You’ve reached a Premium article. To continue reading, please login or start a 3-MONTH TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION for just 99 cents/month. You’ll receive unlimited digital access plus a complimentary issue of our award-winning print magazine.
Join Our Newsletter
Join thousands of other jazz enthusiasts and get new music, artists, album, events and more delivered to your inbox.
By John Frederick Moore
No surprise that a gathering of several leading lights of the contemporary British jazz scene would result in something so enthralling. That they would do so under the inspiration of Miles Davis’ foundational 1970 London Brew only makes it that much more inviting. The higher-profile names of this gathering — Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings and Theon Cross — have established themselves as the new vanguard of a groove-centric, multicultural jazz fusion. Along with nine others from across the U.K. music landscape, they expand the palette even further here.
They didn’t set out to cover Davis’ classic album; it’s more about capturing and building upon its essence. That much is clear from the title track, which kicks off the album. There’s the frenetic drumming of Tom Skinner, electronically manipulated violin lines from Raven Bush, guitar shards from Dave Okumu and Martin Terefe that could cut glass, and a swirl of synthesizers. Yet Garcia’s plaintive tenor saxophone lines and Hutchings’ melodious bass clarinet remind you that there’s a center of gravity involved. It’s a 23-minute journey through multiple dimensions.
Most of the other seven tracks work a similar mix of ecstasy and melancholy. The rumbling rhythmic intensity of “London Brew Pt. 2 — Trainlines” gives way to Garcia and Hutchings’ Steve Reich-inspired phrases, bathed in electronic effects courtesy of Bush and turntablist Benji B. “Raven Flies Low,” with its heavy reverb, Bush’s lush melodies, Tom Herbert’s insistent bass line and an elegiac closing section, unfolds like an episodic psychedelic dream. On the other hand, “Nu Sha Ni Sha Nu Oss Ra” maintains its low-key vibe of dreamy mysticism through it’s nearly nine-minute run time.
At nearly 90 minutes, there are inevitably some stretches that will test listeners’ patience. But overall, the musicians succeed in their mission of capturing the spirit of a treasure from the past and transforming it into something uniquely their own and of our time.