London-born and raised she may be, but saxophonist-composer Nubya Garcia's music is pan-global in outlook, reflecting her Guyanese/Trinidadian heritage on one hand, and an openness to music in general, on the other. It should come as no surprise that her full-length debut is laced with Afro-Caribbean and South American rhythms, for Source
is a personal proclamationa musical passport of sorts. Equally, a streak of urban chicmarked by broken beats and dub atmosphericscolors these ten tracks. Yet for all its musical hybridity, Source
is a jazz record at heart, stemming from the tradition, yet joyously pushing the boundaries.
As on Garcia's previous EPs, Nubya's 5Ive
(Jazz re:freshed, 2017) and When We Are
(Nyasha Records, 2018), the twenty-eight-year old saxophonist is joined by keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones
and Daniel Casimir
on double bass, while relative newcomer Sam Jones
injects polyrhythmic muscle on drums. At the center is Garcia's mellifluous, keening sound, which is announced to striking effect on the opening track "Pace," her economy in no way diluting the emotional heft of her playing. Armon-Jones also lays down an early marker with a dashing piano solo. Likewise, Garcia's ability to fashion weighty lyricism from sparse vocabulary is evident on the rhythmically vibrant "The Message Continues," with the no less impressive Armon-Jones buoyant on electric keys.
The title track, from Garcia's second EP, is significantly reworked here with a swaying dub-step groove which underpins Garcia's searching tenor lines. Guest trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey
adds brief harmonic depth and, in conjunction with Cassie Kinoshi
} and Richie Seivwright
, dreamy backing vocals. The ethereal choral effect is reproduced on "Stand With Each Other," where Garcia plies an unwavering, chant-like course. The ballad-tempo of "Together Is a Beautiful Thing" reveals a more introspective side to Garcia, her gentle rubato being in contrast to Armon-Jones and Casimir's more expressive solo forays.
Garcia is perhaps most persuasive riding the faster tempi of "Inner Game," and "Before Us: Demerara & Caura," feeding hungrily off Jones' slippery rhythms and Armon-Jones' ever-probing keys. On the latter, in particular, Garcia really stretches out, producing some real fire which provokes a spirited response from Maurice-Grey on trumpet. "La Cumbia Me Está Llamando," inspired by various trips Garcia made to Columbia, sees the tenor saxophonist engage in a mantra-like call-and-response with the Colombian vocal-percussion group La Perla. "Boundless Beings," which features vocalist Akenya, is a dreamy escapade, as hypnotic as it is unclassifiable.
Rootsy and cosmopolitan, Source
draws from the deep well of Garcia's historical and cultural mapping. In her stirring rhythms and seductive melodies, laced with surges of improvisational flare, Garcia weds past and present in an elegant idiom of personal stamp. An auspicious debut, rooted yet enticingly progressive.
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.
Sam Jones: drums.