premiere: nubiyan twist & mulatu astatke, ‘addis to london’

February 7, 2019
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The flood of great horn-driven music from London does not stop at the moment, with the upcoming new album by old AFROPUNK friends, Nubiyan Twist, the latest laidback dance floor stormer. Formed at the Leeds College of Music in 2015, the 12-piece collective fronted by singer Nubiya Brandon now resides in the capital, where its mission — to interpret the music of the Black diaspora (jazz, soul, classic African rhythms, reggae and dub, etc.) through a big-band lens — is one of London’s current charters. The Twist’s work has won them a lot of acclaim and some famous fans. And one of them, Ethiopian jazz vibraphone legend, Mulatu Astatke, joins the group on “Addis to London,” a groove that connect these two points on the map.

The groundwork for the fun is laid at the top of the track when you can hear the 75 year-old master bantering about beats in the studio. “It’s not just jazz guys who use these rhythms, but singers, Mali and Senegalese, they use them for dancing — it’s gonna be crazy, I think they’re gonna love it,” he concludes as laughter breaks out, the shakers start shaking, while Astatke’s vibraphone and Oli Cadman’s keys get in tune. Soon enough, we are headlong in an Afrobeat groove, drums and percussion rolling, as the horn charts begin referencing both Nigerian highlife fanfares, and more North African tonalities. It is in between these spaces that Astatke pops up, at times joining the music’s slipstream, at others stepping out in front of the mix. It is a true collaboration between the young turks and the old master.

Nubyan Twist’s Jungle Run is out on Strut Records on February 15th