2019 Highlight: Hania Rani, Esja, Gondwana

From May 2019. I do not think that I have played any record more this year so far than Esja. There is something compelling about its bittersweet ostinati and the grand musical world Hania Rani conjures out of so little. A record that does not rely …

Published: 16 Nov 2019. Updated: 6 months.

From May 2019. I do not think that I have played any record more this year so far than Esja.

There is something compelling about its bittersweet ostinati and the grand musical world Hania Rani conjures out of so little.

A record that does not rely on genre at all, it is hardly a jazz record in the usual sense but again will appeal to jazz fans as it will anyone into minimalism or electronica even.

Esja has an introverted feel to it and manages to tap melody out of rhythm and mood, often the three forces combining to mesmerising effect, say on ‘Eden’, and rather than sliding into a dreamy haze has an edge to it that draws you back again and over again.

Pic. Bandcamp

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'If You Hear Me' from Ben Williams album I Am A Man streams ahead of Ronnie Scott's appearance

Signed to José James' label Rainbow Blonde bassist-vocalist Ben Williams (best known for his work with Pat Metheny and as a Monk Prize winner) signals a firm R'n'B and neosoul direction on I Am A Man (the title referencing a Memphis African American …

Published: 16 Nov 2019. Updated: 4 months.

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Signed to José James' label Rainbow Blonde bassist-vocalist Ben Williams (best known for his work with Pat Metheny and as a Monk Prize winner) signals a firm R'n'B and neosoul direction on I Am A Man (the title referencing a Memphis African American sanitation workers’ strike in 1968) to be released in early-February 2020.

Keyboardist Kris Bowers, guitarist David Rosenthal, reedist Marcus Strickland, percussionist Bendji Allonce, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, flautist Anne Drummond, and drummers Jamire Williams and Justin Brown are also on the album. A string quartet and vocalists Kendra Foster, Muhsinah, Wes Felton, and Niles also figure.

Williams and his band Sound Effect play the EFG London Jazz Festival and Ronnie Scott's on Saturday 23 November as part of a European tour.