Over the last five years, Nubya Garcia has become a central figure in London’s contemporary jazz community. The 28-year-old saxophonist has been integral to the development of its sound, and a crucial component and player on many of the great releases, including on 2018’s lauded ‘We Out Here’ compilation, alongside Mercury Prize-nominated drummer Moses Boyd and Ezra Collective. Its reputation as a global powerhouse is now undeniable.
Though Garcia’s peerless work as a bandleader has often been overshadowed, on her debut solo album, ‘Source’, the singular and uncompromising sound that Garcia has made her own finally comes to life. Her preceding EPs – ‘Nubya’s 5ive’ and ‘When We Are’ – were frantic and playful, but here she adopts a considered and soothing urgency, alongside co-production from the esteemed Kwes (Kano, Solange).
Dub overtones dominate the record, but Garcia leaves equal space for Calypso rhythms, floating two-step, bluesy hard bop, improvisatory jazz and splashes of electronica. Previously, Garcia’s playing could cling to the walls, only stepping into the spotlight with blistering sax when prompted. But on ‘Source’, she boldly uses her fiery use of her instrument underpins the entire album; a cohesive glue amongst the ceiling-threatening jazz. Members of her band – including Sam Jones, Daniel Casimir and Joe Armon-Jones – shine throughout the album, but it’s clear Garcia is shooting for something grander.
Take the title track, a sprawling 12-minute odyssey which veers from dub to R&B to Calypso back to free-form jazz, ambiguously showing off and representing Garcia’s thriving musical communities in all its guises. KOKOROKO’s Ms Maurice and Ezra Collective’s Richie Seivwright accompany on trumpet and trombone, respectively, while Garcia cedes space for additional sax support from Cassie Kinoshi, Garcia’s band-mate on all-female septet Nérija. The song, much like the album, is a reflection of Garcia wanting to bring together disparate parts of the world to create a jazz album which resonates across cultures, borders and countries.
‘Source’ is a reflection of Nubya Garcia’s hometown; a mirror spotlighting London’s skilled musicians and a reminder of how thrilling this scene can be. The project’s urgency is baked in calming undertones, forcing listeners to be meditative and to connect, and a sense of rejuvenation, providing a call towards a larger sense of community. While nodding to jazz greats of the past, Garcia has created a sound that, for many years to come, will reverberate as her own.
- Release date: August 21
- Record label: Concord Jazz