Other than maybe Los Angeles, there is no other city on the planet with a more vibrant, spiritual, inspiring and exciting jazz scene than London. After moving to London in July 2016, without a specific idea of what jazz in London sounded like, I got hold of Yussef Kamaal’s Black Focus album released on Brownswood Recordings, and that record changed everything for me. Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams’ chemistry on the album resulted in an explosive sound, with rich and textured synths, keys and drum patterns that completely blew me away on first listen, and still do. While discovering this record, I was keen to find more London jazz artists who followed that same energy, and ended up finding some of my favourite music of the last couple of years.
We Out Here represents and captures the infectious, captivating and incredibly groovy energy from some of the best jazz musicians in London. Released on Brownswood Recordings, it features music from Maisha, Ezra Collective, Moses Boyd, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings, Triforce, Joe Armon-Jones and Kokoroko. The compilation showcases effortlessly the talents of these young musicians, as they bring a diverse, experimental and expansive sound to the table. Whether its Maisha’s spiritual and uplifting ‘Inside The Acorn’ with its delicate piano and percussion leads which are interwoven beautifully to create a euphoric sound, Ezra Collective’s afrobeat and drum heavy grooves on ‘Pure Shade,’ Moses Boyd’s electronic and synth-heavy rhythms on ‘The Balance,’ Theon Cross’ distinctive low rumble of his tuba, which are accompanied by experimental saxophone melodies and subtle drums which keep the energy high throughout on ‘Brockley,’ Nubya Garcia’s slow-building energy with mesmerising keys and her tenor sax on ‘Once,’ Shabaka Hutchings’ eerie and off-kilter tempos on ‘Black Skin, Black Masks,’ Triforce’s richly textured guitar leads and subtle g-funk influences on ‘Walls,’ Joe Armon-Jones’ mesmerising piano chops (which has made him a favourite of mine for live performances) on ‘Go See,’ or Kokoroko’s moody but incredibly dense and gorgeous closer ‘Abusey Junction,’ featuring Oscar Jerome on guitar, the contrasts in sound throughout this album means that there is something for everyone.
What makes the London jazz scene so vibrant and progressive in sound and spirit is the sense of inclusivity within the culture. As soon as you start immersing yourself in this world of music, you become a part of a genuine family. There has been so much growth within the scene, through extraordinary collaborations with artists, new festivals celebrating the music and an increase in support all around the world. We Out Here is only a small sample of the excellent music coming out of London, and this is really only the start.
You can purchase We Out Here digitally or on vinyl through Bandcamp, so make sure you do that!