Born and raised in Camden Town, London, Nubya Garcia is a young tenor saxophonist, composer and bandleader who has quietly emerged from the thriving London jazz scene. Over the past five years, the musician has collaborated extensively with several London-based collectives such as Steam Down, Ezra Collective, Maisha or Nérija.
As well as that, several high-profile guest appearances have firmly cemented Nubya Garcia’s reputation on the contemporary jazz scene. The musician featured on five of the nine tracks of the hugely successful 2018 compilation We Out Here, she covered Joe Henderson’s “A Shade of Jade” for the 2020 Blue Note: Re-imagined project and shared the studio with Chicago-based drummer Makaya McCraven on the 2018 Where We Come From project and on the entire London side of the excellent 2018 Universal Beings.
Bursting with energy, most tracks extend over 7 minutes while the impressive title track, which is itself a dub rework of a piece originally released on the When We Are EP, develops over 12 minutes. As a result, Source is a compelling record whose polyrhythmic subtlety slowly reveals itself with every new listening. Such a complexity is enabled by an impeccable backing band – Joe Armon-Jones on keyboards, Daniel Casimir on bass and Sam Jones on drums – all bandleaders themselves as well.
The “Source” track as well as “Stand With Each Other” also features three members from another famed London-based collective Kokoroko, namely Sheila Maurice-Grey, Cassie Kinoshi and Richie Seivwright as a vocal section. Sheila Maurice-Grey – aka Ms Maurice – appears on trumpet on “Together is a Beautiful Place to be” and on flugelhorn on “Before Us: In Demerara & Caura”.
Recursion – where the input becomes the output – exists as much in music sampling as it does in hair braiding […] Examples as diverse as sampling, oriki and braised hairstyles can all be understood as “coming from the past” and bringing “with them something of [the past’s] accumulated capabilities, the attributes of earlier powers”, yet while they are of the “here and now” they bring with them “the then”. Strand by strand, the past is weaved skilfully together with the present. Emma Dabiri – Don’t Touch my Hair
The cover artwork for Nubya Garcia’s Source suggests an eloquent braiding analogy for the entire album – Nine new tracks as a suite of eclectic compositions reflecting on the breakneck “Pace” of the modern world, as a blend of influences and styles that all pay homage in some shape of form to “familial memories and personal histories” from her parents, grand-parents and extended community. Although grounded in northwest London, the musical ramifications on Source extend to the Caribbean islands and beyond. The calypso-flavoured track “Before Us: In Demerara & Caura” refers to her parents’ respective birthplaces – Demarera is on Guyana’s Atlantic coast while her father’s family come from Caura, a small village on Trinidad and Tobago. The title track has a clear connection with Jamaican reggae while “La Cumbia me Está Llamando” featuring members of La Perla nods to the popular Columbian folk style following a first-time visit to the South American country for a British Council funded project.
As a pianist and regular radio DJ herself, Garcia’s soundscape also assimilates a deep knowledge of the contemporary music scene, from soul to hip-hop and bass music, from Afro-Caribbean traditions to free jazz. All these influences coalesce in Source and now extend to two sister recordings. Released for record store day on 12 June 2021 last, SOURCE ≡ OUR DANCE is a four track remix EP while another 9 track remix album SOURCE ⧺ WE MOVE is announced for 22 October 2021 next. Timeless music and community-building from a “Boundless Being” and a free musician.