Best British Jazz Acts | News | MN2S

These are the six best jazz artists from the UK.

Jazz may have been born in the USA, but there has been no shortage of jazz luminaries on this side of the pond. America may have spawned the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, but these six artists can stand shoulder to shoulder with many of the US greats.

1. Courtney Pine

Courtney Pine has helped shape the UK jazz scene for decades. A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, Pine plays tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and keyboards. He has sixteen albums as a bandleader to his name, and he’s worked with the likes of Mica Paris, Trevor Jones and the Jazz Warriors.

Pine’s 2017 album Black Notes from the Deep has garnered widespread critical acclaim, with The Observer hailing him as ‘Britain’s most celebrated jazzer’ and ‘still top dog’. The album features several funky collaborations with UK soul icon Omar, and cements Pine’s position as one of the UK’s greatest jazz exports.

2. YolanDa Brown

YolanDa Brown is one of the premiere jazz talents of her generation. The saxophonist’s debut studio album April Showers May Flowers topped the UK jazz charts upon release, as did her follow-up album Love Politics War, released in 2017.

Brown has won two MOBO Awards, an honorary doctorate, and an invitation to meet the Queen in her illustrious career so far, and she’s collaborated with Jools Holland, Julian Marley and Mica Paris. With a parallel career as a broadcaster and children’s author, it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more from YolanDa Brown in the future.

3. Mica Paris

Best known as one of the UK’s leading soul singers, Mica Paris is also an established jazz vocalist in her own right. She’s taken to the stage at various jazz festivals and venues, including Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the Jazz Cafe and Hideaway Jazz Club.

Her current project is Mica Sings Ella, an album, tour and musical featuring Paris’ interpretation of Ella Fitzgerald’s classic back catalogue. It goes without saying that it takes serious jazz chops to pull off Fitzgerald’s material, but Paris’ Mica Sings Ella performances have been universally acclaimed so far, and the album is shaping up to be a great success.

4. James Taylor Quartet

The music of James Taylor Quartet has epitomised British jazz for more than a quarter of a century. The four musicians are best-known for their acid jazz recordings, and their energetic live performances featuring the distinctive Hammond organ playing of the eponymous bandleader.

With dozens of studio albums in their back catalogue, the quartet has become a cornerstone of the British jazz scene. They’ve even dabbled in cross-genre experimentation, combining jazz with classical music for their album Closer to the Moon. And the group often enlists the talents of vocalist Yvonne Yanney to show off their soulful side.

5. Incognito

Key players in the acid jazz scene, Incognito bounded onto the scene in the early 80s with the album Jazz Funk and hit the ground running. Decades later the 16-piece band have released 17 studio albums and made a name for themselves for putting on some of the most raucous performances the jazz scene has ever seen.

Incognito’s expansive discography also features a slate of classic remixes by trend setting DJs like Masters At Work and David Morales, helping their music permeate jazz clubs and house dance floors alike.

6. Zara McFarlane

MOBO-Award winner Zara McFarlane has fast become a mainstay of the British jazz scene with her potent mix of old school jazz, Sun Ra-style avant garde, and contemporary influences.

Signed to Gilles Peterson’s influential record label Brownswood Recordings, McFarlane has released three highly acclaimed studio albums so far, including 2017’s Arise, which was ushered in with a phenomenal live session with Boiler Room, as seen above.

Main image by Jimmy Baikovicius from Montevideo, Uruguay – 19° International Jazz Festival of Punta del Este | 150111-2052-jikatu, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

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