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One of the best guys on the «new» British jazz scene

VINTERJAZZ, HOTEL CECIL, KØBENHAVN, 24. FEBRUAR 2020: Arranging layers: Bring drums to the front. More drumming, and it’s set. Done, a live performance of 4 musicians where the headliner is a drummer, and therefore the drums keep on tracing the pace. Impressively subtle accents especially cymbals technique, jazz-funk and grime-tinged jazz-fusion flashes (from the whole quartet actually), made by the most «fusion-ish» of the Tomorrow’s Warriors fellas I personally witnessed.

Hyperkinetic drummer, composer and producer, Moses Boyd is the South London born winner of a double «MOBO» and «Jazz FM Award» in 2015, and winner of the 2016 «Play more Jazz Award» at Gilles Peterson’s «Worldwide Awards».

Moses’ collaborations have been as varied as they have been prolific, with the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith, Ed Motta, Little Simz, Four Tet, Floating Points, Zara McFarlane and many more.

In the last 4 years we saw him pretty around: from touring with Sampha & Kelsey Lu, to drumming on Sons of Kemet’s Mercury-nominated album, to collaborations with Mura Masa and with South African Gqom king DJ Lag. He also produced Zara McFarlane’s 2017 full-length, «Arise», in its entirety, for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label.

Moses Boyd is 28 years old, and he began playing drums at the age of 13, taking as much inspiration from jazz greats like Max Roach or Tony Williams, as from Wiley’s grime albums.  The raw energy of urban music and afrobeats plus the multiple rhythms of the London underground, are fully combined with the freewheeling creativity and spirit of his jazz foundations. Björk, Debussy, N.E.R.D., Tupac, Nas and Youssou N’Dour built up his childhood at home. Meanwhile, Boyd was already swapping beats with his grime-loving classmates in his first year and later, after initial instruction from jazz drummer Bobby Dodsworth, Boyd became a part of the jazz education program Tomorrow’s Warriors – as many other heros into this unstoppable UK jazz wave – while studying at Trinity Laban College.

After meeting and feeling the sound of tenor saxophonist Binker Golding, they formed the duo Binker & Moses. Their debut album «Dem Ones» has been released in 2015, and was recorded direct to a vintage Studer 1/4″ tape machine, so no computer processors around.

Following the very recent release of his brooding, groove-driven album «Dark Matter» (The album released on Feb. the 14th on his own label Exodus, made it to the UK charts independently), Moses has announced a 13 date UK and European tour for February/March 2020.

February the 24th was the very first 2020’s «Dark Matter Tour» date, in Copenhagen, on the racy and welcoming Hotel Cecil (former Jazzhouse) stage.

The event belongs to the first of the «Audio/Visual» concerts, brought by the 2020 edition of the CPH DOX festival. People surely replied loud to be a Monday evening, most likely 200 heads were there and kept on bouncing their heads until the last beer.

Moses entered the stage wearing a fluo vest and a forehead light fastened to his head, as to state «I’m from the Underground», while the band was already hinting the first notes of the opening track «Stranger Than Fiction». Nice and smooth, the set goes on flowless, the drums were standing tall on top of the nice vibes by Mike Underwood and his tenor sax.

At its darkest, Dark Matter descends into brooding electro more akin to tech house than hard bop. On the record, Boyd crafts grooves ranging from afro-beat to house to trap to grime, weaving jazz virtuosity and fluidity in around a spacious electric backdrop. Obviously, less electronic compared to the recordings, but more electrifying, the live executions of Dark Matter’s tracks conquers the audience in few minutes.

Boyd’s drumming technique and improvisation belong to top range level, and it’s possible to admire

his mastery of drumming when he is behind his tools (more than an instrument). Cause once again (and again), the buzz of the last years around Boyd and all the British young musicians indefatigably championed by Gilles Peterson, reflects the eagerness in artists finding ways to blend (in an ultra-natural way) their own personal taste and musical influences with the richness of jazz. This bunch of young guys and girls have roots, deep and strong roots then. Those musicians’ trunks and branches are long and sturdy because of their nourishing roots. They fed those roots since they were kids, with contemporary and classical sounds, their own sounds. Today we are capable to admire the beauty of the crowns of those «trees», and our feelings of gratitude are fulfilled.

Nice one and tusind tak Moses … we already know you will be back in Denmark soon.

Text: Nicola Semprini


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