Review by Lily Carr-Gomm

Nubya Garcia (When We Are)

London-based saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia, is one of the leading forces behind the resurgence of jazz-influenced sounds in the UK. Her latest EP, ‘When We Are’ was released in March 2018 and consists of four tracks, with 2 of them being remixes of the prior 2. The first noticeable thing is the immediate sound of the soulful drums, coming across almost as a rock-jazz hybrid beat, the rhythm sets the tone for the rest of the tracks perfectly and builds momentum from the get-go.

The stand-out track, for me, is the Maxwell Owen remix of ‘Source’. The mixture of the extremely obvious talent shining through the track paired with the level of ambience and relaxation is magical. It is equally enjoyable digested as a magnificent portrayal of talent as it is simply a relaxing, soulful, easy-listening track. I love all four tracks, however personally I find the K15 remix of ‘When We Are’ to be a little too busy. I found myself getting slightly fiddly and agitated as it went on and wanting to skip to the next track. It is obvious that there is immense talent behind the track but the execution felt a little too sporadic for me, whilst the other three tracks were perfectly executed. Saying this, I have still added it to my playlist so perhaps I am just trying to find fault in it…!

Throughout all tracks, Garcia has a stunning level of control, even in the parts that sound similar to  tuneful freestyles. Whilst there is such evident passion and power coming through her music, it is still so beautifully timed and in control. She is definitely one to watch in the upcoming jazz scene.

Ezra Collective (Juan Pablo: The Philosopher)

Ezra Collective’s second album, ‘Juan Pablo: The Philosopher’ was highly anticipated from their growing fan-base and did not cease to disappoint. The seven tracks flow on beautifully from each other, starting off with a live introduction to each of the band members, by name and instrument. The title track comes straight after the introduction, setting the pace for the rest of the album, involving beautifully clean rhythmic drum beats with a sharp, tight finish, making it the perfect fit for a Wes Anderson film track. Track Four, ‘Dylan’s Dilemma’ acts as a refreshing break from the rhythmically intense prior tracks and this lilting trumpet interlude acts as a perfect ‘half-time’ track for the album.

The highlight of the album comes from track number 5, ‘People in Trouble’, which starts off with a strings ensemble in a much slower pace than the usual up-beat Ezra Collective sound, yet builds momentum as the rest of the band gradually enters, sounding as though they are reflecting the improvisational roots of jazz music and just soulfully jamming. Nearing the end of the song, the slow string start has evolved into a grooving, energetic symphonic piece, showing Ezra Collective in their absolute best light.