Before the band has come on, I survey the crowd. As with most jazz gigs the crowd resembles a loaf of sourdough, a fluffy and fresh centre with a hard crust on all edges. The anticipation builds as we wait for Nubya Garcia to grace the stage. The band enter, I’m struck by the sweet melismas of Nubya Garcia herself with her tenor saxophone. I’m encapsulated by her undulating tones. This is not sporadic or erratic jazz; every note appears carefully crafted and placed. Much like sourdough, this is a rich and heavy set. Her solos rarely leap across octaves, instead they delicately prance around a scale, briefly touching each note before building to a climax so smooth it makes me clench my toes. After her first solo the saxophone droops across her chest, she smiles and looks down as the whole room applauds.
This cheering continued throughout the set, every time Garcia picks up or puts down her instrument the room erupts. Her pacing is nothing short of fantastic, beginning by oscillating around a specific musical phrase. She gradually shapes this phrase to suit her vision, until it resembles an entirely different entity from its beginning. It is now that she builds to a climax.
The band has chemistry, and few things are better than a fully integrated jazz band.
This may imply that the rest of the band is redundant, but this is not the case. The entire band is innovative in manners seldom seen in classical jazz. Joe Armon-Jones’ Keys, Daniel Casimir’s double bass and Garcia’s sax all utilised effects during the set. Mid-song the keys change their sound from piano to almost a steel drum, while the double bass seemingly uses a wah-wah pedal in their final song. This is to great effect, adding another element of the unknown to the set. Throughout the show I detect influences from classical jazz to afrobeats to reggae/ska. Each influence is procured and mannered, however, with every step a climax remains in sight. This toying with the typical mannerisms of jazz makes the band sometimes sound like the love child of Coltraneand Fat Freddy’s Drop. This creates a mish-mash so unique one can’t help but follow the band on their musical path, eagerly waiting to see the destination.
The band has chemistry, and few things are better than a fully integrated jazz band. This integration is seen some 40 minutes into the set, as Femi Coleoso begins a drum solo- breaking from his usual succinct style. The bpm gradually increases, Casimir and Jones shake their heads while Garcia bites her lip, and the whole room intensely wiggles in unison. The rest of the band start playing in turn. As Garcia’s saxophone chimes in her typical melismas fade away. She switches to a syllabic style, climaxing in choric cacophonic screeching. Each screech is a jab as the audience rears with every belt. Ultimately the gig was an amazing experience, it felt special, akin to sourdough. It might not be everyone’s taste, one might not want the whole loaf, but for those who appreciate, there are few greater delights.
Before ending, this review would be flawed with no mention of the support. Yadasofiwere far better than a support band has a right to be. Especially a support band found in a Brightonian basement. Although Nadav Schneerson’s drums were flashy, there remain two excuses for needless flashy drumming. Those are; being of a good enough standard to flash correctly, and for the drumming to actually not be needless at all. Luckily, he was an extremely competent drummer and the flashiness created a raw and aggressive sound. Complete with both tenor and alto saxophones, and a trumpet, this makes the band’s sound young and fierce. If Nubya Garciahave good chemistry, then Yadasofihave fantastic chemistry. They cheer each-other on through their respective solos, in a manner symbolic of Brighton’s passionate music scene. I strongly urge any reader of this article to keep an eye out for them and see them if possible.
Words by Daniel Feldman
Photo credit: Flickr, Merlijn Hoek