An explosive blend of cultural differences and styles
Lucy Tessier
17:20 11th March 2021

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Nothing says musical power more than a ten-piece strong jazz group, and of course we are talking about Nubiyan Twist. Hailing from Leeds, the musical collective has blessed us with another eclectic mix of flamboyant and beautifully chaotic tracks as they release their third album Freedom Fables. 

Dominating the UK jazz scene, the Afro-Jazz musical mavericks have recruited a glorious array of talent to produce their latest record, such as the likes of the world-renowned saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch, the velvety vocal lines of Ria Moran and the percussive and vocal mastery of Pat Thomas. Known for their exploration of various genres such as RnB, Latin, Jazz, African styles and reggae, the creative expertise of Nubiyan Twist is limitless when it comes to crafting colourful and explosive musical creations that celebrate these styles. Having previously worked with Afro-Jazz legends such as Tony Allen and Mulatu Astatke, the ten-piece are certainly making a name for themselves throughout the industry and Freedom Fables continues that name-making trend. 

It seems that for this record Nubiyan Twist have taken a subtle backseat on each of the tracks to let every featuring artist have their moment in the spotlight. ‘Morning Light’ featuring Ria Moran opens the album with a nonchalant and lazy RnB style beat with Moran’s silky vocals carrying the track. It is a personal favourite on the album which gradually introduces the different possible musical journeys that the band could take their listeners on throughout this record. With glittery guitar flourishes dotted between the different lines of the song as well as a prevailing saxophone line throughout, the record bursts with an array of various musical flavours from the get-go. ‘Ma Wonka’ celebrates the talent of the featuring artist Pat Thomas in a similar vein as it incorporates percussive elements that make use of iconic Latin rhythms – it is almost as if the listener has been transported to another country, something we could all do with right now! With catchy brass motifs and a name like ‘Ma Wonka’, there is no denying that this track will be a favourite among listeners since it feels exactly like a party in a song. 

Perhaps what makes Nubiyan Twist such an incredible group of musicians is that they are advocates of musical diversity and culture, and this is extremely prevalent in tracks such as ‘Tittle Tattle’ featuring CHERISE and ‘If I Know’ featuring K.O.G. A combination of guitarist Tom Excell’s high register strumming to create a funky twang and the witty vocal lines of CHERISE, ‘Tittle Tattle’ takes on the influence of similar artists such as Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia and 30/70. Though the ending of the song feels slightly tumultuous as each instrumental line snowballs into each other, this track does boast of the musical talent within the group despite its sometimes-perplexing nature. It goes without saying that ‘If I Know’ must have been impeccably fun to record thanks to its usage of conga rhythms and the combination of African, Latin and reggae styles that fall into place perfectly. The Ghana-born and now Yorkshire-based rapper, singer, and multi-instrumentalist K.O.G is a flawless feature to the track against a prominent brass section – how one envies the production team behind the track! 

It is impossible to deny that the jazz scene is often deemed too extravagant and inaccessible for those who wander outside its style, however Nubiyan Twist rewrite this expectation as they introduce contemporary creations such as ‘Flow’ featuring Cherise, ‘Buckle Up’ featuring Soweto Kinch and ’24-7’ which features Ego Ella May. Whilst ‘Flow’ makes use of elements of neo-soul and transient synth lines as the chorus is punctuated with accented brass stabs, ‘Buckle Up’ is a cool and collected number that draws attention to the stunning buttery vocal line of Nick Richard and produces a similar effect to that of Jordan Rakei’s music – however, the star of the show is Soweto Kinch as he produces a biting rap line over the lazy beats created in the bass. The South London jazz songwriter and vocalist Ego Ella May takes on the wavey wonders of the synth lead track ’24-7’, with her celestial vocals that are reminiscent of Hiatus Kaiyote and Joomanj. May’s voice is complemented exquisitely by a virtuosic saxophone solo that improvises around her voice and the ethereal vocal harmonies she delivers effortlessly. 

A record that would be an unforgettable experience live, it is incredibly devastating that the band will not be able to grace the stage with their album yet, but when it does happen it will certainly have been worth the wait! There has clearly been something of a wonderful chemistry between each featuring artist and Nubiyan Twist during the writing process of the album, as each collaborator tells their own story lyrically or stylistically. That is the force of music and Freedom Fables, with its explosive blend of cultural differences and styles, embodies the fantastic power of unity. 

Freedom Fables arrives 12 March via Strut Records.

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Photo: Press