Nubya Garcia, When We Are

by Sylvannia Garutch

Nubya Garcia is a saxophonist, composer and bandleader based in London that is back with her next chapter in her musical unfolding, When We Are. Enabled with the support of the prestigious Steve Reid Foundation’s InNOVAtion award, and with Eglo records co-founder Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) as her mentor, this self-released EP features two newly recorded compositions from the much-lauded artist. The record also comes with B-side remixes from two generations of London’s finest producers, K-15 and Maxwell Owin. When We Are finds Garcia trailblazing new ideas and new territories with electronic experimentation. Garcia keeps her line-up consistent with her long-term collaborators Femi Koleoso on drums, Joe Armon-Jones on piano and Wurlitzer and Daniel Casimir on double bass. The remixes on the EP offer a different side of the coin, continuing the trajectory of genre blending that has been championed by a resurgent generation of players.

“When We Are” is a sixteenth note-based feel that melds the sounds of hip hop, African beats and jazz, into a groove that is instantly endearing. Garcia’s tone is present and sinuous. The composition has many sections that comprise the form, with nice use of tension and release. Garcia’s solo is energetic and dances against Koleoso’s kit work. Her lines are melodic and build overtime to give a evocative solo statement that leaves the listener satisfied. Armon-Jones keeps the energy moving forward and also reacts with Koleoso’s creative rhythms to form an expressive musical statement. This band has mastered the fusion of gospel, soul, broken beat, Afro-Caribbean and Latin styles and crafted into their own unique brand.

“Source” is an excellent example of the genre blending of this generations players, continuing elements of hip hop, pop, broken beat, Afro-Caribbean and Latin styles brought into focus with a jazz lens. The groove is full of rhythmic action and cross-rhythms. The melody is flowing and easy to hold on to. The solos are fun and interactive, and the quartet builds the music jointly to form impressive arches for each soloist that is a powerful musical statement.

The latest endeavor by Garcia keeps you riveted with 4 songs and 26 minutes of non-stop exploration of grooves and virtuosic intensity. Her sound is uniquely her own and she delivers each note with impassioned fierceness.

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