Home » Jazz Articles » Soweto Kinch: White Juju


Album Review

Soweto Kinch: White Juju


Sign in to view read count
Soweto Kinch: White Juju
Adding politically charged spoken-word lyrics to instrumental jazz needs to be done with care, because if sloganeering is tedious to listen to once, it becomes unbearable on repeated exposure. The record containing it drops off one's playlist. Counterproductive or what? The British saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch, however, has pulled the trick off many times. From Conversations With The Unseen (Dune, 2003) through to The Black Peril (Soweto Kinch Recordings, 2019), Kinch has made the combination work because of the poetic rather than agitprop nature of his words and also because he does not overload his music with them, letting his saxophone do much of the talking.

With White Juju, Kinch has added a full symphony orchestra to the equation. The album was recorded live at London's Barbican Centre in November 2021, when Kinch's quartet—which is completed by pianist Rick Simpson, bassist Nick Jurd (no relation, by the way, to the trumpeter and composer Laura Jurd), and drummer Gregory Hutchinson—was joined by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lee Reynolds. It is Kinch's most ambitious work to date and it is a resounding success.

The 75-minute, 16-part suite is Kinch's response to events in Britain (and to a lesser extent America) during 2020. White Juju is concerned with the pandemic, police racism and misogyny, threats to the environment, the wealth gap, and governmental use of cultural warfare as an attempted distraction from the real challenges facing society.

Kinch also includes a sprinkling of field recordings, most of them excerpts of broadcast speeches by the likes of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and London police chief Cressida Dick (all three now out of office, but with Patel replaced by even more unhinged virago).

While Kinch's mastery of both small group jazz and rap has long been a given, the calibre of his orchestral arrangements here is a revelation. The holder of a degree in modern history from Oxford University, and as a saxophonist an alumnus of the Tomorrow's Warriors community programme, Kinch is largely self-taught as a composer and arranger. As such, he gives autodidactism a good name, and, more than an add-on, the LSO becomes an integral part of the music. At their most dramatic, the orchestrations owe something to Igor Stravinsky, while at other times there are echoes of the pastoralism of early twentieth century English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. But Kinch's style is overwhelmingly his own. To cap it all, White Juju was excellently recorded.

White Juju is set for digital release on 2 December 2022, with vinyl to follow on 14 April 2023, to coincide with Record Store Day.

Track Listing

Chaos; Dawn; The Old Normal; March Of The Unicorns; Snarling Beast; Beneath The Myth; Curated Chaos; The Cycle Of Violence; Sanctuary; The Natural Order; Sunlit Uplands; Tall Tales Of Yesteryore; Idiots; Eternal; Casting Out; Clarity.


Soweto Kinch: saxophone; Rick Simpson: piano; Nick Jurd: bass, acoustic; Gregory Hutchinson: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Soweto Kinch: saxophone and vocals; London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lee Reynolds.

Album information

Title: White Juju | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Soweto Kinch Recordings

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Ain't No Saint
Jim & the Schrimps
Spider's Web
Garth Alper
Some Of Us Are Brave
Danielle Ponder
A Thousand Pebbles
Ben Rosenblum Nebula Project


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.