Nubya Garcia is a highly representative figurehead of today’s UK jazz movement.
The London-based saxophonist and composer is surely one of the driving forces behind the “regeneration” of jazz boomers in Great Britain. Next Tuesday, November the 19th, Nubya will be bringing her saxophone and more great stuff to Copenhagen, in order to perform on Vega’s stage.
Born in 1991 in northwest London, and raised in a creative environment by Caribbean parents, Garcia grew up in Camden where she was immersed in music from a young age. She attended piano classes, and was part of youth groups at the Roundhouse and Saturday groups at the Royal Academy of Music; she also completed the 5-week course at Berklee College of Music. Later, she graduates at Trinity College in London.
Nubya’s Afro-Jazz imprint has made her a key component in a string of new and established groups of musicians: what makes her sound so intriguing is how she is able to melt together all the musical influences of her youth into a bright new sound. Awarded as “Best Newcomer of the Year” in 2019 by Jazz FM, Garcia is a hectic force to behold and with so much going on in her music. Whether it’s Soul, Funk and Latin that she grew up with at home, or the Grime, Hip Hop and Dub she used to dance to at London clubs… it’s all there. In the recent “We Out Here” the movie, that accompanies the homonymous Brownswood Record’s compilation, released at the beginning of the year (celebrating the talents of the explosive London scene), many players talk about their music as a result of their African and Caribbean heritage and of the global sounds that both live and find new life in the british capital. Garcia features on five out of the nine tracks on that compilation.
Honestly, the expectations for her next Vega’s gig are high, and Garcia, like a true Nubian queen, will project a regal presence on the stage by painting a picture of her personal vision of jazz universe. Collaborations with the young talented drummer Moses Boyd, legendary Jungle producer and toaster Congo Natty and stimulating contributions to bands like the six-piece Maisha, and the Nérija Quartet have shown her musical range, but it is her solo material such as the 2017 debut EP “Nubya’s 5ive” and the single “When We Are” (2017) that you truly get a sense of the depth of her research and passion.
Her recordings have a compellingly spiritual sound and a cosmic quality, the same global all-embracing appeal which brands her notes. Her style is uncompromising and challenging but also original, fresh and wildly exciting. There’s a sparkling coolness to the record – the dynamism comes with the ‘tension and release’ the band craft conversations around.
Anyone in Copenhage into today’s British Jazz Wave is waiting for her core band as well.
Femi Koleoso on drums, Joe Armon-Jones on keys and Daniel Casimir on bass and I’m not sure I should add any other word. Last July Joe Armon-Jones hypnotized the Loppen’s audience during his concert for the CPH Jazz Festival; it was one of the most impressive live shows I’ve witnessed in the last years, going straight to my very personal “best live music” chart.
The band’s recorded music is never less than challenging, with fretless bass-like sighs from Casimir, who often creates his own sound worlds within that of the band. It’s also fun: switching tempo to upbeat, then deepening, opening out to a danceable, dub reggae groove then.
Nubya is in good company then. With her unique sound of simultaneous protest and nurturing, she’ll once again lead a cutting-edge but tremendously giving and generous collective. One of the things that brought this group together, and kept them coming back at weekends and whenever else they could rehearse (most notably at Tomorrow’s Warrior’s) was a love of bebop: “It taught us focus and discipline. You can’t be good without hours and hours of practice. You have to love it, in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty fucking abstract and virtuoso. That. Takes. Years. Bird and Coltrane were putting the hours in every day – but they also hung together and played together. That music – you can’t learn it by yourself, you need to team up with someone and share the pain. You can’t blag being good at bebop, so you best go practice!”, Nubya stated during a recent interview.
Vega will host a stunning night of jazz, bringing on stage one of the newest and brightest lights not just in British Jazz, but in British music overall. Hopefully the audience will truly enjoy this gig that will keep people talking for the weeks to come. See you at Vega!
Text: Nicola Semprini
Photo: Press photo