The London jazz scene, which is in 2018 more active and characterful than it has been since the jazz-dance movement of the 1980s, offers up another jewel with this debut physical-release by spiritual-jazz septet Maisha
. The band, led by drummer Jake Long
, surfaced in 2016 with the download-only live album Welcome To A New Welcome
(Jazz Re:freshed) before gaining a bigger profile as the group chosen to open the epoch-defining various-artists compilation, We Out Here
(Brownswood, 2018). That album was recorded under the light-touch supervision of reed player Shabaka Hutchings
, whose own disc Your Queen Is A Reptile
(Impulse!, 2018), made with his Sons Of Kemet band, is itself a diamond of Koh-i-Noor proportions in the London jazz crown. There Is A Place
, its provenance in part rooted in the late 1960s and early 1970s work of Pharoah Sanders
and Alice Coltrane
, is lush, strings drenched and transportingly beautiful. It is the flip side of ferocious semi-free London duo Binker and Moses
' albums on the Gearbox label. The Maisha and Binker and Moses albums, together with Yorkshire saxophonist Nat Birchall
's Cosmic Language
(Jazzman, 2018), which is foursquare in the mid-period John Coltrane
tradition, plus Emanative
(Jazzman, 2018) and Sarathy Korwar
's My East Is Your West
(Gearbox, 2018), two looser transcultural-outings, between them cover the full-spectrum of British spiritual-jazz.
Maisha's core line-up features some of London's most compelling young musicians, including saxophonist and flautist Nubya Garcia
, guitarist Shirley Tetteh
and keyboardist Amané Suganami
. They are augmented on There Is A Place
by a string quartet. Long's arrangements and engineer David Holmes' mixdown winningly combine to suggest a larger string ensemble. Another guest is trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lindstrom, whose work alongside Garcia also sounds bigger than the sum of its parts.
The line-up is completed by harpist Maria Zofia Osuchowska. She only takes the spotlight briefly but her presence makes a strong impression. Harps are making a jazz comeback in London. Binker and Moses featured guest harpist Tori Handsley
on Journey To The Mountain Of Forever
(Gearbox, 2017) and Alive In The East?
(Gearbox, 2018), and Ukraine-born harpist Alina Bzhezhinska
, who opened the Barbican Centre's November 2017 Pharoah Sanders-headlined event, A Concert For Alice And John
, has released her debut album, Inspiration
Jazz music has some giant drummer-led albums in its back catalogue, but not many in the spiritual-jazz niche. Roy Brooks
' masterpiece The Free Slave
(Muse, 1972) is one, percussionist James Mtume
's Umoja Ensemble's Alkebu-Lan: Land Of The Blacks
(Strata-East, 1972) is another. And, not forgetting drummer Moses Boyd
's co-leadership of Binker and Moses, Maisha's There Is A Place
makes one more.
Osiris; Azure; Eaglehurst / The Palace; Kaa; There Is A Place.
Jake Long: drums; Nubya Garcia: tenor saxophone, flute; Shirley Tetteh: guitar; Amané Suganami: piano, Wurlitzer; Twm Dylan: double bass; Tim Doyle: percussion; Yahael Camara-Onono: percussion. Guests: Axel Kaner-Lindstrom: trumpet; Johanna Burnheart: violin; Barbara Bartz: violin; Tom Oldfield: cello; Madi Aafke Luimstra: viola; Maria Zofia Osuchowska: harp.