Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Albums Of 2010: Soweto Kinch

Over the next two weeks JazzWrap revisits our favourite albums of 2010.

Soweto Kinch (sax, vocals; b.1978)
The New Emancipation (Soweto Kinch Recordings)

Resurfacing this year with an incredible document, The New Emancipation (SK Recordings), Soweto Kinch may have established himself as the premier storyteller of the new British jazz generation influenced by Hip Hop. This fertile underground mind delivers the trials and tribulations young London life trying to reach the better horizon.

That story is capsulized in perfectly on the opener, "Trying To Be A Star". Maybe in a similar fashion as some of Courtney Pine's earlier records but with a more updated and solid vision.

One of the brilliant things to come out The New Emancipation for me was the way Kinch has grown as a musician on sax. His playing especially on the hard bop of "A People With No Past" is very reminiscent of Branford Marsalis circa Crazy People Music. In the first two full tracks Kinch has made his case that Jazz and Hip Hop an coexist within the same sphere.

The influence of both someone like Branford, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McClean and Hip Hop artists Mos Def, KRS-One and Black Thought (of The Roots) can be felt throughout Soweto's discography but even more so on The New Emancipation.

And it's not just Soweto who stands out here either. He's band a superb. Guitarist, Femi Temowo and drummer Justin Brown act as wonderful counters to Kinch's fierce, rolling vision on the more traditional jazz pieces, including "The Never Ending" and "Suspended Adolescence."

The rhythm based pieces such "Raise Your Spirit," "Axis Of Evil" and the hilarious "Paris Heights" show the lighter yet bold side of Soweto's lyrical storytelling. But overall, The New Emancipation is sold jazz album. It balances Hip Hop and Jazz to perfection. This lyrical delivery of Soweto Kinch has never been more clear than now. Soweto has become a more mature and focused player and songwriter.

The New Emancipation is not only a statement of our culture. It is a blueprint of what Jazz and Hip Hop should sound like. It was one of my favourite albums during the second half of the year and I haven't stopped listening.

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