Album Review: Mark Kavuma – The Banger Factory

Mark Kavuma

The Banger Factory

(Ubuntu – UBU0028)

The advance in jazz education, the demise of the jazz club and the increase in public funding
has changed the shape of career progression for many contemporary UK jazz musicians; the days of learning from ones’ peers on the bandstand, through a series of club residencies, have been superseded by a more formalised approach. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but in the transition something of the original spirit of the golden age can be lost. Thanks to the resurgent London small gig scene Kavuma’s Banger Factory project harks back to that earlier era – the band has grown from a weekly residency in Brixton’s POW, attracting a cast of sympathetic players who have developed their band sound, just like in the old days. It’s no surprise, then, that the vibe of this album of eight original compositions harks back to the adventurous, hard blowing era of 1960s post bop. Kavuma’s opening statement on Dear KD channels the declamatory brassy assertiveness of Lee Morgan and the swing of Kenny Dorham; Deschanel Gordon drops in wry quotes á la Horace Silver and David Mrakpor’s vibes add a note of Hutcherson to the mix. There is no shortage of Blue Note tributes on the market but what sets this apart is the sheer zest and energy of the players and the richness of the musical palette; you can sense them egging each other on to ever greater heights, with drummer Will Cleasby dropping high-explosive bombs on The Banger Factory, while the presence of elder statesman Edwards underpins the atmosphere of respect for the tradition. Kavuma’s writing has developed rapidly since his debut and there’s a variety of vehicles for his young cohort to show off their skills; ballad Lullaby For A Fading Sky has Kavuma at his most Morganesque, matching Edward’s big tone; Zaitz offers a compendium of immaculately swinging blues-to-bop guitar on the rhythm section workout Big Willie; Akinnibi and James shine on the title track, Shrimpling keeps things moving forward throughout with his assertive playing and James’ hammond adds a broader texture to the ensembles that hints at a bigger band sound. There’s an infectious feeling of joy and mutual excitement in this recording – Ben Lamdin’s warm, clear Fish Market Studio recording captures the sound of a group of young players delighting in each other’s company, united by a real affection and understanding for the music. Recommended.

Eddie Myer