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Album Review

Nubya Garcia: Source

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Nubya Garcia: Source
Tenor saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia's first full-length album has been a long time coming—but the wait has been worth it. Source is a cracker and more than fulfills the weighty expectations that built up in anticipation of its arrival.

It was back in 2017 that Garcia debuted with the EP Nubya's 5ive (Jazz Re:freshed) and since then she has been a leading light of the new London jazz scene. One of a triumvirate of tenor stars—the other two being Shabaka Hutchings and Binker Golding—Garcia has since 2017 illuminated a host of other ex-London albums (too many to list here), along with projects initiated by Chicago drummer / producer Makaya McCraven, an early US celebrant of the London scene. She has also been an integral member of the (originally all female) collective Nerija. In the three years since Nubya's 5ive, Source is the first time Garcia has taken the time to stretch out and present her own vision as sole leader.

The jazz which Garcia and her peers have developed is characterised by its cultural inclusiveness, which reflects the Caribbean and West African musical heritages of many of its leading players. It is these diverse but ultimately intersectional sources which, one imagines, give rise to the album title. Certainly they are reflected in the title track, a twelve-minute dub-loaded gumbo sculpted by London's multi-cultural make-up.

Commanding the stage throughout the album is Garcia's gloriously big, rich tenor, in which one can still hear traces of her formative influence, Joe Henderson. Her longstanding keyboard player, Joe Armon-Jones, is also given plenty of space to shine. There are some supporting cameo roles. Armon-Jones, double bassist Daniel Casimir and drummer Sam Jones are joined on the title track and "Stand With Each Other" by trombonist Richie Seivwright of Ezra Collective, and by alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, leader of SEED Ensemble, and trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, leader of Kokoroko, both of whom are fellow members of Nérija. Grey also guests on "Before Us In Demerara & Caura." Seivwright, Kinoshi and Grey double up on vocals on these tracks.

A conscious intention to forge a jazz style embracing the entire African diaspora—along with all progressively minded, liberal people—is the central strand running through Source, and it is underlined by track titles such as "Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be," "Stand With Each Other" and the closer, "Boundless Beings," which echoes the title of Makaya McCraven's album Universal Beings (International Anthem, 2018), the first of two McCraven albums featuring Garcia (along with Shabaka Hutchings and Daniel Casimir).

It seems almost too symbiotic to be a coincidence (though doubtless it is) that Source is being released on the same day (21 August 2020) that Gary Crosby and Janine Irons' outreach project Tomorrow's Warriors announces its annual appeal for funds, for Garcia and practically every musician on the new London scene, particularly (but not exclusively) those of colour, is a beneficiary of the free conservatoire-level tuition provided by the Warriors. Garcia is among those endorsing the appeal: "Tomorrow's Warriors was the first place where I felt I had a place as a woman in jazz, and, crucially, as a black woman in jazz."

Track Listing

Pace; The Message Continues; Source; Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be; Stand With Each Other; Inner Game; La Cumbia Me Está Llamando; Before Us In Demerara & Caura; Boundless Beings.

Personnel

Nubya Garcia: saxophone; Joe Armon Jones: keyboards; Daniel Casimir: bass.

Additional Instrumentation

Sam Jones: drums.

Album information

Title: Source | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


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