The Shuffle - London's New Jazz


2018102320181027 (R4)

Writer Tej Adeleye meets London's new generation of jazz musicians.

The writer Tej Adeleye meets the new generation of British musicians shaking up the jazz establishment.

This community of musicians grew up in London. They practiced together and learned the blues. Now they’re collaborators, playing alongside each other in dozens of different bands. Their collective story takes us to venues across town, from the back of a Jamaican restaurant in Deptford to the Royal Albert Hall.

UK Jazz is having a moment. Spotify has reported a 108% growth in people under 30 listening to UK Jazz. Shabaka Hutchings, saxophonist and clarinettist, has recently signed to Impulse Records, the home of Coltrane. Global audiences are tuning into London’s jazz musicians.

Tej joins drummer and bandleader Moses Boyd in Peckham to retrace his pilgrimage that inspired breakthrough track Rye Lane Shuffle. He recalls sitting on the top deck of the 171 bus on Sunday mornings, watching crowds going to church and emerging from nightclubs. “That’s where it came from, the Rye Lane Shuffle,” he says. “Everybody on this strip has a purpose. There’s nowhere else that sums up London better to me than Rye Lane.”

Saxophonist Nubya Garcia and trumpeter Sheila Maurice Grey met at Tomorrow’s Warriors, a music charity at the Southbank Centre. Its founders, the bassist Gary Crosby and his partner Janine Irons, approach it as a jazz boot camp, giving free workshops and masterclasses to young people, with a particular emphasis on developing black and female talent.

This new jazz wave goes beyond music for dancing to. Composer and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi’s ten-piece Seed Ensemble explores a multitude of themes including afro-futurism and black history. And Shabaka Hutchings, leader of three bands including Mercury-nominated Sons of Kemet, offers a bold rallying cry for political change through his music.

Produced by Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4