2019 Jazz FM awards nominations announced
Jazz FM announced the artists shortlisted for the 2019 Jazz FM awards this week. Guitarist Rob Luft, who released his album Riser in 2017 and features in Laura Jurd’s inventive 14-piece ensemble for her Stepping Back, Jumping In project, has been nominated for Instrumentalist of the Year alongside saxophonists Camilla George and Jean Toussaint.
Multi-instrumentalist Emma-Jean Thackray has received a nomination in the Breakthrough Act category, while Nubya Garcia — the saxophonist she joins on a three-act bill at Band on the Wall next month — is shortlisted for UK Jazz Act of the Year, which will be decided by public vote.
Roosevelt Collier, who also plays with the world-fusion outfit Bokanté, gets a nod in the Blues category and Sons of Kemet’s Mercury Prize-nominated album, Your Queen Is A Reptile, is amongst the six LPs listed for Album of the Year.
Explore the full category list and cast your vote, here.
The repeat listen: Theon Cross – Fyah
Tasting Notes: Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile, Too Many Zooz – Subway Gawdz, Don’t Problem – DP EP, Moses Boyd Exodus – Displaced Diaspora, Fela Kuti – Zombie
With his contributions to the two latest Sons of Kemet LPs and compilation album We Out Here (Brownswood’s vital document of the London contemporary music scene), tuba player Theon Cross had demonstrated the power and versatility of his instrument well prior to the release of this, his debut full length album.
Despite that, he still bursts out of the starting blocks with a point to prove. On opening track Activate, his two-note tuba riff lurches out of the speakers, backed by a raw linear drum beat. The insistence of his instrument speaks for itself, but it’s the way Cross places it within this and other arrangements, that reveals how it can both perform the role of a programmed sub bass, synth or electric bass and reference the styling of bass parts in grime, hip-hop, dancehall and funk styles.
Second track The Offerings is where the intrigue deepens. The EQ width narrows and a distant field recording bubbles beneath a calm, rugged instrumental. Cross’ choice to pull the record into this brilliant, energetic territory and to experiment with some DnB-esque drum filtering as the track develops, suggests his vision and versatility as a producer as well as a performer.
Radiation sees us return from experimental sonic territory and slip into a glorious, stank face-inducing, off-kilter hip-hop rhythm. Cross’ funky trills and interplay with Nubya Garcia on saxophone are a joy to behold, giving effortless structure and swagger to the number.
On Candace of Meroe, the track where Afrobeat’s influence is most tangible, Cross’ introductory phrases barely sound like a tuba. They squelch almost like an upright bass played high up the fingerboard and passed through a wah pedal. With CIYA, Theon takes us even further from the raw energetic standard of the album opener, unveiling a smooth laid back groove where his instruments sits further back in the mix, gently guiding the track rather than becoming its focal point.
Seizing the opportunity to showcase his capabilities, Cross has assembled a diverse, assured and deeply consider debut record – written, arranged and produced in such a way that his instrument and its qualities will soon barely figure in the assessment of his work.
London-based six-piece Cykada released the first single from their forthcoming eponymous debut album this week. Entitled Dimension Stepper, the blistering track reaches exospheric heights, uniting electronics and inventive audio processing with hard-driving jazz and folk-dance rhythms, harnessing interesting scales and effects to transport it into a unique sonic space.
Influenced by Floating Points and Bonobo amongst others, Brighton-based outfit Kudu Blue have crafted a rich and moving dance cut in Mountain Song. Laden with synths and sparking programming, its lead vocals convey the song’s enormity and anthemic sound the greatest.
By now, we’ve come to appreciate that everything DJ Spinna touches turns to dancefloor gold. His new flip of Potatohead People’s Morning Sun featuring vocals from the brilliant Nanna.B, catapults the track into cosmic dance territory, with a beautiful off-kilter shuffle and phat synth basslines. A sparkling and Summery flip that’s bound to move your muscles.
The River Severn has been a reference point for much of Ishmael Ensemble’s recent work. In the new video for their pensive collaborative track with Yazz Ahmed, bird’s eye view visuals of it provide rarely-encountered perspectives on the scale, flow and banks of the waterway, accompanying the vibe of the song perfectly. The video was shot by Glide Media Productions and you can check it out below.
Hania Rani’s cyclical, atmospheric composition Glass was released this week accompanied by a beautifully shot music video courtesy of directors Mateusz Miszczyński & Jakub Stoszek. Filmed in Berlin and at Studio S2 of Polish Radio in Warsaw, the pillarboxed visual frames Rani as an expressive and inquisitive artist, as shots of her exploring the city are interspersed throughout her focussed solo performance.
Guitarist and composer Cory Wong released another of his signature DIY studio visuals this week. Collaborating with masterful slide guitarist Ariel Posen, Cory and his band smash the R&B-rooted instrumental out of the park. The pair can be seen playing fetching Frank Brothers Guitars courtesy of the makers the video was recorded for.
Photos: Hania Rani by Nat Kontrakiewicz, Cykada by Daniel Woodflield