1 August 2018

Live Review: Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble at Jazz Re:Fest 2018

Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble

Jazz Re:Fest, Brighton Dome

Sunday 22nd July, 2018


    Amidst the searing heat of what has been called one of the hottest days of the year, Brighton Dome had the prestigious honour of hosting 2018’s Jazz Re:fest. The annual event is renowned for stellar line ups of the most talented pioneers of the modern UK jazz scene. This year saw familiar names such as drum prodigy Yussef Dayes, virtuoso double bassist and emerging composer Daniel Casimir and electro jazz pioneers Blue Lab Beats to name a few. Also appearing alongside the names of these modern jazz giants we find the emerging collective known as Seed Ensemble led by London’s own Cassie Kinoshi.

    Kinoshi is already a giant of the UK jazz scene herself, playing in multiple projects essential to the modern identity of British jazz. As well as being in all-female jazz collective Nerija and afrobeat jazz group Kokoroko, alto saxophonist Kinoshi brings together some of London’s finest musicians to create a new collective of her own. Incorporating mellow jazz harmony with infectious melodies executed to perfection by a specific and carefully hand picked horn section. The compositions vary from tune to tune, one can hear the the steady influence of afrobeat grooves and rhythms and then be suddenly transported to a sonic landscape reminiscent of the spiritual music of Alice Coltrane. This can especially be heard in the tune Wake with its slow ostinato driven bassline melded with an upbeat melodic line provided by the horns. Projecting this new musical vision are a nine-piece band built up of some of London’s most talented up and coming players, such as trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey (a frequent collaborator with Kinoshi), tenor saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael, and one of London’s leading guitarists, Shirley Tetteh.

    Also an eye-catcher and stand-out for the performance was the appearance of veteran tuba player Oren Marshall. His sub bass instrument can be heard gliding through the band’s lower register while tastefully sharing space with the lyrical grooves of double bassist, Rio Kai. As if this amazing collection of musicians and groundbreaking performance wasn’t enough, Kinoshi went even further into her experimentation by bringing spoken word poet Xana on to the stage. Xana conjures up words and imagery of the somewhat darker and less-addressed subjects occurring on the streets of London. This gives the music even more intensity. We are briefly taken away from reality and then quickly whisked back, reminded that it is indeed real. This is not the first time these experimentations with composition have been used but Cassie Kinoshi has interpreted them in her own way, embracing styles of both past and present to create something that we can call modern.     


George Richardson

(Photo of SEED Ensemble by Lisa Wormsley)

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