Miles Mosley live at Islington Academy

The air was tinged with anticipation at Islington Assembly Hall on Sunday the 19th of November. The venue had a vintage vibe about it, an immensely tall ceiling dangled a planet-sized disco ball and smoke machines left a dense fog upon the stage. A setting that left me imagining musicians performing there in the 20's, my daydream made even more realistic by the blatantly recognisable 'jazz-head's dotted about in the thick crowd, dressed in long black and white fur coats and trilby hats.

Miles Mosley fans whooped and squealed as the background music quietened to silence and Mosley entered the stage wearing the attire to match his celebrity status; a statement beret hat on his head and dark edgy sunglasses on his grinning face. He oozes energy and quickly starts the audience off chanting 'West Coast Get Down' repeatedly. The set kicks off with 'Reap A Soul'. Mosley's voice reminds me of James Brown's masculine tones as he injects an lively yet smooth and soulful melody over a texturally stripped back verse.

Accompanying himself on the double bass like many would a guitar, Mosley adds a whole other element to the track when he picks up the bow for his solo. Suddenly the tune takes on an almost prog-rock persona. Mosley dominates a sliding and whining eight bars on his delay-drenched bass, creating such a powerful sound I can feel it in my gut.

Two of Mosley's traits that make him so likeable are his relatability and legitimacy. He chats to the audience about his, in some cases, fifteen year long relationships with his band members. Then, on a different subject, states the true fact that 'being a human is tough, we're just trying to do something right'. The inclusive pronoun was a relief to hear as it shows that thankfully, despite being part of an acclaimed collective and collaborating with world-known artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Chaka Khan and Lauryn Hill, Mosley's success hasn't gone to his head.

There was a hugely positive atmosphere throughout the entirety of the night, on stage and off. Perhaps in part due to Mosley personifying his bass - referring to it as 'her' added an element of humour to his in-between-songs dialogue, not that he needed it. It also put the obvious love he has for his instrument and music into a visual scene when he spun the upright bass round like he would spin a dancing partner at the climax of a song. It's always beautiful to see someone getting a kick out of doing something they utterly adore.

The finest track for me was most people's favourite, the banger 'Abraham'. It was placed as the final song in the set (excluding the encore) and the audience went mad when pianist Cameron Graves began playing the familiar chord sequence intro. A combination of recognition of the track, mixed with a need to praise Mosley as much as possible to show their appreciation before he was gone. Joy and passion was plastered all over his face while he sung the (as he described to The Fader) 'coming-of-age sermon' to himself, and relief and satisfaction could be heard in his voice as he belted the lyrics that regarded pride and power of identity.

Mosley is a warm-hearted person with an appropriate title of 'The Jimi Hendrix of The Upright Bass'. The respect and appreciation between him and his band members is obvious and pleasing to witness, not to mention the exceptional virtuosity of their playing and the ingeniously engaging jazz/hip-hop/rock-fusion music they create. Miles Davis (whom Mosley was named after) once said; 'don't worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one good one.' This Miles manages to play lots of good ones.

Hannah Rodríguez

Vels Trio and Miles Mosley live at Islington Assembly Hall


With influences ranging from Miles Davis to Thundercat, Vels Trio combine a wide palette of musical influences into an effortless, cohesive sound. Experimental, ambient grooves were concocted, with Jack Stephenson-Oliver oscillating between driving synths and piano, Cameron Dawson providing chugging bass lines and drummer Dougal Taylor yielding cymbal patterings and hard grooves. Yellow Ochre (Part 1.) was a highlight of the performance, beginning with an extended drum solo. An electronic wave of cosmic leaning sound, permeated by pulsing swells and intricate riffs, was created.

'Are y'all ready to get down?' Next was singer and double bassist Miles Mosley, who transported the audience to L.A., and alongside musicians from the collective known as the West Coast Get Down played a whirlwind fusion of jazz, funk, soul and rock. There was a real sense of community throughout the gig, as the high-calibre musicians had played together since they were in their teens. Mosley told us that the collective recorded 170 songs in 30 days, which spawned esteemed material such as Kamasi Washington's The Epic, and his own album The Uprising.

Mosley explained his father's dissatisfaction concerning Mosley's lack of double bass solos despite the expensive lessons he had as a child. On cue, Mosley launched into double bass acrobatics, where he crafted an ingenious extended bass solo. With use of electronic pedals and distortion, Mosley interchanged between bowing and strumming the double bass like a guitar, and played gritty Hendrix-esque lines.

Mosley was quite the rock star throughout the gig - from wearing sunglasses which were at one point hurled onto the floor, to spinning his double bass in between wild wah-wah solos, he commanded the lively crowd and sang with authority.

– Harriet Davis

Marcus Miller live Royal Festival Hall

'Can I just ask how many bassists are in the audience?' was the opening statement of vibrant overseer Jumoké Fashola as she spoke excitedly of what the evening had in store... a third of the audience raised their hands. Tonight, Marcus Miller returns to London for the first time since his impressive Afrodeezia show in 2015 for another, equally storming set of music spanning an entire career and indeed beyond.

Ashley Henry and his trio commenced the evening's music. Ashley is one of a new generation of musicians working with the fresh and exciting label Jazzre:freshed. At only 24, Ashley plays the piano with a creativity and conviction usually achieved from a lifetime deeply involved in the art of jazz. Tonight, Henry, the mellow bass tones of Daniel Casimir and solid drumming of Eddie Hick dominates the stage. Though strikingly humble, Henry plays a strong set of hip, satisfying compositions firmly exceeding the expectations of Miller's fans.

This evening, Miller is joined by the rich comping of Pasquale Strizzi on keyboards, Marquis Hill's effortless trumpet playing, the intensely melodic soloing of Alex Han (above with Miller) on saxophone and Alex Bailey's fiery drumming – perhaps a little out of his depth on some tunes, still, mistakes were mostly compensated for by Miller's consistently driving groove.

Tonight's performance demonstrates Miller's musical versatility and simply demands praise. We hear punchy slap bass classics - 'Hylife' and alike - on Miller's four-string as well as lovely resonant phrases on the five-string fretless, often reminiscent of some of Jaco's lines. It is not easy to make the bass sing like Marcus and tonight's gorgeous arrangement of classic Gershwin standard 'I Loves You Porgy' reminds us of Miller's melodic ear. Similarly, Miller's nimble jazz lines on bass clarinet during 'Preacher's Kid, a song dedicated to his father, were impressive and unexpected – somewhat of a party-trick for those yet to see Marcus live!

There is brilliant interaction between Han, Hill and Miller with Han playing persistently exciting solos, holding notes when they sound great and letting loose when the moment calls for it. Hill upholds an impressive, pure tone which accompanies his classic bebop/hip-hop infused lines as heard on Miller's arrangement of 'Night In Tunisia'. The end of a deeply funky set called for an encore of epic proportions. Miller ended with 'Blast!', tuned his bass to a drop D pedal, and played a fascinating fusion of eastern harmony with a classic funky feel - indeed a brilliant way to end the show!

– Rosie Frater-Taylor

– Photo by Tim Dickeson

Butcher Brown – Live at Rich Mix, London

I walk into Rich Mix to meet a packed, smoke filled room of beer drinking, head-nodding twenty-somethings. The sickly scent of e-cigarettes lingers in the air. In the corner, is a lone woman sat cross-legged, her luxurious afro hair sweeping the floor as she stretches forwards gracefully, still bopping to the beat of the incomprehensible track playing in the background; it's uncanny.

Butcher Brown are in town 'for the first time!', Marcus Tenney gushes at his adoring crowd. 'What up London?' grins the multi-instrumentalist and frontman of the popular Virginian jazz quintet. In the moments after greeting the crowd, it seems a perfectly timed subliminal exchange plunges the boys into 'James River Tunnel Vision' – a track thickly-layered with abrupt imbalance in tempo, intriguing harmonic dissonance and beautifully clashing melodies.

Seemingly effortlessly, Butcher Brown call on their eloquent understanding of musical genres from Jazz and Funk to Hip Hop; intelligently informing their pioneering sound. Yet, there's something so inherently youthful, and modern about the product of their collaboration. Their use of nostalgia inducing 90's hip-hop melodies, is exciting and fresh. Their jazz is clearly inspired by the free jazz movement of the 50's and 60's – as the boys are articulate in the art of altering, extending and breaking down customary jazz convention; adding a funky, youthful flair.

Often, the soothing influence of reggae can be heard cutting through the dense instrumentation. This is due to each member of the crew having their own personal improvisation style. DJ Harrison commands the keys, charmingly jumping between melodies inspired by: reggae, jazz, hip-hop and R'n'B. Corey Fonville is magic on the drum kit, playing at light-speed, altering the syncopation of his drum-fills scattered all over tracks such as 'Fiat' and 'AfroKuti #3'. Andrew Randazzo's bass creates harmony in contrast with Morgan Burrs' electrifying guitar solo's, which showcase a profound knowledge of rock intonation and melody.

Marcus Tenney, when not providing us with oozing, funkadelic jazz melodies on either the saxophone or trumpet, stands at the back of the stage – carefully analysing every move his band members make; albeit, not in any way being patronising as opposed to carefully concentrating. Tenney, persistently engages the audience, whilst his contemporaries jam-out their improvisations in jubilant glee; grinning from ear to ear, and occasionally mouthing unintelligible jokes to one another, then bursting into laugher as they hit the climax of the next glorious crescendo.

The talented quintet will refrain from introducing any of their records. It's clear, their music doesn't remotely represent braggadocio, but simply a friendly environment in which you can get lost in music from all era's, cultures and influences. Butcher Brown's live show is full of free-flowing, groovy vibes that will assuredly get your head-bopping and your heart racing. As I leave Rich Mix, the sickly e-cigarette smoke has morphed into clouds of potent-smelling marijuana as our twenty-somethings gather outside the building. 'That was sick!' exclaims a gangly lad as he puffs away. I agree.

Tahirah Thomas

Ezra Collective – Live at Islington Assembly Hall

Drummer Femi Koleoso lays down an infectious backbeat as he is soon joined on-stage by TJ Koleoso on bass, Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Dylan Jones on trumpet, and James Mollison on tenor saxophone. The crescendo of screams from the audience reaches its peak when the band become one. Together they are Ezra Collective, currently one of the UK's hippest ensembles right on the cutting edge of jazz.

Having emerged from Gary Crosby's Tomorrow's Warriors programme, Ezra Collective brought their fresh brand of Afrobeat jazz to Islington Assembly Hall on Sunday night, as the EFG London Jazz Festival came to a close. But rather than let it simply fizzle out, Ezra Collective ensured that it ended with a bang, delivering a brilliant and engaging set showcasing material from their new EP Juan Pablo The Philosopher, released last month. Each musician brings their own style to the table with immense talent; Dylan's bright and virtuosic solo in Enter The Jungle is contrasted with his unaccompanied introduction to People in Trouble, a melancholic and sorrowful whisper in comparison. This pairs with James' haunting tenor sax rendition of James Speaks to the Universe, right before the band lift the mood once again with their cover of Sun Ra's Space is the Place. And when he isn't driving the band, Femi draws in everyone's attention with his thunderous drum solos.

Supporting were Kokoroko, an Afrobeat ensemble from London, bringing rich harmonic tone with an all-female saxophone-trumpet-trombone front line, as well as vocals and a striking rhythm section. Ezra Collective were also joined by a couple of guest musicians throughout the night: nu-soul and R&B singer Jorja Smith, and later Nubya Garcia on baritone saxophone. Garcia is another emerging talent on the scene, with a comprehensive skill on her instrument. Though perhaps it is more apt to say instruments, having demonstrated her skill on alto saxophone and even flute at Electric Ballroom supporting Christian Scott on Wednesday.

"Do you like to party?" Femi asks the audience encouragingly, and he is met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Ezra Collective have proved their popularity with today's younger generation. This group of truly great musicians are a fine example of where the future of jazz is headed, and it's headed in the right direction.

– Gareth Thomas

The Write Stuff

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