China Moses’ album Nightintales was one of last year’s best vocal jazz albums. The singer who lives in Paris headlines the Bray Jazz Festival, county Wicklow, in Ireland on 4 May. China has learnt a good deal from her mother Dee Dee Bridgewater in shaping her voice and storytelling especially how to project and pounce meaningfully on every little nuance; and China’s idol Dinah Washington’s influence is also surely fed into her overall approach but now so embedded you would scarcely notice as her own timbre and styling is so different. Expect an entertaining mix landing on the blues, torch songs, great original jazz infused material and even a touch of chanson.
Breaking English (Anti Records) released earlier this month by New York composer and guitarist Rafiq Bhatia a “first-generation American son of Muslim immigrant parents who trace their ancestry to India by way of East Africa”, according to his official biog. Trips to Africa and Istanbul inspired the opening of the album while “his empathy for the Black Lives Matter movement” feeds into ‘Hoods Up’. Verdict: well, the album is very original. I'm thinking in the guitar sound of the stark looseness of Marc Ribot, the float of Terje Rypdal rolled into one cloaked by an electronic wash that is like another instrument. The drum part is bare, sometimes brutal, often asymmetrical although contained, the ensemble sound jagged, slightly industrial, with a blues connotation slipping way behind the guitar, and unsamey. Should have wide appeal: you might have to go to a non-jazz venue or outdoor festival to hear Bhatia and the band for a while anyway if they tour in Europe but they could just as easily play in an open minded jazz club that has both a young and oldie down-with-it audience who actually know what they want, like super fine electro-acoustic ideas and good programming that they may otherwise hear radically altered via free improv and they will want to seek out the beefy Breaking English sound a lot on this evidence, the shape of much to come. SG