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CD: Nérija - Blume | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Nérija - Blume

CD: Nérija - Blume

Living, vivid jazz from a septet that represents the cream of young London talent

You can see why of all jazz acts, the indie-centric Domino label went for this one. In particular if you took the drums and guitar of Lizy Exell and Shirley Tetteh alone, at various points here you could be listening to post-rock, with hints of Sigur Rós or God Speed You! Black Emperor especially on the album's epic centrepiece “EU (Emotionally Unavailable)”.

The production, too – from Kwes (Solange, Damon Albarn, Micachu) – is as hefty and sometimes experimental as you'd expect from a left of centre rock or electronica act. But crucially, these parts are just aspects of a larger whole. Once the saxophones of Nubya Garcia and Cassie Kinoshi, Rio Kai's bass, Rosie Turton's trombone, and Shiela Maurice-Grey's high drama trumpet parts are in the mix, there's no mistaking it: this is a jazz album through and through.

And it's a jazz album that reflects London's living scene, too. These are musicians schooled playing to dancefloors – in a city where dancing to jazz has been a continuous part of nightlife going back through Plastic People to Dingwalls and The Wag and before. This is music that comes out of a living tradition and culture of moving bodies. Therefore despite the widescreen intensity of those drums, guitars and production, the groove is paramount.

The single “Riverfest” in particular, which recalls Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin's brilliant work with West African musicians, is wildly infectious and light of touch. Elsewhere you'll hear bits of Donald Byrd, of electric Miles, of New Orleans marching bands, of Blaxploitation soundtracks and TV themes, but also of Rip, Rig & Panic, and of London's broken beat and garage. But none of this is done as conscious “referencing”, rather these are all just part of the musical language the seven players speak fluently. And even when the instrumentation and emotional complexity are at their densest, there's an immediacy to everything here that makes it a perfect document of how exciting UK jazz is right now. The confidence of its sound, but also the mere fact of its presence on Domino, are real signs of the times.


Listen to "Riverfest":


These are musicians schooled playing to dancefloors – in a city where dancing to jazz has been a continuous part of nightlife going back decades


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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