Three years ago we flooded your ears with the news of a London jazz revival. So much so that it became difficult to not repeat ourselves or lose some nuance. If you've ever been told that the best of jazz comes from London, change lanes, that's wrong. If you understand that the young actors in this revival are geniuses of composition, once again, you’re wrong. No, the message is as simple as a couple of dance steps: jazz lives on in London because an ever-growing audience of twenty-somethings have rediscovered it, and it is being upheld by the powerful grooves purveyed by the musicians on stage.
As always, London embodies dancefloor culture better than anywhere else. Freed from the fear of forgetting a little of the history of the sacrosanct religion of jazz, these young musicians create from that which feeds them: grime, sound system culture (from Jamaica) that’s very popular there, broken beats, afrobeats, music from the Caribbean, from whence some of them come, and obviously jazz...They have all succeeded in turning the small world of jazz on its feet, which has in turn revived their own listening public. And while these words are being written, while their increased presence in clubs and at festivals is up for debate, let us be clear that these musicians work with all the hard drive that motivates an artist to want to always be better than the day before.
Let's name one figure who (due to the deafness of some) is occasionally left out: the flutist and soprano saxophonist, Tenderlonious, who has remained one of the more traditional artists since his jazz records revived some of the idioms of hard bop and spiritual jazz. His contributions, as well as those of his relatives, are defended by his label, 22a. His background (he comes from electro) brings him closer to a certain keyboardist, Kamaal Williams, who acquired his first fame behind decks under the name Henry Wu. He then created the project Yussef Kamaal, tying him to drummer Yussef Dayes on behalf of the Brownswood label, which has since given rise to much copying, and has inspired jazz-loving broken beats, and long Fender Rhodes keyboard chords. Another iconic figure – age and experience having put him in the position of leader of the pack – Shabaka Hutchings, juggles between his groups The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet, while publishing other projects (Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors). Note that the saxophonist has signed a contract with the historic label Impulse! It is through this American label, today property of Universal Music, that John Coltrane had released his biggest records.
One of the epicentres remains, of course, the essential Gilles Peterson who, with Brownswood Recordings and his brand Worldwide (webradio, broadcast on the BBC, and a festival in Sète), shares many of his favourites: Zara McFarlane, Yussef Kamaal , Maisha, Joe Armon-Jones, Kokoroko, and those who appeared on the compilation song ‘We Out Here’, released in 2018. Among other representatives, note that the Gearbox label (Binker & Moses, Sarathy Korwar, Theon Cross) and Jazz Re:freshed are not to be overlooked!