One of the most exciting aspects of the UK’s music scene is that its artists refuse to be constrained by the expectations of any one particular genre.
In 2017, there was palpable excitment over the UK’s young jazz talent. Suddenly, the mainstream media started to take notice of a generation of artists who had been quietly honing their craft for years. The likes of Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd, Shabaka Hutchings and Ezra Collective were suddenly catapulted from Jazz FM to BBC Radio 1xtra, from an event listing in Time Out to a two-page spread in The Times.
And why shouldn’t they get this kind of attention?
Today’s young musicians have grown up with quite literally unlimited access to music from all eras and of all genres. They display a dazzling array of influences – from afrobeat, funk and soul to hip-hop, grime and dubstep – and the creativity that they show in blending these sounds is the reason that the UK jazz movement has captured the attention of onlookers worldwide.
So, who should you be excited about listening to in 2018?
Blue Lab Beats (NK-OK and Mr. DM) followed up the release of their ‘Freedom’ EP by performing alongside Kojey Radical at Womad Festival in 2017. They’ve already worked with the likes of Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia and Nérija, and their jazz-inspired hip-hop looks set to earn itself some serious recognition this year.
Leicester’s Scott Xylo may not be a jazz musician in the typical sense, but in listening to his productions the influences are evident. Boasting the support of BBC Radio 6 and Gilles Peterson, he’ll be releasing more of his unique brand of glitchy, psychadelic hip-hop on Black Acre in 2018. (Read our interview with Scott Xylo).
A group of young, talented musicians who came together in Bristol but hail from all corners of England, Feelgood Experiment offer their own distinct twist on modern jazz, soul and hip-hop. The band will be following up 2017’s eponymous EP with a series of live dates in Europe in 2018.
London’s Poppy Ajudha has the kind of voice that floats effortlessly over soulful R&B instrumentals. A string of well-received releases in 2017 culminated in November’s ‘Spilling Into You’ – a powerful Kojey Radical collaboration – and in 2018 she looks set to build on a steadily growing profile.
Combining jazz, soul, hip-hop and spoken word influences with the pulsating rhythms of his native Nigeria, London-based Obongjayar caught the country’s attention with his thought-provoking lyricism on 2017’s ‘Bassey’ EP. A truly exciting prospect for the year ahead.
In September 2017, Jazz Plus Productions released ‘Glowrogues – Live at Jazz Plus Presents’. The Manchester collective’s live album brings hip-hop, funk and jazz together with an infectious energy. Praise from BBC Radio 3, and Somewhere Soul is an indication that Glowrogues are a name to look out for in 2018.
Leeds’ electronic-soul quartet Noya Roa released the impressive album ‘Icaros’ in November 2017. Drawing on the influences of Gondwana Records labelmates Portico Quartet and Mammal Hands, theirs is an ambient, electronic sound which boasts catchy vocals courtesy of the immensely talented Olivia Bhattacharjee.
Like what you hear? Follow the EL SONIDO: Spotify playlist to stay up to date with the music that keep us ticking over.
Cover image source: Facebook