A Great Day in London, review: a dizzying array of talent proves the UK jazz scene is alive and well
Jazz development organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors have a leading role in the story of the UK’s Jazz renaissance, having mentored some of today’s young global jazz stars. Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia and Zara Mcfarlane were amongst more than 50 of the alumni and current members performing last night’s historic show, A Great Day In London.
With Tomorrow’s Warriors taking place every weekend in London’s Southbank Centre, this was a homecoming for many - and an opportunity for rising talents to share the stage with some of their idols. Half of Sons Of Kemet - Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and tuba player Theon Cross - joined the Tomorrow’s Warriors Junior Band to perform their track Inner Babylon. Hutchings spit fire with razor-sharp finesse but it was a young teenager who grabbed the moment; pint sized bassoonist Nahuel Angius-Thomas impressed with a solo usually saved for Hutchings - garnering some of the loudest whoops and whistles of the night.
Duo Binker and Moses performed a rapturous improvised conversation between saxophone and drums, with undertones of free jazz and UK garage. It was Golding who surprised at the end of the night as conductor for the track Warriors Rise. Leading a constantly moving line-up of more than 20 musicians, he led with groove, unpredictability and contemporary flair, pushed along by MOBO Award winning vocalist Zara McFarlane who brought the crowd to their feet with a cannon of call and response.
Temporary ensemble Violet Room All Stars featured a who’s who of London’s progressive Jazz scene with effervescent stage presence; Nubya Garcia, Ruben Fox, Mark Kavuma and a returning Shabaka Hutchings were among those performing on the front line with a daring version of Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness. Joyful interplay - particularly between Kavuma and Garcia - kept unwelcome formality at bay.
Vocalist and MC for the 180 minute show, CHERISE (Cherise Adams Burnett) was the rising star in motion last night with equal parts grace and quirk. The 26-year-old performed a rousing take of Ella Fitzgerald’s Round Midnight with dramatic severity, running ambitious trills, slides and gut-punching pitch-drops around double bassist Hamish Nockles-Moore.
Those who saw Nu-Troop perform for the first time in the early 1990s will have witnessed a rare regathering, as double bassist and Tomorrow’s Warriors Artistic Director, Gary Crosby OBE, brought his band back to the stage. A trio of saxophonist’s - Jason Yarde, Denys Baptiste and Nathaniel Facey demonstrated their chops with the opening of Wee; splicing and chopping a melody into three parts, dicing and taking turns on a single fast moving line.
While the music was superb - you couldn’t have guessed that plans for the show had begun less than six weeks ago - it was a moving speech from Tomorrow’s Warriors charismatic Chief Executive, Janine Irons MBE, that set the tone for this moment in history. She premiered a photograph taken that morning of Tomorrow’s Warriors' multi-ethnic and multi-gendered alumni, detailing a similar image that had been taken of London’s Jazz musicians 60 years previously; “They were all male, and only one black person”.
Tomorrow’s Warriors’ contribution to Jazz - not just British Jazz - has been nothing short of monumental. Their youth ensembles, Junior Band and Female Frontline, demonstrated the dizzy levels of talent rising from the next generation of young players. There’s no doubt that it was indeed a Great Day In London.
To find out ways you can support Tomorrow’s Warriors visit www.tomorrowswarriors.org/support