As a teaser for her upcoming album, the divine Zara McFarlane has released a 4-track EP revisiting Jamaican dub and rockers wizard Augustus Pablo's canonical 1977 single "East Of The River Nile." McFarlane's disc, on which her wordless vocals stay close to Pablo's original melodica topline, showcases her signature blend of jazz and Caribbean music to transporting and trippy effect (pass the chalice, folks). The track is produced by McFarlane's longtime drummer and collaborator Moses Boyd and arranged by trombonist Nathaniel Cross, brother of Theon Cross, whose album Fyah (Gearbox, 2019) is in the top drawer of those releases to come out of London's new jazz scene so far in 2019. Another luminary of the scene who is present is saxophonist Binker Golding, one half of the ferocious semi-free duo Binker and Moses with Boyd. Golding's recent album with keyboard player Elliot Galvin, Ex Nihilo (Byrd Out, 2019), is another 2019 first among equals. British dub master and lovers-rock auteur Dennis Bovell mixed the EP.
Anticipation surrounding McFarlane's 2019 album, which is the follow-up to Arise (Brownswood, 2017), is already high. For one listener, the wait is now becoming almost unbearable.
East Of The River Nile; East Of The River Nile (Dub Mix); East Of The River Nile Alt. Take; East Of The River Nile Alt. Take (Dub Mix).
Zara McFarlane: vocals; Nathaniel Cross: trombone; Moses Boyd: drums; Jay Darwish: electric bass; Ashley Henry: keys; Junior Alli-Balogun: percussion; Binker Golding: tenor saxophone.
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.