Celebrated and supremely talented, London-based saxophonist Nubya Garcia has finally blessed us with her utterly mesmeric debut album SOURCE. Over the last few years she has established herself as one of the leading musicians in UK’s thriving jazz scene, with sublime solo releases as well as incredible collaborations as a member of bands like Maisha and Nérija. As a saxophonist, her presence is dominant and emotive, as she showcases her range and incredible musicianship. I’m enamored by the textures and details of her compositions, and her debut album is a breathtaking sonic adventure into the mind of one of the most incredibly gifted saxophonists in the world.
The album kicks off with the lead single “Pace”, a mesmeric track which scintillating horn melodies and emphatic drumming that carries the energy and the dynamic energy of the track. It just builds and builds throughout, with stunning keys, incredible basslines and percussion that just sounds emphatic. The groove of “The Message Continues” is absolutely stunning, as the saxophone leads and subtle keys make it a colourful and wildly engaging track. If flows effortlessly into the dub-influenced 12-minute thriller “Source” featuring Ms MAURICE, Cassie Kinoshi and Richie Seivwright. The chemistry between each musician on this album is just flawless. Everything just clicks throughout each and every track, as the animated compositions come to live through incredible tempo changes, more subdued and emotive moments as well as groovy and infectiously funky rhythms that just captivate me throughout the entire project. “Stand With Each Other” featuring Ms MAURICE, Cassie Kinoshi and Richie Seivwright again, is an example of a more subdued, melodic and subtle moment on the album, perfectly encapsulating Nubya’s raw and emotive power on the sax. The emotive and angelic vocals throughout complement the smooth rhythms of this track, and provide a slight break from the intensity of the album as a whole. The keys on “Together Is A Beautiful Place” are incredibly lush and mesmerising (massive shoutout to Joe Armon-Jones, who is on keyboard duties throughout I believe), and the thumping and intense groove of “Inner Game” is another clear highlight to me, with its frantic drumming and emphatic saxophone leads. The energy of this one is just infectious, and the rhythms throughout are just so good. “La cumbia me está llamando” featuring La Perla is another terrific track, inspired by Latin grooves, with incredible percussion and raw drumming that perfectly captures the raw, tribal energy of that track. La Perla’s vocals throughout are truly captivating as well. “Before Us: In Demerara & Caura” featuring Ms MAURICE is another vibrant, brilliant track. The drumming, complemented with the incredible piano and saxophone melodies make this a vibrant track that is relentless in its energy. The subdued and reflective closer “Boundless Beings” featuring Akenya is stunning, with gorgeous vocals and an emotive, almost sexy saxophone melody throughout that is just so beautiful.
Nubya’s musicianship and ability to create lavish, emotive, textured and beautiful compositions is what makes her such a vital part of the world of modern jazz music. SOURCE is a sublime album, a cohesive body of work that celebrates the rich, textured and diverse world of jazz. Nubya Garcia is an essential member of this world, and this project cements her position, at least to me, as one of the greats of this generation. A phenomenal album!