New Jazz Styles: Listen to the best new jazz music in one Spotify playlist
From Kamasi Washington and Thundercat to Ezra Collective and Nérija, there's a new generation of jazz musicians blending genres and pushing the form forwards.
Around a century on from its birth, jazz is undoubtedly having a moment. In the US, saxophonist Kamasi Washington is breathing new life into spiritual jazz, while the prodigious bassist Thundercat is bringing his jazz fusion-inherited style to artists as diverse as Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar. Meanwhile, in the UK, artists like Moses Boyd, Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia are forging a new jazz sound open to the influence of UK dance genres like grime, UK garage and broken beat.
Is this a new jazz golden age? It certainly sounds like it. Check our playlist above to hear some of the best new jazz songs of the moment, then scroll down to check out videos and performances from 10 of the contemporary jazz artists transforming the form.
A virtuoso keys player and a member of Ezra Collective, Joe Armon-Jones is one of the most far-sighted players in the London jazz scene. His second solo LP Turn To Clear View explores jazz through a prism of bass-heavy dub, contemporary club culture, R&B, hip-hop and p-funk. Watch him perform the first track from the record, Try Walk With Me featuring Asheber, in the player below.
Watch Joe Armon-Jones perform Try Walk With Me, featuring Asheber
While raised in Inglewood, California – best known as the home of gangsta rap – Kamasi Washington took a very different path. A wizard of the tenor saxophone, he's played with figures as diverse as Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Lauren Hill, while his solo work – heard best on 2018's double album Heaven & Earth – is the refinement of a new, modern style drawing on spiritual jazz and big band music.
Kamaal Williams is the pseudonym of South London's Henry Wu, a bandleader who rose to fame as one half of the mighty duo Yussef Kamaal. Standing a little apart from the London jazz scene, his distinct sound melds the vision and virtuosity of '70s jazz fusion with the influence of grime, broken beat and garage. Watch the stunning cinematic short for New Heights (Visions Of Aisha Malik) below.
The drummer to watch on the London jazz scene, Moses Boyd has scooped two MOBOs, collaborated with everyone from Four Tet to Little Simz to Lonnie Liston Smith, and is currently a resident on BBC 1XTRA, spreading good vibes across the UK. Check his album Displaced Diaspora, released on his own Exodus Records.
See. Hear. Now. with Moses Boyd
South Londoner Swindle cut his teeth as a grime producer, but his multifarious sound takes in soul, funk, jazz and reggae, played with a rare musicianship. His 2019 LP No More Normal featured guests including Kojey Radical, D Double E, Ghetts, P Money and Nubya Garcia.
Swindle's No More Normal
Stephen Lee Bruner first distinguished himself as a session musician, playing on Erykah Badu's 2008 LP New Amerykah, Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma and Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly. Increasingly, though, this LA-born bassist has become the main event, albums like Apocalypse and Drunk showing off his limber, cosmically-minded mastery of soul, funk and jazz fusion.
Another leading light of the London scene, saxophonist Nubya Garcia broke out in 2017 with the excellent Nubya's 5ive on Jazz:Refreshed. She's also a member of the London groups Nérija and Maisha. Watch her play Lost Kingdoms and Fly Free in session for Red Bull below.
See. Hear. Now. with Nubya Garcia
Son of the celebrated jazz drummer Stephen McCraven, Chicago-based Makaya McCraven has distinguished himself as a daring voice in jazz's renaissance. Avant-garde of temperament, influenced by the rhythms and approach of hip-hop and electronic music, his 2018 LP Universal Beings brought together players from distinct scenes – New York, Los Angeles, London and Chicago – in search of inspiration.
South London jazz vocalist Poppy Ajudha has a voice that teeters right on the balance behind classic and modern – rich and smoky enough that you might compare her to any number of vintage soul singers, but with sensibility that's thoroughly modern. Spilling Into You – a collaboration with Kojey Radical – scrutinises love from a feminist perspective, while Tepid Soul is an expression of mixed-race identity that asks difficult questions: "Am I the right shade for you?" she sings.
It can seem like Shabaka Hutchings is everywhere. Saxophonist, bandleader and one of the most prolific voices in the UK jazz firmament, he leads three stand-out bands: cosmic jazz troupe The Comet Is Coming, the globe-trotting Shabaka & the Ancestors, and Sons Of Kemet, a quartet featuring saxophone, tuba and two drummers whose fiery and politicised LP Your Queen Is A Reptile received a nomination for the 2018 Mercury Prize.
See. Hear. Now with The Comet Is Coming
Flautist and saxophonist Ed "Tenderlonious" Hawthorne crafted a modern classic in 2018 with The Shakedown, a slinky excursion in jazz, funk and African and Brazilian rhythms, backed by all-star players The 22archestra. Keep your eyes peeled as he's back with a new album from his quartet Ruby Rushton this April.
Tenderlonious and 22archestra perform Yussef's Groove live
Still want more jazz? Now watch Current State Of Jazz: London, a short documentary capturing the best in the UK capital's thriving scene.
The current state of jazz: London