Because of the supporting-cast role generally assigned to his instrument, bassist Daniel Casimir is not a household name in British jazz. But among musicians on the alternative London scene, and aficionados of it, he is highly regarded. Casimir is, for example, the bassist on all of tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia's recorded output to date. Garcia returns the favour by being one of the two featured soloists on Boxed In, Casimir's ambitiously conceived, out of left fieldand stonkingly gooddebut under his own name.
Boxed In is an eleven-track suite with a three-track mini-suite inside it. It is played by an acoustic quintet completed by four of Casimir's fellow London luminariesGarcia, trumpeter James Copus, pianist Al Macsween and drummer Moses Boydand an eleven-piece strings and horns ensemble. Nubiyan Twist singer Ria Moran is heard on three tracks.
This is not orchestral jazz as it is is generally understood, nor is it a with-strings affair along the lines of, say, Clifford Brown With Strings (EmArcy, 1955). The provenance is closer to Stan Getz's Focus (Verve, 1961) in that the string charts are as much an object of fascination as the solos woven into them. But it is cut from a different cloth, one which owes more to film and television soundtrack music than to the contemporary-classical composers who were Getz's arranger Eddie Sauter's inspirations. For instance, Boxed In's suite within a suite, "Safe," resonates with the more agitated parts of Geoffrey Burgon's score for BBC Television's adaptation of John le Carré's novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), although this is probably by coincidence rather than by design.
Boxed In's prevailing mood is intense, particularly on "Safe," which is named after Derek Owusu's 2019 collection of essays reflecting on the Black British male experience. Garcia and Copus each contribute several gutsy solos, and Moran's benignly siren voice lets the sun shine during her tracks. The album runs for just over sixty absorbing minutes. It takes London jazz in an exciting new direction, one to which Casimir will, hopefully, return and develop further.
Safe (Part 1); Boxed In; New Waters; Your Side: Safe (Part 2); Get Even; Safe (Part 3); Into The
Truth; The Truth; Rewind The Time; Outro.
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.