Discover the best of Britain's vibrant jazz scene at Fopp!
The modern Brit Jazz scene is a vibrant and exciting space where the boundaries of jazz are being pushed to new and exciting heights. In recent years, the genre has been revitalized by a new generation of musicians who are unafraid to experiment with different sounds and styles, while also paying tribute to the rich traditions of the past.
Jazz re:freshed, an influential London-based label, stands at the forefront of the vibrant modern Brit Jazz scene. Founded in 2003 by musicians Justin McKenzie and Adam Moses, the label has become a vital platform for emerging jazz artists. Through their live events, recordings, and community outreach programs, Jazz re:freshed has helped to create a space where young musicians can experiment and develop their craft. One of the most exciting artists to emerge from the Jazz re:freshed stable is saxophonist Nubya Garcia. Born and raised in London, Garcia draws on a wide range of influences, from jazz to reggae to hip hop. Her debut E.P, 5ive, was released in 2017 to critical acclaim, and it showcased her virtuosic playing and her ability to blend different genres into a cohesive whole. Garcia is part of a wave of young musicians who are breathing new life into the jazz scene, and she is quickly establishing herself as one of the genre’s most exciting new voices.
Another important outlet for all this fresh talent has been DJ Giles Peterson’s label Brownswood Recordings. The label has played a significant role in the development of the modern Brit Jazz scene, by supporting and promoting the work of some of the most exciting young jazz musicians in the UK. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Brownswood is the sense of community that it has created. The label’s artists collaborate with each other, and there is a real sense of camaraderie and mutual support among the Brownswood family. This is reflected in the label’s annual compilation series, We Out Here, which showcases the best of the UK’s jazz scene. The series features contributions from Brownswood artists as well as other up-and-coming acts, and it’s a testament to the label’s commitment to nurturing new talent.
One of the key artists associated with Brownswood Recordings and the modern Brit Jazz scene is saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. Hutchings has been a prolific and influential figure in the UK jazz scene for over a decade, and he has played a significant role in the development of the modern jazz sound. Hutchings is known for his politically charged music, which draws on a wide range of influences, from jazz to Afrobeat to punk rock. He has released several albums on Brownswood Recordings, both as Shabaka & the ancestors and as part of the groups Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming.
Many of the musicians involved in the scene are part of collectives or bands that work together to create a unique sound. One such collective is Kokoroko, a London-based group that draws on Afrobeat, highlife, and jazz to create a sound that is at once contemporary and rooted in tradition. The band’s members are all accomplished musicians in their own right, and they bring their individual influences and experiences to the collective, creating a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts.
With its collaborative spirit, commitment to diversity, and focus on experimentation, the scene is attracting a new generation of musicians and fans who are redefining what jazz can be. As the scene continues to evolve and grow, it is sure to produce even more exciting and innovative music in the years to come.
Let’s take a look at a few of our favourites from the scene…
Sons of Kemet
The London-based quartet led by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, deliver a searing mix of jazz, Caribbean rhythms, and Afrobeat on their album “Black to the Future.” With Hutchings’ fiery playing and the group’s propulsive grooves, the album is a powerful statement on Black identity and resistance, both musically and lyrically. Sons of Kemet are at the forefront of a new wave of jazz that is unapologetically political and socially conscious, and “Black to the Future” is a potent example of their innovative and urgent sound.
Nala Sinephro is a force to be reckoned with in the world of avant-garde jazz. Space 1.8 is a mesmerizing journey through the cosmos, with Sinephro’s ethereal vocals and atmospheric instrumentation creating a dreamlike atmosphere that is both haunting and beautiful. Drawing from influences as diverse as Alice Coltrane and Bjork, Sinephro has crafted a singular sound that is at once otherworldly and deeply human.
With their infectious grooves and soaring horns, this band is a force to be reckoned with, blending elements of jazz, funk, and West African rhythms into a heady concoction that is guaranteed to get your heart racing. Kokoroko’s sound is at once modern and timeless, a celebration of the power of music to bring people together and lift us out of our everyday lives. Their self-titled debut EP is a triumph, with each track a journey through a different sonic landscape, the frenetic energy of Abusey Junction (also featured on the we out here compilation) gained over 52 million views on youtube.
Ezra Collective are here to take us on a wild ride through the past, present, and future of the genre. With a sound that draws on everything from bebop to grime, this band is at the forefront of a new wave of jazz that is both fiercely innovative and deeply rooted in tradition. Ezra Collective’s music is a riot of rhythm and melody, with each member of the band contributing their own unique voice to the mix. Their debut album, You Can’t Steal My Joy is a masterpiece, a testament to the power of jazz to transcend time and place and speak directly to the human soul.
This London-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer is a true original, defying categorization and pushing the boundaries of what jazz can be. With a sound that draws on influences as diverse as Sun Ra, Fela Kuti, and Aphex Twin, Thackray creates music that is at once cerebral and visceral, challenging and deeply satisfying. Her debut album, Yellow is a masterpiece, a kaleidoscopic journey through the full spectrum of human emotion, with Thackray’s virtuosic trumpet playing and hypnotic beats leading the way.