Lakecia Benjamin, New Mornings, Whirlwind ****

Drawn from the Terri Lyne Carrington produced Phoenix out on 27 January muted trumpet from Josh Evans is one big talking point when the tune spools into another dimension later on but we are getting ahead of ourselves because the main focus alto …

Published: 2 Dec 2022. Updated: 57 days.

Drawn from the Terri Lyne Carrington produced Phoenix out on 27 January muted trumpet from Josh Evans is one big talking point when the tune spools into another dimension later on but we are getting ahead of ourselves because the main focus alto saxist Lakecia Benjamin is soulful and highly persuasive. The tempo is pushed hard by drummer EJ Strickland. Prominent in the groove plucking hard Gregory Porter bass ace Jahmal Nichols turns in a winning role. The piano comping from Victor Gould with dubbed organ fed in for dramatic effect later is undemonstrative in the mix but highly effective nevertheless. Who'll like this most? Anyone into UK saxist Rachael Cohen for starters and sheer groove above and beyond.

Lakecia Benjamin, photo via Whirlwind

Tags: LATEST

Soweto Kinch and the London Symphony Orchestra, White Juju, LSO Live *****

A major extended work for jazz quartet and symphony orchestra from alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader, MC, Soweto Kinch with the London Symphony Orchestra recorded last year in the Barbican during the London Jazz Festival. It is a scalding …

Published: 2 Dec 2022. Updated: 58 days.

Next post

A major extended work for jazz quartet and symphony orchestra from alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader, MC, Soweto Kinch with the London Symphony Orchestra recorded last year in the Barbican during the London Jazz Festival.

It is a scalding anti-establishment critique certainly of greased piglet Boris Johnson mainly hoisted by his own petard in the use of his own words. His podium to the nation voice harrumphs ever preposterously out at the beginning of this deeply considered broadside couched in a style that long-term Soweto listeners will recognise from The Legend of Mike Smith.

This new work extends the orchestration and scale of the essential method. Turning to John Dryden's 1681 satirical poem 'Absalom and Achitophel' is not at all a massive leap - Zimri (surely a B. Johnson of his time) described as:

A man so various, that he seem'd to be

Not one, but all Mankind's Epitome.

Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;

Was everything by starts, and nothing long:

But in the course of one revolving moon,

Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon

More a tragedy than the contrasting equally inspired Mike Smith skittishness “it fascinates me,'' Soweto says, ''how we’re all acquainted with an unspoken architectural and symbolic language of power. How do these monuments or myths affect how we see ourselves as a nation? Naming the piece 'White Juju' deliberately inverted ideas of the ‘savage’ or primitive. Perhaps the bizarre fetishes and obsessions of a cult religion are more visible in modern Britain than third world countries.”

In terms of scale there is nothing like White Juju in terms of UK jazz releases this year both as a hard hitting satire and a cogent experiment in form that Kinch has developed and deepened over many years in various fragments of his work. It's all the more remarkable given that it was delivered live.

Conducted by Lee Reynolds, the LSO's woodwinds on 'Juju 1: Dawn' conjure serenity out of what could be interpreted as a vision of birdsong and the meshing together of orchestra and jazz group spanning idioms works and compares favourably with Wayne Shorter orchestral work 'Pegasus'.

All this and a ''burning Babylon to the ground'' rap masterclass on 'Curated Chaos' - a voice from the wilderness and sound that needs to be heard given the straits post-Brexit and Covid that the UK finds itself in. 'Sunlit Uplands' merging a Brexitian asylum of voices of stricken malaise, agitation and discord against a lament driven by beautiful loosely stitched alto-playing from Soweto is just one of many highlights on what is certainly a magnum opus.

Out today

MORE READING AND LISTENING:

A full playlist and links to the top UK jazz of the year including White Juju

Journey back to 2013's The Legend of Mike Smith