The Shape Of Jazz To Come: Who To Look Out For In 2019

It's time to divine the divine, as we ask our crack unit of writers and assorted taste-formers to gaze into their crystal balls and reveal the intel on those artists they think are set to sizzle in 2019... 

Rob Adams (Glasgow Herald, Jazzwise)

Two names, among many, stand out on the vibrant Scottish scene. Drummer Graham Costello’s STRATA combines drama, intelligent, incisive improvisation and Reichian minimalism, while saxophonist Matt Carmichael plays with imagination and great solo-building nous.

Jane Cornwell (Evening Standard, Jazzwise)

I’ve been following the wonderful UK instrumentalist and bandleader Bex Burch for a while, and am so impressed with her use of the gyil, the Ghanian xylophone, which she studied intensively at the source. The first album with her trio Vula Viel showcased the instrument’s sound, placing it in a jazzy context with Ruth Goller on bass and Jim Hart on drums, and the forthcoming Do not be afraid[sic] (Jus Like Music) goes even deeper into the fundamentals of Dagaare systems, exploring groove, space and chaos. Post-punk jazz from London via the West African heartlands. Even Iggy Pop is a fan.

John Cumming (Serious)

Ife Ogunjobi, Joe Bristow, Hanna Mubya, Mebrakh Johnson, Kaidi Akinnibi and Alam Nathoo made the jump from Tomorrow’s Warriors to become Harlem Hellfighters  – Jason Moran’s meditation on the legacy of James Reese Europe – and proved that there’s yet another generation of terrific British players on the way up.

Tony Dudley-Evans (Jazzlines, Cheltenham Jazz Festival)

I was immensely impressed by the four bands which toured as part of the JPN Emerging Talent package – Joshua Schofield Quartet, Morpher, Samantha Wright Quintet and the Bela Horvath Trio. We’ll be hearing a lot from them in the future.

Mike Flynn (Jazzwise)

The future of the rhythm section looks bright indeed with extrovert LA drummer/keyboardist Louis Cole dazzling audiences online and live with his musicianship, deadpan gags and showmanship, while phenomenal UK drummer Jamie Murray’s Beat Replacement (pictured) are putting the fun back into fusion. Fast rising electric/acoustic bassist Seth Tackaberry is an astonishing young player still studying at the Royal Academy and keyboardists Charlie Stacey and Tomasz Bura are combining chops and imagination beyond their years.

John Fordham (The Guardian, Jazzwise)

Pianist, composer and producer Joe Armon-Jones has certainly scattered clues to his promise in 2018, but his alchemies of jazz, and London’s multiple musical vocabularies – without betraying improv – can only deepen next year.

Brian Glasser (Jazzwise)

Trio HLK: Forceful and far-reaching bassless trio whose debut album Standard Time, pulls off the neat trick of combining jazz with modern classical. No harm done in getting Evelyn Glennie and Steve Lehman in to help.

Spencer Grady (Jazzwise)

Keep an eye on a cell of London-based itinerants mangling the old extemporising templates, among them Joe Wright with his abstract sax-electronics interplay, Luigi Marino and his mutant cymbal clarion, plus drummer Andrew Lisle, who throws stuttering blast beats and eternal snare rolls into his flexible free-music lexicon.

Jan Granlie (editor Salt Peanuts –

Danish, Norway-based saxophonist, Signe Emmeluth, is following what Mette Rasmussen did a few years back. Hers is always energetic playing, bolstering several projects such as Konge (with Mats Gustafsson, Ole Morten Vågan, Kresten Osgood) and her own quartet Emmeluth's Amoeba (see below).

Nick Hasted (The Independent, Jazzwise, Record Collector, Uncut)

Like Nubya Garcia, alto-saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi’s talent has been incubated in the band Nérija. Gorgeous gigs this year suggest her Seed Ensemble will mark out their own terrain with an album of commanding, dynamic jazz suites.

Mike Hobart (Jazzwise, Financial Times)

Pianist Sarah Tandy has a superb touch, voices beautifully and plays with a great sense of time. Her confidence has grown and she’s found her own voice. Watch out for her upcoming debut album on Jazz re:freshed.

Emily Jones (Cheltenham Jazz Festival)

London vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett played a brilliant gig with Kansas Smitty’s House Band in Cheltenham this year, and is also known as the vocalist for Trope. She’s currently developing her own material and plans to record her debut album in 2019, following the first headline show with her new band in the Elgar Room at London Jazz Festival 2018.

Kevin Le Gendre (Jazzwise, Echoes, BBC Radio 3)

I’ve been really impressed by young American pianist James Francies. His album Flight was an excellent debut in 2018. He’s had high profile gigs as a sideman (with Jeff Tain Watts, Pat Metheny, Chris Potter) and if he keeps developing could well prove a major new artist.

Eddie Meyer (The Verdict, Jazzwise)

Jonny Mansfield’s Elftet turned heads at this year’s Love Supreme with their set of intricate but groove-laden originals that appealed across the generations; tenor saxophonist Tom Barford is set to make waves with his debut album of virtuosic contemporary jazz, while Binker Golding’s new project teams him with the prodigious Sarah Tandy in a thrilling acoustic quartet. Jazz re:freshed and Jazz In The Round are moving out of the capital to spread the word across the nation. Watch out, too, for moves from musician’s favourite Riley Stone Lonergan, while on the trio front, Vels Trio and Zeñel go from strength to strength!

Jez Nelson (Jazz FM)

Young bass player as much in debt to Thundercat as he is Stanley Clarke, Arthur O’Hara’s funky power-trio is a modern fusion group with a punch. Great licks, catchy tunes and just enough retro edge to make the older crew happy!

Jon Newey (Jazzwise)

As the dust starts to settle after the initial blast of the UK’s New Generation of Jazz, whose message has spread well beyond these increasingly insular shores, saxophonist and flautist Nubya Garcia looks set to take her music to another level in the coming year, both with her solo projects and with Maisha, whose debut album, There Is A Place, is one of the stronger statements to come out of this still evolving scene.

Stuart Nicholson (Jazzwise)

In a year when women’s issues have been at the forefront of the headlines, it seems right that alto saxophonist Angelika Niescier’s time should come and that she becomes far better known beyond her native Germany. She’s the real deal, plays rings around her male counterparts, scaring many of them into a new line of work.

Paul Pace (The Spice of Life, Ronnie Scott’s)

Pianist David Swan has impressed with his buoyant touch at the keyboard, wealth of ideas and uplifting solos. I first noticed him as a side musician in various outfits, most memorably as part of the hard-driving quartet led by saxophonist Alex Western-King, another young musician well worth checking. With a poise beyond his 22 years, Swan’s trio played an exquisite set at the 2018 Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival.

Amy Pearce (Jazz Consultant)

I’m expecting to see the new wave of dynamic female instrumentalists having an even greater impact on shaping the scene. As well as international talent, such as saxophonists Melissa Aldana and Tia Fuller, I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of the next UK generation, with artists such as drummer Romarna Campbell.

Chris Philips (Jazz FM)

My look ahead is a nod to Polish keyboard player Tomasz Bura and his band The Scientists. This is hard hitting fusion á la Chick Corea or Ursula Dudziak, with vocal improv from the enchanting Rouhangeze Baichoo, reframed for today. These guys are going to be the revelation of 2019.

Peter Quinn (Jazzwise, The Arts Desk)

A modern-day freedom song project celebrating the resilience of African-American culture, Bay Area artist Tiffany Austin’s newly-released Unbroken is one of this year’s most compelling vocal albums. From civil rights anthems (‘Keep Your Eyes on the Prize’) and gospel (‘Ain’t No Grave’) to majestic standards (‘You Must Believe in Spring’) and blistering originals (‘Greenwood’), Austin’s singing is as emotionally engaging as it is timbrally beautiful.

Thomas Rees (Jazzwise, BBC Radio 3)

Pianist Sarah Tandy is one of London’s most exciting young talents. She has formidable chops and can shred with the best of them, but her playing has real poise too. She’s already been turning heads, playing with Camilla George and supporting Roy Hargrove (RIP), and she’s due to release her debut album this winter.

Andy Robson (Jazzwise)

Alex Munk. Most notably with Flying Machines. A sheer relish for all things guitar, but also a tight, tight band that’s fresh, but with plenty of bite

Steve Rubie (606 Club)

Saxophonist Alex Hitchcock is a strong favourite for me to make a lasting impression on the UK scene. Though only relatively recently graduated, he already has an impressive grasp of the instrument, a mature approach and wide reaching creativity. Well worth keeping an eye out for the various projects he has coming up in 2019. My other tip is Scottish singer Georgia Cecile. Despite working as a professional singer and teacher for a little while, most of her work has been focused north of the border. She’s only recently started venturing further south and I would expect the clarity of her tone, her creativity and ability to sing with genuine emotional depth to take her a long way.

Alyn Shipton (Jazzwise, BBC Radio 3)

My one to watch for 2019 is Rosie Frater-Taylor, who is a singer/songwriter of great originality (following on from the likes of Lauren Kinsella and Emilia Mårtensson). She plays ukulele, guitar and a sort of Hawaiian guitar-ukulele crossbreed, as well as various other instruments. Don’t judge what she can do from the rather old material currently on YouTube. She’s come through the NYJO Academy, and is now at the RAM, but her work in and around the current London scene is interesting and she has the right combination of ambition and ability to go far.

Robert Shore (Jazzwise)

Lorraine Baker’s debut album, Eden, has just laid down an inspiring challenge to fellow drum disciplines – how to get their work, usually delivered from the back of the stage, further forward in the mix. Great joyful, dancing rhythms too. Expect more of the same from her next year.

Daniel Spicer (Jazzwise, The Wire, The Mystery Lesson)

Irreversible Entanglements’ debut album last year was a blast of righteous fury, but their live shows are another order of energy entirely. Without doubt one of the best working bands in the world right now.

Oliver Weindling  (The Vortex, Babel Label)

Calum Gourlay is proving himself the consummate musician, way beyond just great bass-playing. His compositions, arranging and pizazz are clear in the monthly big-band gigs at the Vortex. The band itself has many exciting players, such as Helena Kay, who focuses her imagination through her tenor sax, especially in her KIM Trio.

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