Song of the Day: SEED Ensemble – “Afronaut”

A standout on the U.K. jazz scene, saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi formed the 10-piece SEED Ensemble in 2016, recruiting some of London’s best young jazz players to realize her singular musical vision. That vision is fully formed on Driftglass (Jazz Re:freshed), the band’s 2019 debut release redefining the contemporary big band sound with a chill-out vibe, African and Caribbean grooves and the Afro-futurist sensibilities of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Drummer Patrick Boyle kicks off “Afronaut,” our selection, with a swift, skittering electronica-inspired beat, the hot brass of Miguel Gorodi’s and Sheila Maurice-Grey’s trumpets cooled somewhat by Sarah Tandy’s Fender Rhodes. Spoken-word artist XANA then enters the mix, her poetic flow picking up on Sun Ra’s cosmic aspirations for people of color and saluting the late Toni Morrison: “Meteors shining to reflect kinky hair filling my helmet/And yes, I entered space where there’s no air so I can breathe and not choke … And I can see without the bluest eye.” Altoist Kinoshi and tenor player Chelsea Carmichael intertwine in an ecstatic dialogue, and Tandy’s twinkling keys evoke a star-speckled cosmos.

SEED Ensemble is one of two groundbreaking British jazz acts taking part in The Master Sessions, an innovative collaboration between the premium audio brand Bluesound and the pioneering music technology company MQA. The Master Sessions is a series of live concerts, streamed in real-time using MQA sound, to over 100 audio retailers around the world through Bluesound’s premium hi-res audio players including the Node 2i and PowerNode 2i. On February 5, The Mercury Prize-nominated SEED Ensemble officially kicked off the initiative with a performance at London’s British Grove Studios. The event was streamed in real-time from the studio using the MQA Live encoder, where the performance will be captured at 24-bit/192kHz resolution and ‘folded’ using MQA’s “Music Origami” technique.

More Master Sessions events are being planned for later in the year. At more than 100 audio retailers around the world, music fans will be invited to share in a live audio experience like no other.

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