made a mark on the alternative London jazz scene three years ago as the pianist on alto saxophonist Camilla George
's luminous debut, Isang
(Ubuntu). More recently, she has played piano and keyboards on two other headline albums: George's The People Could Fly
(Ubuntu, 2018), and alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi
's SEED Ensemble's debut, Driftglass
(Jazz re:freshed, 2019).
Tandy's own-name album debut was just a matter of time... and here it is, a 360-degree, access-all-areas blinder.
On Infection In The Sentence
the title is borrowed from Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's canonical work of feminist literary-criticism, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination
Tandy has said she set out to explore connections between the jazz she grew up listening to and the multi-faceted sounds and styles of modern London. This is reflected in the chronological sequencing of the album. Opening track "Bradbury Street" is classic era hard-bop with a Thelonious Monk-ish theme, taken at a pace which evokes Horace Silver at his most energised and with a solo from Sheila Maurice-Grey
which comes on like Lee Morgan at his baddest (and then some). Closing track "Snake In The Grass" is a cross-cultural affair weaving dub, ska and fusion-esque keyboards into the sort of genre-melting new jazz which London is making its own.
Alongside Maurice-Grey, a member of the Nerija
collective and leader of Afrobeat-plus band Kokoroko
, Tandy's group features three other luminaries of the London scene. Tenor saxophonist Binker Golding
is one half of the ferocious semi-free duo Binker and Moses
with drummer Moses Boyd
, and a longtime mainstay of singer Zara McFarlane
's band. Deep-strata bassist and drummer Mutale Chashi
and Femi Koleoso
are in high demand across the city. Both have Afrobeat-flavoured strands in their CVs, Koleoso with Ezra Collective
, Chashi with Kokoroko. "The band are a strong mix of personalities and I wanted that to come across," says Tandy. "So I didn't write an 'Afrobeat' or a 'modern jazz' album... the music had to be able to accommodate everyone's individual musical temperament."
With this deep and striking album, an assured balance of tradition and new directions, Tandy's star, already shining brightly, is on the cusp of going supernova.
Bradbury Street; Nursery Rhyme; Under The Skin; Timelord; Light / Weight; Snake In The Grass.
Sarah Tandy: piano (1-3, 5), keyboards (4-6); Binker Golding: tenor saxophone (1, 3-6); Sheila Maurice-Grey: trumpet (1, 2, 6); Mutale Chashi: bass; Femi Koleoso: drums.