next wave of U.K. jazz outfits. You can find her in Nerija, the female-led septet now signed to the Domino label. She changes tack in Maisha, an outfit contributing to the history of spiritual jazz. It's telling of her pivotal place in the scene that Garcia's lucid sax lines appeared on over half of the tracks on the era-defining We Out Here, the 2018 compilation album spotlighting London's rising jazz scene.

Garcia now follows two successful EPs, Nubya's 5ive (2017) and When We Are (2018), with her first album, Source, released Friday (Aug. 21) on Concord Jazz. But even on this debut solo release, the temptation to hog the limelight is never satisfied. Despite being imbued with questions of personal identity and roots, Source truly feels like a group effort. Appearances from Nerija bandmates Cassie Kinoshi and Sheila Maurice-Grey as well as versatile pianist Joe Armon-Jones only add to this feeling. This community-driven scene behind Source creates a uniquely cosmopolitan sound as Caribbean flavors meet EDM-infused club culture, all built on a solid understanding of Black jazz history.  

Garcia is a star in this world, a role model for youngsters across the country. But the outlook on Source is global, as is its creator's reach. 

GRAMMY.com chatted with Nubya Garcia about how her debut album, Source, explores identity and community, how the sounds from her multicultural roots left a "life-changing" impact on her and why she thinks livestreams will never replace live music.

The Guardian recently described your music as "post-American" jazz. What sort of sounds and influences do you find in your music that you might not find in more straight-ahead, bebop-oriented music?

Labels are really interesting; they can often leave out quite a lot in the picture they create. I'd say you can find a lot of reggae and dub. You wouldn't necessarily hear it in my music, but I [also] love garage, footwork, tiny bits of early dubstep and music from the Latinx community. Essentially, I like music from all over the world—global music. I don't like the term world music, and I'm glad that's slowly leaving 'cause it's ridiculous—we all live in the same world! 

How much of this stems from growing up around these sounds in Camden, North London?

Kind of in a big way, but also, I wasn't exactly listening to bashment at home when I was a kid. We had a lot of reggae and dub in the house, but as much as that, we had classical music and mum's '70s and '80s pop records. A really big influence for me growing up was visiting Trinidad Carnival when I was 10; that was my first dive into a culture that I was born into [Editor's Note: Garcia's father is Trinidadian]. Witnessing the multitude of sounds within soca and calypso was life-changing. Since then, I gravitate towards it—I seek it.

I guess our music is a real involvement of jazz within a different dancing complex. Jazz has always been dance music, and it's taken little windy routes away and back from this. Perhaps this is another one of those moments. Bringing jazz to different venues has charged the music with a different energy, too, although it hasn't lost any of the influence of "the tradition." I can still play a ballad in a club if I wanted to. And by club, I don't mean a jazz club.

Exactly. I think one of the most interesting things about the U.K. jazz scene at the moment is its emphasis on space and place, as well as sound, which often means jazz-influenced music turns up in unexpected places.

We're blessed with curiosity and a supportive community, which includes venues, too. There are lots of places to play, to see what everyone's up to and collaborate. 

Collaboration isn't unique to us, but there is certainly freedom of creation. [In non-COVID times,] we were in jazz clubs alongside pubs, warehouses alongside "club" clubs, places that only had indie bands, rock bands, grunge, punk … These weren't really places for jazz-inspired music, and that's what's really exciting to me. We're just creating, playing what we like and pushing it together.

On Source, the thing that flows through the album is a focus on identity, but I like that each track shows a different chapter of this story. I imagine it's been a personally rewarding experience putting it together culturally as well as musically.

Rewarding, but challenging. There was a massive pandemic in the middle of it ... It feels like a whole story, but as complete as it sounds, it still feels searching enough to me. There are themes throughout about identity—my identity and our identities as humans—how we connect to it and what grounds it. It's a really honest representation of me at the moment.

Albums like Source and the upcoming Blue Note Re:imagined, the latter of which features an all-U.K. lineup reworking iconic Blue Note tracks, show that the world is listening to your community at the moment. Where's the scene at now and where might it be headed?

It was a really exciting place to be [pre-COVID]. If you saw my calendar … we were finally like … well to be honest, I never really imagined any of this happening. My goal as an 18-year-old was to get a gig! Being able to play the music I grew up listening to all over the world was something I never really imagined could happen.

We'd been touring and building slowly, but really well. Everything felt very rooted in enjoyment rather than sales 'cause it's not pop music …

But where's the movement as a whole going now?

Right now? I think things are opening up. We've done a few sessions, and I've had a couple of livestream offers, but I'm not a fan of the livestream thing, I'll just be straight with you. 


Because we can't survive on livestreams. I think it's going to become even more difficult to be a musician, which is going to leave a huge gap in generations to come. When we look in five, 10 years, we'll ask, "Why are there no young bands coming through?" Because there's no money in it, there's nowhere for them to play, they don't have any options to get those £100, £50, £20 gigs. Lord, I hope they're not still doing that sh*t anymore!

They still are …

That's what was going on when I was 20! That's how we cut our teeth and learned when to say no, when to say yes and when to push for more. But I think livestreams aren't the same thing. They are something, don't get me wrong, but I'm very worried that it'll become the norm if there are no venues to play out in. I think the big venues will be fine, but we really need to protect the smaller venues that have had such a huge part to play in our development. You need to play out to improve. You can't just play together in a room for a year and then say, "I want to play at Glastonbury."

I'm trying to remain hopeful because I need to, but I don't think livestreaming is the way forward. It's great for reaching out around the world, but it's not sustainable, and it changes how the audience communicates with the other members of the audience, too. Music is a huge part of sharing that experience—it only happens once.

That's the other thing: Source feels live. How have you reconciled this with the current situation where there's virtually no live music?

I've made my peace with it—there's no point crying about it! It's all that we have, and it's the closest we can get to the real thing right now. Hopefully, we can play it in the future, and when we do get to tour it, it'll be mad. I've never done a gig so long after a record has been released, so in a way, it'll be really beautiful because then people will know the album.

What do you hope new listeners will find in your music?

Bits of themselves, bits of other people, stories they've not heard before and stories they're reminded of through the tunes. I just want listeners to listen, feel it and have an open mind, feel some joy, express themselves, dance, move and share. Most of all, I just want people to be present!

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

from www.grammy.com

Edited by snobb - 24 Aug 2020 at 10:02am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cannonball With Hat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Aug 2020 at 2:24pm
I do like this scene, although there is some adherence to popular forms that doesn't do it for me. But, it is very fertile and when it hits it can be quite on fire (in a good way of course). 
Hit it on Five.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2020 at 9:44am

Nubya Garcia Injects Fresh Energy Into The UK Jazz Scene


Nubya Garcia is among the 25 artists DownBeat thinks will help shape jazz in the decades to come.

(Photo: Adama Jalloh)

​Affectionately nicknamed “Empress” or “Queen” by British journalists and fans, saxophonist Nubya Garcia took quite a journey to arrive at the release of her debut full-length album, Source (Concord).

After picking up the saxophone at age 10, the London native enrolled in a jazz program at the Royal Academy of Music and later earned her degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Her participation in the educational program Tomorrow’s Warriors was a key influence on her creative development.

Since emerging with the septet Nérija in 2016, Garcia has injected fresh energy into the UK jazz scene. In addition to her EPs Nubya’s 5ive (Jazz re:freshed) and When We Are (Nyasha), she contributed to the landmark UK jazz compilation We Out Here (Brownswood).

Garcia, who was born to Trinidadian and Guyanese parents, addresses big topics on Source. “It’s a collection of thoughts and feelings about identity, family history, connections, collectivism and grief,” she explained. “I had a lot of thoughts and feelings whilst writing the album ... life and identity questions, in terms of me wanting to know more than I already did about where my family’s from.”

Sonically, Source offers a compelling mixture of spiritual jazz, dub, reggae, Latin rhythms and Afro-diasporic sounds.

“I learned so much from [doing my last EP],” she said. “I weighed up my options between remaining independent or whether and I wanted to work with a label.”

Amid her busy schedule of touring, writing and DJing, Garcia came to a natural decision: “I realized that, whilst making an album, you don’t have to do everything. If you want to push yourself to the maximum, then you need a team to do all the other things, because they’re at the top of their field. Really, what I’ve chosen, is to put all of my time back into being a musician.” DB

This story originally was published in the November 2020 issue of DownBeat. 

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