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Sons of Kemet are in at no. 2 in UK specialist jazz chart also entering at no. 54 in the main chart

Black to the Future, the latest album from Sons of Kemet, reviewed here narrowly miss out on the no. 1 slot in this week's UK official jazz and blues chart. However, the London four-piece make it on to the general UK albums chart at no. 54 although …

Published: 22 May 2021. Updated: 33 days.

Black to the Future, the latest album from Sons of Kemet, reviewed here narrowly miss out on the no. 1 slot in this week's UK official jazz and blues chart. However, the London four-piece make it on to the general UK albums chart at no. 54 although not quite matching expectations earlier in the week because a press release circulating from the issuing label's publicist suggested that the album was looking like it was top 40 bound.

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The Kemets, reedist Shabaka Hutchings, Theon Cross on tuba, Eddie Hick and Tom Skinner on drums on the album are joined by guests who include saxist Steve Williamson, multi-instrumentalist Angel Bat Dawid, MC D Double E and poet Moor Mother with spoken word artist Kojey Radical featuring on 'Hustle', Black to the Future also including backing vocals from Lianne La Havas. Dates coming up for Sons of Kemet include Lafayette, London on 14 July, the We out Here festival in Abbot Ripton, Cambs on 19 August and All Points East, London, 27 August.

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James Francies, Purest Form ****

Released today Purest Form concentrates the mind and stimulates the senses. The pianist and keyboardist James Francies, influenced by James Poyser and certainly relatable too for Robert Glasper fans, presents the highly personal Purest Form given …

Published: 21 May 2021. Updated: 34 days.

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Released today Purest Form concentrates the mind and stimulates the senses. The pianist and keyboardist James Francies, influenced by James Poyser and certainly relatable too for Robert Glasper fans, presents the highly personal Purest Form given family loss and a close-knit coming together musically. Francies who is also excellent in Chris Potter's Circuits trio the Houston, nowadays New York, player melts vocals into the mix with Elliott Skinner on 'Rose Water' particularly striking. The album is dedicated to James' late mother Shawana who passed away in January and features poignantly her voice especially a factor on 'Transfiguration'. James' wife Brenda narrates 'Adoration' at the beginning and very evocatively James' father who is in his mid-seventies (and also called James) reminisces about the 4th Ward in Houston which used to be pre-gentrification Freedmen's Town, the name of the excellent 11th track, his warm voice heard over his son's rolling piano lines and on which James Sr discusses movingly his own parents and early life in a very different Houston. Purest Form also includes a homage to Houston called '713' which was the first track to stream.

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Producing this time after co-producing his excellent Blue Note debut Flight with Derrick Hodge this is a brave journey and one that is worth climbing on as a passenger right now. Is there one highlight? Yes. It's not necessarily the hip-hop vibe element with DJ Dahi, more the jaw dropping version of 'My Favorite Things' featuring labelmate alto saxophone star Immanuel Wilkins. Francies adds his own vocals judiciously on the album as well on Purest Form although it is his dazzling pianism that is striking first and foremost. SG

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