The ideahonouring Blue Note's legacy while mapping out a possible futurepromises much. The actuality is a curate's egg. The sixteen artists each interpreting a classic Blue Note-associated tune are not, as the label's American publicity has it, among the London scene's "most exciting young talents." A few are, but not many. The sixteen are instead an unevenly matched assortment of instrumentalists, knob twiddlers, singers and spoken-word artists.
One American label which has pacted with London musicians to good effect is Impulse!, which has since 2018 released four paradigm-shifting albums by three of Shabaka Hutchings' groups: Sons Of Kemet, Shabaka & The Ancestors and The Comet Is Coming. Relative newcomer Ropeadope is showing promise, too, with one album from Yazz Ahmed already out and a dancefloor-friendly set from violinist Johanna Burnheart due later in October 2020. Blue Note will have to do better than this. Fortunately, on historical and recent form, it almost certainly will.
Rose Rouge; Footprints; Watermelon Man (Under The Sun); Wind Parade; Illusion (Silly Apparition); Galaxy; Search For Peace; A Shade Of Jade; Etcetera; Montara; I’ll Never Stop Loving You; Armageddon; Maiden Voyage; Prints Tie; Caribbean Fire Dance (Lewisham Drop); Speak No Evil (Night Dreamer).
Jorja Smith; Ezra Collective; Poppy Ajudha; Jordan Rakei; Skinny Pelembe; Alfa Mist; Ishmael Ensemble; Nubya Garcia; Steam Down w Afronaut Zu; Blue Lab Beats; Yazmin Lacey;Fieh: Mr Jukes; Shabaka Hutchings; Melt Yourself Down; Emma-Jean Thackray.
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In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.